The bizarre American tradition of neighbors and acquaintances vouching for the niceness and normalness of brutal murderers continues today with Frazier Glenn Miller, the 73-year-old man who yelled “Heil Hitler!” after allegedly killing three people in Kansas on Sunday. In today’s New York Times he’s described as “a retiree,” a “‘very personable man of typical habits,” and “affable,” his conversations, even with opponents, “congenial.” The big “but …” with Miller, however, is that he made no secret of his affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan, he had a well known criminal record for white supremacist activities, including hoarding weapons and plotting an assassination, and spoke far and wide, as a public figure, about how much he hated Jews. Then, as promised, he murdered three people outside of Jewish centers (although none of his victims turned out to be Jewish).
The baffling view, presented as some sort of dramatic contrast for narrative’s sake in the Times, almost reads like parody, the second half of each line all but erasing the first.
The news of Mr. Miller’s arrest almost, but not quite, surprised Heidi Beirich, the director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups. Ms. Beirich has had several telephone conversations with Mr. Miller, whom she described as both congenial and so virulent in his anti-Semitism that his hatred took her aback.
“He looked like who he was, in part: a retiree who was said to have just spent part of his weekend at a casino. Then, from the back seat, he shouted a hoary phrase tinged with a Southern inflection: ‘Heil Hitler!’”
“Locally, he is known as an affable man, pretty much like anyone else, except for his views that Jews deserve extermination, and that the white race is, as he has written, “drowning literally in seas of colored mongrels.” He has mostly kept to himself, except when handing out white-supremacist literature.
Miller self-published a white-power book (“Let the blood of our enemies flood the streets …”), appeared with Howard Stern to blame the Jews for everything, and told Talking Points Memo in 2012, “white people, we have no power at all. We have nobody representing us, we have no leaders, we have no organization, we have no unity, no solidarity, we’re not even allowed to complain about our extinction.”
And still, the SPLC’s Beirich was grappling with his evil acts. “On the one hand, I’m a little surprised,” she told the Times. “He has emphysema, spent most of his time posting nasty things on a website, and hadn’t done anything in years. On the other hand, how can you be surprised when a guy who’s spent his life saying the Jews should be killed decides to go kill Jews?” You just never know who’s going to wind up committing a horrible hate crime — except when you do.