Holocaust Memorial Museum Shooting

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Holocaust Memorial Museum Shooting

When I heard the news of the shooting at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum today, I flashed back to my first trip there when I was in 7th grade on a school trip.

I remember vividly my little card with the story of a Jewish girl whose life I followed through the museum – from her train to the camp to the death of her family and to her liberation.Of course, not all the stories on those cards ended in liberation or hope. Most ended far more like today’s shooting – in death. Most reflected the sickness of war, past and present, that can spread like a virus across time.

The 88-year old supposed WWII vet James W. von Brunn who shot and killed a security guard this afternoon at the museum renders me close to speechless.  He has a disgustingly racist and anti-Semitic Web site called Holy Western Empire that explains the “Jew conspiracy” to “destroy the white gene pool.”  He wrote a book in 2002 called “Kill the Best Gentiles” designed to educate the “WHITE YOUTH” with the “factual information” he believes this “Jew conspiracy” is trying to hide:

Upon reading TOB SHEBBE GOYIM HAROG! (KILL THE BEST GENTILES!) you will understand that "despite loud protests of denial" an age old CONSPIRACY does exist to destroy Western Civilization….You and your family are in grave danger. We will present the FACTS then discuss what actions must be taken.

You can find this preface among other selections from the book, if you have time to vomit for a bit in your mouth, on Salon.com.

This guy is clearly a nut. I mean, the Associated Press is reporting that he tried to violently kidnap members of the board of the Federal Reserve because he was upset about interest rates back in 1983.

But he’s a deeply disturbing nut. How is it that someone in this country has harbored such hatred since his time at war over 50 years ago? What was it about his experience of war that lingered? And more disturbing, what is it that we can anticipate of our troops serving today 50 years from now? And how can we stop it from being violent – both physically and spiritually?

When I was back in 7th grade, I got to the room of remembrance at the museum and just stood there, dumbfounded and in awe. Nobody spoke in there. We all just stood there – 50 7th graders, silently soaking up the tragedy we’d just witnessed in the museum.


Today, I feel a similar sense of silence and speechlessness. But it’s far more haunting. I didn’t know in 7th grade the sickness that still lurks in our collective memory from that time. And I am terrified of the sickness we are creating now in the collective consciousness of our soldiers abroad.

Comments [26]

Ashley Harness's picture

Follow up story today in the

Follow up story today in the Times with really disturbing background on the guy and his note about his motives: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/12/us/12shoot.html?_r=1&th&emc=th. Ugh.

Annie Oakley's picture

There are a lot of things

There are a lot of things fueling the anti-semetic fire right now. It's not a coincidence that "Reverend" *choke* Wright just came out with yet another ignorant statement revealing his ingrained "them Jews" anti-semetic attitude (not to mention his horrific grammar).

Almost simultaneously we have a White House photo of the President on the phone with Netanyahu, legs up on the Oval Office desk, shoe soles facing the camera. Now, even we, the masses, know what shoe soles mean in the muslim world. Aluf Benn describes the photo in Haaretz:

"A photo released by the White House, which shows Obama talking on the phone with Netanyahu on Monday, speaks volumes: The president is seen with his legs up on the table, his face stern and his fist clenched, as though he were dictating to Netanyahu: "Listen up and write 'Palestinian state' a hundred times. That's right, Palestine, with a P." As an enthusiast of Muslim culture, Obama surely knows there is no greater insult in the Middle East than pointing the soles of one's shoes at another person. Indeed, photos of other presidential phone calls depict Obama leaning on his desk, with his feet on the floor."

This photo is already being touted by some Islamic terrorists as "how Obama is humiliating the Israeli government". Some Israeli news sources are also interpreting the photo as an insult to Israel, as reported by CBS, Drudge & FOX.

I don't think Von Brunn's shooting has anything to do with his "his lingering experience of war". It has a lot to do with anti-semitic attitudes promulgated in this and many countries/cultures.

Just as the general acceptance of misogyny makes it "ok" for Letterman to describe Sarah Palin as "slutty" and joke about his fantasized rape of her daughter...

