While Kansas City-area residents mourn those murdered in the shootings at Jewish centers, and while we pray that the living shall seek justice, we should also learn from these terrible events.
The alleged shooter, known best as Glenn Miller, spent virtually his entire adult life as a confirmed national socialist, or neo-Nazi. He fervently believes black people and people of color are a lesser species than white people. He thinks that an international conspiracy by Jews runs his world.
Like most white nationalists, he was undeterred by the self-evident falseness of his claims. In his own words, he did his best to emulate Adolph Hitler.
Miller had one moment of leading others in the mid-1980s. He shifted out of the National Socialist Party, created a short-lived Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and then turned his Klan group into an organization known as the White Patriot Party.
The new group eschewed the Klan’s titles and structure, and became a para-military outfit that marched across North Carolina and occasionally into Tennessee and other nearby states.
They also trained with weapons and planned to create a whites-only republic in the Carolinas. At the time, well over a thousand men and women joined. They became a real threat to the communities in which they marched, which tended to have outbreaks of racist violence after the marchers went home.
Miller credited only himself for the growth of the White Patriot Party, but he had a ready set of second tier leaders. After lawsuits and criminal prosecutions broke his organization, and sent him briefly to jail, many of those second-rank leaders joined other organizations and some had moments of their own organizational advances.
Today, there are tens of thousands of men and women with similar national socialist and white nationalist beliefs in the United States. Some are trying to re-build the Jim Crow past, when black people were second-class citizens without protection of the law and without voting rights. Most want to quit a multi-racial America and create a whites-only territory that they can claim and turn into their own country.
In the Kansas City region, members of the National Socialist Movement rallied in Kansas City last November. There are a few Klansmen, many Posse Comitatus-types, and white power skinheads.
There are also members of the Council of Conservative Citizens, which is directly descended from the old white Citizens Councils of the 1950s and 1960s. Some will run for office, hoping to win a breakthrough like David Duke achieved in Louisiana in 1989. Others are happy to just gather a few new recruits.
And there has been Glenn Miller, living in southwest Missouri since the 1990s like a time bomb, waiting to explode.
This national socialist and white nationalist ideology has yet to die, and it will live long after Glenn Miller is gone.
It must be closely monitored by organizations like the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights (www.irehr.org) and others. And we must learn to actively oppose these ideas, to promote a truly democratic, multiracial, interfaith society for the common good of all.