Extremists are, by definition, outliers, yet they give expression to a corrosive resentment of race and religion that sits just below the surface. This is the unspoken evil that animates a hate crime.
When the former grand dragon of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan allegedly killed William Lewis Corporon and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, and Terri LaManno next to a Jewish senior living facility, his mission was to terrorize American Jewry.
In fact, he shot to death two Methodists and a Catholic. Unlike the bigoted world of sectarian and race separatists, most Americans are fine with pluralism and diversity. Most, not all.
The Midwest act of terrorism echoed the horror of the 1985 murders of civil rights attorney Charles Goldmark, his wife, Annie, and their two young sons in Seattle. The killer, a right-wing militant, believed Goldmark was a Jewish Commie. He was neither. Yet the Goldmark murders justifiably are considered one of the worst anti-Semitic crimes in the history of the American West.
The 2006 shooting at the Jewish Federation of Seattle that killed one woman and injured five others was the consummate hate crime. No city, no state is insulated from racism and intolerance.
Seven years ago a tangle of events, seemingly disconnected, topped off at the old Everett Elks club. The Illegal Immigration Summit of 2007 was a lesser angels’ showcase of xenophobes, racists, and conspiracy theorists — outliers who, one convulsed soul after another, gave expression to Snohomish County’s dark corners.
Shawna Forde, an Everett City Council candidate at the time, warned the gathering about a rising tide of undocumented aliens. “I’m through with people who don’t belong in my country and who tax my system,” she said. Forde was through enough that she teamed with a Minuteman cohort, Jason “Gunny” Bush, and killed an Arizona man and his 9-year old daughter, Brisenia Flores. Today both Bush and Forde sit on Arizona’s death row.
As with Sunday’s hate crime, we should have seen it coming.
The history and series of events that culminated in Arizona — incidents and movements dating back decades — were kindling. There were the Silver Shirts. There was the patriot and militia movements and a local version of Posse Comitatus. The race baiting takes different shapes. New names, new euphemisms for an old hate.
We learn by throwing light on history. That we owe to all victims of hate crimes.