Will arrest of ex-KKK leader bring more scrutiny on white supremacists?

OPINION - It should come as no surprise that radical right-wing and white supremacist hate groups increased with the election of a black president named Barack Obama...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

The arrest of Frazier Glenn Cross for a triple murder at a Kansas City area Jewish community center and retirement complex should make us take a closer look at white supremacists.

Cross, 73, a well-known white supremacist and virulent anti-Semite, was the founder and grand dragon of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1980s, and later founded the White Patriot Party. While he may very well have acted alone, Cross is by no means alone.  He is part of a movement of domestic terrorists that raises concern.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Cross, also known as Frazier Glenn Miller, has a long history of hatred and violence.  He served for 20 years in the Army, including the elite Green Berets, and joined the Nationalist Socialist Party of America, an organization associated with the killing of communist marchers in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1979.  Cross had to retire from the military due to his neo-Nazi ties, and he subsequently accumulated weaponry and conducted paramilitary training with the help of active duty soldiers.

Cross served three years in federal prison for weapons charges (he conspired to obtain military equipment) and for plotting the assassination of SPLC co-founder Morris Dees.  More recently, Cross has run for public office, and his commentaries have appeared on the racist Vanguard News Network, founded by Alex Linder.  Linder–who has referred to African-Americans as jungle savages, and praised James von Brunn, 88, who in 2009 fatally shot a security guard in the U.S. Holocaust National Museum.

Another Vanguard user, Kevin William Harpham, placed a rat-poison-laced explosive along a parade route in Spokane, Washington on Martin Luther King Day in 2011. Further, SPLC notes that over the past five years, users of Stormfront, the first major hate website on the Internet, have murdered nearly 100 people.

It should come as no surprise that radical right-wing and white supremacist hate groups increased with the election of a black president named Barack Obama.  In addition, a bad economy and fear over losing “their” country to the inevitable brown and black majority in America were icing on the cake for politically right groups such as the Tea Party.

With Obama in his second term and health care reform a success, extremist groups lost some of their steam, and the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party coopted their message.  Mark Potok of SPLC notes that radical groups are down from 2012 to 2013, but there are still over 2,000 of these groups, including 939 hate groups and 1096 Patriot groups.  They still exist at far higher levels than the height of the militia movement on the 1990s, with some going underground, and committing acts of violence and murder.

In August 2012, white supremacist Wade Michael Page, an Army veteran, shot six people to death and injured four in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.   Last month in Georgia, a soldier confessed to killing his pregnant wife and using the insurance money to purchase weapons for his anti-government militia within the military.  Members of his militia were charged with the 2011 murder of an Army private and his girlfriend, with a goal to seize a military base, take over the government and assassinate the president.

In upstate New York, a Klansman was charged with attempting to build an X-ray weapon to target Muslims.  And last year in Colorado, a white supremacist gang member allegedly killed a pizza delivery man and the head of the state prisons while on parole.

As for Frazier Glenn Cross the white supremacist, it is no accident that he chose the eve of Passover to commit his alleged crimes.

The Jewish holiday commemorates the liberation of the Israelites under the pharaoh in Egypt.  That story of the exodus from slavery is the subject of ancient texts and old Negro spirituals alike.  Known as the feast of unleavened bread because the emancipated slaves were unable to wait for their bread to rise, and of bitter herbs representing the bitterness and hard labor of slavery, Passover is a time of sacrifice and remembrance.  The holiday is also a time to reflect on injustice, oppression, hatred and violence.

We must remind ourselves of the hate and violence in our midst today, and those such as Cross who would perpetuate it.

Follow David A. Love on Twitter at @davidalove