The Conversation

The Christian Victims of Antisemitic Hatred

In 1999, as I was preparing to leave my home town of Skokie, IL for six months of study in Israel, an antisemitic white supremacist fanatic went on a shooting spree in the area. He wounded several Jews, none of whom died. He did, however, kill a black man--Northwestern University basketball coach Ricky Byrdsong, who was out for a walk with his family. I knew Byrdsong personally: he had written me a letter as I was graduating high school.

I was deeply moved by the perhaps small detail that two of the three victims of the shootings at the Kansas City Jewish community institutions on Sunday, grandfather William Lewis Corporon and his grandson Reat Griffin Underwood, were both Christians. I have rarely been so upset by a news story, and in a world where bad news is part of the daily diet, that's saying something. The eulogy by daughter/mother Mindy Corporan is amazing.

This terrible event is a reminder that we live in an amazingly, wonderfully diverse society, one in which we come together effortlessly--and one in which we often suffer together as well. An attack on any group of Americans is really an attack on us all--and not just metaphorically. Oddly, though, I still can't shake the terrible sadness that a Christian family and community had to suffer as we Jews have often done. Their dignity is an inspiration.



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