Same hate, different year

Frazier Glenn Cross (left) and Joseph Paul Franklin.   Photos courtesy Johnson County, Kan. Sheriff’s Department (Cross) and Missouri Department of Corrections.  


I had planned to devote this space to Part II of my modest series about young, Jewish entrepreneurs, which had its Part I last week. But then Sunday’s shootings in suburban Kansas City occurred, and that changed my plan.

Like you, I was horrified and deeply upset when I heard the news. Three lives ended allegedly at the will of an anti-Semitic hatemonger with a gun. I still can’t get my hands around someone going to a Jewish Community Center to randomly shoot people in a parking lot before driving a short distance to another Jewish facility to gun down someone else. Then I heard the name of that someone.

At first it didn’t register, largely because of the surname. But as more details around the shootings emerged, it became clear that the alleged gunman, first identified as Frazier Glenn Cross, 73, of Aurora, Mo., was also F. Glenn Miller. And that’s when I remembered.

In 2010, while reporting on stories about hate crimes for the Light, I interviewed Miller, who told me he was a “white separatist.” During our phone interview, he said he was running as a write-in candidate for the U.S. Senate from Missouri to “expose the Jewish genocide against the white Gentile race.”


Part of our conversation centered on radio ads to tout his candidacy, in which he chastised white men, calling them “cowards” for allowing Jews to take over “our government, our banks and our media.” Those assertions were followed by a description of how “tens of thousand of foreign mud people” have invaded America and “taken our jobs and our women,” and ended with Miller urging “white men to unite, join together and take our country back” by voting for him for the U.S. Senate.

What a surprise — that plan didn’t work.

After listening to Miller rant about his hatred of Jews, saying we had demonized the word “German” and referring to us as “parasites,” I remember hanging up and wanting to take a shower. I needed to wash away the stench of his venom.

On Monday, Dale Singer, a friend and former colleague asked if he could interview me about my conversation with Miller for St. Louis Public Radio (KWMU), where Singer now works. He asked about Miller’s vitriolic talk against Jews, as I also recalled how when Howard Stern asked Miller whom he hated most — blacks, gays or Jews — his response was that Jews were the worst by far.

Then Singer asked me if I thought Miller capable of the kind of violence he is alleged to have committed. As much as I knew that question was coming, it gave me pause.

Through the course of reporting on hate crimes, I’ve spoken to a long list of career haters. The list includes Joseph Paul Franklin, who after 15 years on death row, was executed in Missouri last November for the 1977 murder of Gerald Gordon. Franklin fatally shot Gordon on the parking lot of the former Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel (BSKI) temple in Richmond Heights as he was leaving a bar mitzvah service.

As the Kansas City events unfolded Sunday, I also learned of the passing, that very same day, of Rabbi Benson Skoff, who had officiated at the bar mitzvah the day Franklin shot Gordon.

Franklin, a longtime white supremacist, had been convicted of killing many more people than Gordon; in fact, he was given six life sentences. When I spoke to Franklin in jail in 2010, he maintained how “the devil had control” over his mind when he killed Jews, gays and blacks, and how meditation and his interests in Eastern religions had turned his life around. He blamed a childhood filled with abuse, later coupled with his own alcoholism, on becoming a neo-Nazi and wished the killings never happened but added, “there is no way you can go back and undo something like that.”

I knew Franklin was a sociopath and would likely say anything to avoid execution. Yet there was a part of me that wanted to believe he was genuinely remorseful.

One thing’s for sure — there aren’t enough remorseful souls out there. Currently, there are more than 900 known hate groups operating across the country, including neo-Nazis, Klansmen, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, black separatists, border vigilantes and others, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a national hate watch group.

Since 2000, the number of hate groups has increased by 56 percent. Part of this uptick has been fueled by people like Miller, a former “grand dragon” of the Ku Klux Klan, who has posted more than 12,000 times on the anti-Semitic, white supremacist Vanguard News Network website since its launch in 2000.

Yet when Singer asked me if I thought Miller was capable of such behavior, I responded: “With folks like that you think they’re a lot of talk. When I heard about his (alleged) actions, I was really shocked.” 

Not exactly the most profound answer, but true. I was shocked. I still am. I couldn’t imagine his spouting being more than just that, maybe because I didn’t want to think he, or anyone else, could have that capacity.

And even though I know that Miller isn’t alone, that there are more like him out there, the indecency of such flagrant acts as he’s accused of, the senselessness, still seems unfathomable.

So what’s the take-away here? I’m not sure. All I know is that I keep thinking about Mindy Corporan, both the mother who lost a 14-year-old son and the daughter who lost a 69-year-old father in Sunday’s shootings. I think about her poise under these worst of circumstances, and how she is coping with such unimaginable grief.

“It’s the prayers that help,” she said Tuesday. “So keep on praying.”

Maybe that’s all any of us can do. Keep on praying for the hate to end.