Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thoughts on the DC Holocaust Museum Shooting

By now we've all seen the sad news about the shooting yesterday at the US Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. Many of us have taken time to pray for the family of the slain guard, Stephen Tyrone Johns, and we shook our heads because we can't begin to understand how an 88 year-old World War II veteran and MENSA member, James W. von Brunn, could be so hateful and violent.

Over the past 24 hours, I've read and overheard some people say that it was a shame that the shooter is still alive, while an innocent security guard is dead.

With all due respect, while I understand and share the outrage behind those statements, I couldn't disagree more.

The image that is repeatedly being broadcast on the cable news channels of a team of paramedics working to stabilize von Brunn, shows us that the majority of these paramedics were African-Americans. Isn't that image alone a powerful refutation of this man's racist, hateful ideology?

Furthermore, the fact that von Brunn is alive means he will be charged with murder, and we can be certain that the national media will cover every detail of his trial. This trial is an opportunity to shed light on ideologies of hate, an opportunity to prove to the nation and the world that love and equality are superior to prejudice and hatred.

I remember when the US Holocaust Museum was first being built, and there were more than a few people that questioned why taxpayer money should be spent on a museum commemorating something that happened on another continent and addressing issues that they claimed were "over".

Yesterday's shooting shows us why the Holocaust Museum is necessary. We must never forget that violence motivated by hatred is real, and that it must be opposed.

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