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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

BREAKING: Racists are Stupid

Author: Reilly Capps/Monday, April 21, 2014/Categories: Uncategorized

Last week, a nasty guy named Frazier Glenn Cross, 73, shot three people to death at a couple of Jewish-run community centers near Kansas City. He was a leader in the KKK, a group of white supremacists who tend to refute their own central dogma with nearly everything they do. For starters, clan is spelled with a C. 

This guy Cross was a special kind of failure. He probably hoped that gunning down some Jewish people would be the apex of his despicable life. And so he must have been disappointed to learn that none of the people he killed were Jewish. Two were Methodist – a boy and his grandfather. The other was Catholic. He must not have realized that normal people mix, across races and religions, all the time. Cross himself might get the death penalty, which would mean that an idiot who set out to kill Jews will only accomplish the deaths of four Christians. 

Blind hate and abject stupidity -- sometimes it seems like this combination rules the world. 

Which is why it was so delightful to read in the new Time magazine that the great writer David von Drehle plucked some hope out of this pathetic mess. He writes:

What Cross's error shows is that even the most race-obsessed and tribe-conscious person imaginable – after a lifetime spent aggravating differences – could not tell one person from another when he left his cocoon of resentment. In the real world, we are mostly alike. While Cross nursed the idea that genes divide us, he proved himself wrong in the end. Shotgun poised, he couldn't tell who was who or which was which.

This fact always strikes me when I'm traveling. Though I have looked very closely at them, I cannot tell the difference between Shiite and Sunni, Serb and Croat, Protestant and Catholic. Even the Nazis, sure that the Jews were ruining Germany, had to pin stars on them. 

Hatred requires fine-toothed differentiation, while love is expansive. Why do these racists drive themselves mad by playing up our small differences, when our commonality offers a kind of transcendent poetry? Here's von Drehle, continued:

Reat (Underwood, 14, the boy who was killed), on the other hand, understood everything. Not long ago, the teenager went to the DMV for a learner's permit, and he marked YES on the organ donation form. He knew that humanity translates across races, genders, faiths and nationalities. A big heart like his could eat in nearly any chest. In life and in death, the boy proved the bigot wrong. 

It is often said that ignorance is bliss, but I find that knowing things can be just as sure of a way to happiness. Genome sequencing shows that the difference between my genes and your genes is miniscule. Evolution shows that all humans have a common great-great-great (con't) grandmother and grandfather. Advanced medicine -- through blood transfusions and so on -- has taught us that what works in me also works in you. And science can even create commonality. Organ donations would not be possible, in most cases, without the drugs that suppress your immune system's natural tendency to fight off the new foreign body. We will continue engineering ourselves closer and closer and more connected and more interdependent – unless hateful and stupid people get better at carrying out their evil plans. 

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