Community should focus on change to prevent prejudice

On Sunday, three people were fatally shot at the Jewish Community Center and a nearby Jewish assisted living facility in Overland Park, during what police are calling a hate crime.

The situation shocked the nation, surprising some people that such extreme prejudice still exists.

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Suspect Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., who has been charged with murder, is an anti-Semite who, in his own words, wanted Americans to become “Jew-wise.” He had been arrested before this incident in connection with prejudicial pursuits, and according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, his websites promoted the white race and denounced the Jewish faith, calling for extermination.

Many responses to the incident said the government or law enforcement officials should have done something when he threatened to kill Jews the first time, or the second or third time. But it isn’t illegal to hate someone or something.

The problem isn’t that law enforcement intervened too late — the problem is that the community didn’t intervene at all. Interviews with doctors and neighbors of Miller said that, besides his anti-Semitic views, he was a personable and agreeable man. But how can someone be personable and agreeable if he has so much hate in his heart?

Others excuse Miller for his actions because he may have learned it from his parents. Miller said that his father was the first to introduce him to the ideology. Miller's father gave him a copy of The Thunderbolt<em>The Thunderbolt</em>, a racist, anti-Semitic newspaper, which Miller said showed him his calling. , a racist, anti-Semitic newspaper, which Miller said showed him his calling. The Thunderbolt, a racist, anti-Semitic newspaper, which Miller said showed him his calling.

How does a 14-year-old girl get arrested for tweeting a joking threat at American Airlines, but a man like Miller openly displays hateful prejudice for many years?

Maybe community members should have stood up and told Miller that he was wrong in his beliefs. It can’t be the government’s job to force people to be nice. The government can’t always stifle public opinion. We have to talk openly about prejudice if we want it to change.

Every day, we experience some form of prejudice, whether it’s active or passive. At my serving job, I hear servers say that they won’t take a table because “they won’t tip me well.” These forms of prejudice aren’t as strong as Miller saying that “(America) belongs to the Jews who rule it and the mud people who multiply it,” but it’s still prejudice.

If we expect hate crimes like this to stop, we have to engage in active citizenship and make our own changes. We’ve made plenty of strides against prejudice, but it’s going to take generations to pass that belief to their children and so on. We aren’t past prejudice, and we can’t keep fooling ourselves by thinking that we are.