The way some people talk, people like the moron who shot people at two different Jewish establishments in Overland Park KS yesterday don't exist anymore. The shooter, who killed three people, is believed to be a former Grand Dragon of a Carolina branch of the Ku Klux Klan and an active white supremacist, as well as a failed political candidate, whether in major-party primaries or as an independent, on multiple occasions. The man believed to be the killer made news as a candidate a few years ago when he claimed that radio stations were obliged, by virtue of his candidacy, to air his inflammatory ads; the FCC ruled that he failed to meet the institutional criteria for a "bona fide" candidate. He went on a Jew-hunt, presumably, but two of his victims were Christians, a grandfather taking his grandson to some show audition being held at the JCC. The suspect reportedly yelled "Heil Hitler" at reporters as he was put in a police car.
Some people want us to believe that white supremacism or violent Christian chauvinism aren't real problems in this country. That claim usually comes from people who resent being labeled white supremacists or just plain bigots simply because they oppose or even hate President Obama, or because they resent all immigration by Hispanics, legal or illegal, or because they fear all Muslims, etc. Such people take solace from the discovery that the suspected killer had run in primaries for both major parties in recent years. That fact gives some fresh occasion to remind us that Democrats were the racist party for a larger portion of American history, as if events of the last fifty years remain less relevant to the present than everything that came earlier. Some sophists ask what they think is the right question -- "what's conservative about the KKK, anyway?" -- but that only shows the extent to which "conservative" has lost its literal meaning in the U.S., especially for self-proclaimed conservatives. For everyone else, the "conservative" aspect of white supremacism is self-evident. For that reason people who proclaim themselves conservatives, even if they really aren't bigots of any sort, will always have to deal with critics who hold them responsible or accountable for the excesses of racial or religious bigots. It may not be fair, especially in the case of a fringe figure like this Kansas killer, but conservatives have chosen the label for themselves. Instead of simply declaring themselves Capitalists and identifying themselves with the decidedly unconservative concept of "creative destruction," they identify themselves with many of the same "traditional values" that less ideological or intellectual types espouse, and look for their country's golden age in a past whose social and cultural values are unacceptable by most 21st-century standards. As a result, Republicans can't keep enough distance for comfort from extremists like the Kansas killer, no matter how they try -- and some people still wonder how much they really try.