It takes a special sickness to commit the kind of crime that the Kansas City community witnessed Sunday.
Violent political extremism combined with naked hate becomes a potent kind of virus, the sort that disrupts the human brain in ways most civil people on this earth cannot even fathom. Unfortunately, the annals of American history — and history elsewhere, of course — contain far too many instances of deranged violence committed by the worst sort of human. These are the stubborn, stunted and delusional people whose irrational certainty in their own brand of political rightness and racial superiority blinds them to the real values of truth, liberty and happiness.
From the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln to the birth of the Ku Klux Klan after the Civil War, from lynchings of the 1930s and murders of the Civil Rights era to the rise of neo-Nazis, white supremacists and cult religionists of recent decades, from the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City to the fatal shootings outside the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom in Overland Park, we have a long and ugly record to remind us of the slimiest underbelly of American political thought and freedom.
It is too easy to dismiss such perpetrators as mere haters. It is far more important to recognize the individuals who create and attach themselves to such movements as political operators. Some lie low in the margins, some crave attention in public and online, and some appear uncomfortably close to the surface in what passes for American political conversation.
It is high time that we recognize these extremists as terrorists. “Domestic terror” is real and it occurs far too often. In just the last few years: a fatal shooting at the Holocaust Museum in Washington; the firebombing of an interracial couple’s house in Arkansas; the planned bombing of a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Spokane, Wash., and others.
Americans must take pains to become more aware of these lurking threats. And we must be more vigilant to stand against them.
Yet we also must remind ourselves that, in the face of despicable acts, this community shows its heart fearlessly.
For an example, we turn to Mindy Corporon. It takes a special strength to do what she did Sunday night.
She appeared at an interfaith service, announced herself as the daughter and mother of the two persons killed outside the Jewish Community Center just seven hours before and thanked those in attendance for their concern. “We all grieve in different ways,” she said. She took comfort in the knowledge that her father, William Lewis Corporon, and her 14-year-old son, the aspiring singer and debater Reat Griffin Underwood, were reunited in heaven. And she declared to atearful audience
that life will go on.
In the wake of this tragedy, that is an extremely human moment to remember and to embrace.