Rusty's picture

Today's contribution from

Today's contribution from Annie OneNote.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

mysticsmb's picture

The Obama shoe flap doesn't

The Obama shoe flap doesn't have a whit to do with anti-Semitism--though some will try to exploit it to serve their own agenda--and everything to do with politics. Israel is simply pissed that Obama appears to be taking a a hardline with its hardliner, Netanyahu, about settlements on the West Bank and a Palestinian state.

Rusty's picture

The hardliners are also

The hardliners are also furious with Hillary, because she won't support the secret Bush deal on expanding Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

Grace Moon's picture

at least he Obama wasn't

at least he Obama wasn't getting a BJ while on the phone with Netanyahu...

tweet tweet @gracemoon

Yvonne's picture

This was informative.. I'll

This was informative.. I'll go get a wig now.

Rusty's picture

Three of these attacks in a

Three of these attacks in a two week span? It looks like it's only going to get worse:

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

mysticsmb's picture

Yes, Rusty. The Department

Yes, Rusty. The Department of Homeland Security released a report in April warning of an uptick in violent right-wing extremism and the targeting of Jews, people of color and other minorities due in part to the economy and the 'current political landscapes' i.e. the Democrats in power, with none other than a man of color leading them. There was a huge outcry from Republicans/conservatives who denounced Janet Napolitano (head of DHS) for releasing such an inflammatory memorandum--they deemed it anti-Republican.


Maybe they should have been more focused on what the report said, rather than character-assassination of the messenger?

Kind of reminds me of that memo that got 'overlooked' in 2001. You remember the one: "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."

mysticsmb's picture

Let's also remember that the

Let's also remember that the shooter hated blacks as well as Jews and that the victim, the security guard, was a man of color...

Ashley Harness's picture

Absolutely. Thank you for

Absolutely. Thank you for reminding us of that. It's gotten lost in a lot of the coverage.

mysticsmb's picture

*edit* "...was not

"...was not coincidentally a man of color..."

camomileroses's picture

I agree...prejudice abounds.

I agree...prejudice abounds. I have great empathy for the victims of racism and am horrified by the suffering and torture african-americans have endured bcs of slavery and the mere color of their skin. god bless those who have had the strength to forgive their afflicters and god bless those who have not. it may take generations to overcome the internalized hatred one may feel bcs of the external torture and dehumanization instilled within by the shackles of slavery and racism.

LongBeachDogLover's picture

"in fact, i’m almost afraid

"in fact, i’m almost afraid to admit on this website that i am jewish for fear of discrimination, ostracization and disdain &/or hatred (although i seem to be shunned on this website anyway so what does it matter). anti-semitism can rear its ugly head in any forum and this is not a secure site."

OMG Camomileroses, why would you feel such a thing on this site?
You are not only welcome here, your voice is needed... and respected.

camomileroses's picture

thanks for acknowledging me.

thanks for acknowledging me. that warms my heart.

LongBeachDogLover's picture

**the above is for

**the above is for camomileroses**

yonks's picture

I just saw the news, its

I just saw the news, its awful.

-Do not follow me, I'M LOST-

camomileroses's picture


anti semitism fluorishes throughout the world and has uninterrupted for 2000 years and before. although some people think that the holocaust was an historical aberration, anti-semitism has never gone away even if some people think that as enlightened beings we are past all of that. history does repeats itself over and over and over again as it has with persecutions of jews
There have been so many pogroms, inquisitions, crusades, "evictions", discrimination, segregation (jewish ghettos from which the word was derived) and, yes, numerous other incidents throughout history of genocide, that hitler's almost successful genocide of every living jews was just the most recent and perhaps most systematic version of the norm.
The holocaust may have claimed the more lives than any other bcs of "modern technology" but other genocides involved even more extreme acts of torture which i am somewhat reluctant to reveal in a public forum for fear of instilling ideas:
Examples: 100,000 jews representing 10% of all jews in the world were murdered in the 1648-1649 Chmielnitzki Massacre. Various jews throughout history have been murdered in horrendous unthinkable ways, e.g. only: people skinned alive and thrown to dogs, living pregnant women's hands cut off, their bellies were cut open and the fetus flung in their faces as cats were inserted into their wombs while the flailing woman screamed with no hands; people's hands and feet cut off and thrown in the roadways to be trampled, people were systematically subjected to humiliation and burned at the stake in large "plazas" [now used for recreation in spain] for refusing to repudiate judaism and embrace christianity (and even when they did they were killed anyway), crucifixions, mostly in public places like coloseums, plazas etc., etc. anything beyond imagination has been done.

