“The Pianist” is on television, and although I’ve seen it before and I own a copy of it on DVD, I cannot catch my breath. I am watching the true story of this sensitive, introverted, kind young man who despite his incredible musical talent, lived in Nazi-Occupied Europe during WWII. He was constantly on the run, in hiding, pretending to be someone he was not…. Anything that would save him from the Nazis and certain death. In one of his hiding places, he finds a piano and is able to express his feelings via his musical talent.
So why am I having trouble catching my breath at this Oscar-winning performance? Because two days ago, a racist, one-time member of the KKK, shouting, “Heil Hitler” during his arrest shot and killed three people in the Kansas City area. Two were a grandfather and grandson at a Jewish Community Center, and the third was a woman who resided at a skilled-nursing care facility that is supported through the Jewish community. TWO DAYS AGO! In Overland Park, Kansas! Not in Nazi occupied Europe during WWII. NOW! HERE!
If anyone wants to convince you that anti-Semitism does not exist in 2014 in the United States of America, you only have to look at your proverbial “backyard” to see that illusion vanish. Log into ANY station in the Kansas City area, and this incident will be at the top of the page: www.KMBC.com, www.KSHB.com , www.KCfox4news.com , www.KCTV5.com... Not only will those local stations have the news story, but www.cnn.com , www.msnbc.com , and many other national outlets will also be covering the story.
What frightens me the most is that this is just the beginning. As reporters delve into the past of this shooter, Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., 73, who goes by the name of Glenn Cross, they have found his deep ties into the KKK, once having been a Grand Dragon of the, “Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which he founded and ran in the 1980s before being sued by the SPLC for operating an illegal paramilitary organization and using intimidation tactics against African Americans” (Chaloux and Mayfield 1).
Cross has a long, sordid history involving the KKK and other racist factions. “A former US Army special forces soldier who was deployed twice during the Vietnam War, he was discharged from the Army after being caught distributing racist political material” (Gaist 1).
Clearly, this man is not the example for social change. Instead, we have to start with our young people and teach them to care and respect EVERY human being with whom they come into contact. Starting with our youth may be the only chance we have of changing this worldl.
Gaist, Thomas. “Killer at Kansas Jewish Centers a Prominent Right-Wing Extremist.” www.wsws.org April 15, 2015.