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Editorial: Don’t answer hatred with silence

Hatred never ceases to amaze us.

Day after day, we learn of some act of violence, some public expression of loathing, that creates feelings of sorrow, fear and bewilderment.

It leaves us asking: How is this possible?

And as elusive as it is for decent people to understand, we cannot give up hope that someday down the road human beings will be able to rise above these primeval feelings of fear and hate.

We can begin with the shootings Sunday in the Kansas City area. A man gunned down two persons outside a Jewish Community Center — a 69-year-old man and his 14-year-old grandson. The gunman then headed to an assisted living facility, where he shot and killed a woman in the parking lot.

A man in his 70s — one that has been found to have a long history of belonging to numerous hate groups, including being a former grand wizard of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan — was apprehended a little while later. The alleged gunman, Frazier Glenn Cross, was said to have yelled “heil Hitler!” while shooting down his unsuspecting victims, who according to reports in the Kansas City Star were members of Christian denominations despite their proximity to sites associated with Judaism.

Apparently a man consumed with hate, Cross is now facing charges, including violating federal hate-crime laws — if convicted, he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

That’s little consolation to the family and friends of the victims here. Life without parole, or even the possibility that Cross will be executed for his crimes, will not bring these three innocents back.

What can we do? We must find ways to see that hatred based on religion, ethnicity, color or sexual orientation is not allowed to ferment and grow. And that starts with no longer staying silent when it comes to those who preach hate.

As Vice President Joseph Biden said during Tuesday’s memorial for the Boston Marathon bombing, “... They try to instill fear so that we will jettison what we value the most and what the world most values about us: an open society, our system of justice, our freedom of religion; our access to opportunity, the free flow of information and ideas.”

We must stand up to this hatred without succumbing to it ourselves.

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