James Von Brunn, 88-year old white supremacist, may receive the death penalty for the killing of security guard Stephen Tyrone Johns.
The events of this Wednesday are rippling the nation the way many public killings do. An issue we thought was gone in a place we thought was safe resurfaces, and millions of people can feel the tension now.
The following day, a note was found in Von Brunn’s vehicle. “You want my weapons – this is how you’ll get them,” read part. “The Holocaust is a lie… Obama does what his Jew owners tell him to do.”
It’s an old ideology we’ve seen surface in our nation before. For decades now we’ve been sick of it, as we should be whenever it rears its head. Moments like this, like when two skinheads in Tennessee announced their plans to kill the President-Elect, are when we remember that we are united by something other than war. After all our shock shown towards Holocaust-deniers in the Arab world, we’re forced to admit that this time the attacks came from us.
I can’t say for certain how America has reacted to this. Jewish Journal now writes that the shooter’s Judaism-centered conspiracy is widely believed, albeit by less violent individuals. But I haven’t heard or read one word, not even so much as a Facebook status or wall post, acknowledging that this happened.
His ex-wife and son Erik, who had known about his online involvement in anti-semitic and Neo-Nazi groups, expressed their disdain for the path that he’d gone down. “He was eaten alive like a cancer with his hatred of Jews and blacks,” she told news networks.
The man wasn’t unstable, and it is assumed he worked alone. He had spent 6.5 years in prison after attempting to “arrest” the Federal Reserve Board of Governors with weapons lining his trench coat. He later claimed that the Board of Governors was a secret means of Jews controlling government. The conspiracy theory, which he mapped out in his disseminated but unpublished books years ago, held that Jews controlled much of the world and plans to “destroy the white gene pool.”
James Von Brunn had no history of mental illness, leaving us with the frustrating conclusion that “killers” like himself aren’t “crazy.” Though his conspiratorial beliefs and racial discrimination may be unfounded, they led him to rally for his causes throughout most of his life.
More recently, a judge has announced that Von Brunn is too critically injured to appear in court.
Knowing Von Brunn’s background and crime, I might call the judge’s verdict ridiculous. Perhaps we’d like to see a quick sentencing, or even vigilante justice, so we can leave this whole anti-Semitism issue alone for a few more years. I strongly advise the strictest possible case of the former.
But while he remains in the spotlight, let us take note while we can. This misdirected theory of blame will be present in America long after we die. But that doesn’t mean we, as individuals, can’t nip every bud of prejudice we see. Investigations into Von Brunn’s life are now showing early signs of his ideology, in instances in his childhood when he first began blaming his problems on Jews and racial minorities. Someone could have spoken to him then. One instance alone may not have saved the life of Stephen T. Johns, but enough good influences could have saved Von Brunn’s own mind.
It is not a crime to leave a child to his own devices. The crimes he goes on to commit, however, will be.
Stephen Tyrone Johns: 1970-2009