the mass exodus from europe of jews to the u.s. because of pogroms, mass murders and massacres that occurred in the late 1800s and early 1900s demonstrate other more recent persecutions. easter massacres were an annual ritual in russian towns. Had those jews not been allowed into the U.S. at that time, they most likely would have been murdered in the holocaust (my partner is the descendant of those russian and polish immigrants).

even in this country very, very recently, jews were not allowed to join certain clubs, attend certain functions or go to other social places, "stars" and others were forced to change their names to be perceived to be WASPs, etc.

so no, it is not surprising that anti-semitism continues to plague our society. it is engrained in the fabric of all societies. the 88 year old man is just one of the millions of people that have incited the persecution & elimination of jews throughout history. disturbingly, he holds on to this prejudice even though he was aware of and actually may have been to concentration camps, seen the gas chambers, the emaciated bodies of jews in concentration camps & the stenching bodies of the dead thrown in piles for disposal at the end of the war.

In fact, it would be shocking if there was no violent anti-semitism in the world today, a heretofore non-existent phenomenon in history. we know that covert anti-semiticism thrives here. I actually feel remiss in commenting on this post because, although informative, the publication of this post and my response may provide ideas to other anti-semites. in fact, i'm almost afraid to admit on this website that i am jewish for fear of discrimination, ostracization and disdain &/or hatred (although i seem to be shunned on this website anyway so what does it matter).
anti-semitism can rear its ugly head in any forum and this is not a secure site.

I am actually more fearful to be outed as a jew than as a lesbian...so this is the first public statement i have ever made on the subject...we'll see what happens. in any event, i will respond to measured & intellectually feisty replies (if any) that promote intelligent discourse even if someone presents a contrary viewpoint. I value discourse and debate. i will not, however, respond to any hateful, anti-semitic replies.

I know this has been a lengthy comment and I appreciate the perseverance you have shown in reaching this point in my comment.

mysticsmb's picture

I've never seen anything

I've never seen anything remotely anti-semitic on this website...

camomileroses's picture

i don't suspect there are

i don't suspect there are unless some imposter comes along or it's picked up by the web. thank god for monikers!

Ashley Harness's picture

Thanks for your courage

Thanks for your courage speaking up, camomileroses!

camomileroses's picture

education is the most

education is the most important mechanism of change.

minniesota's picture

Camomileroses, just wanted to

Camomileroses, just wanted to let you know that I read your comment. I do not have the right words to express my sorrow of the shooting at the Holocaust Museum.

Still searching for the right brainy quote.

camomileroses's picture

neither do i. it's mind

neither do i. it's mind boggling. thanks for your empathy and god bless the victims. may they forever be alive in our memories.

Not2Taem's picture

And more disturbing, what is

And more disturbing, what is it that we can anticipate of our troops serving today 50 years from now? And how can we stop it from being violent – both physically and spiritually?

We cannot stop it. No one can. Nothing can. You cannot sanitize war and make it proper. The sole way to avoid the consequences is to avoid the war.

In 1917 Wilfred Owen laid to rest the mockery of "Dulce et decorum est / Pro patria mori" ("It is sweet and proper to die for one's country")


conlite's picture

I have loved Wilfred Owen's

I have loved Wilfred Owen's poetry (in a sad sort of way) ever since meeting it in high school. It is insane that, despite all our modern media, there is still a huge divide between what the soldiers experience and what politicians make people back home believe they are experiencing. You would think that would have changed a little since WWI.