It was Mahatma Gandhi who said, “Our life is our message.”
It is not uncommon for parents to go to the supermarket and order a customized birthday cake for their child. Some even go as far to request that their child’s face be morbidly printed in the frosting.
What is uncommon is what took place at a ShopRite in New Jersey in December 2008.
Parents Heath and Deborah Campbell went to the supermarket to order a customized cake for their 3-year-old son, Adolf Hitler Campbell. The supermarket refused the order and the authorities were notified. Adolf, and his sisters, 1-year-old JoyceLynn Aryan Nation and 8-month-old Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie, were removed from their home by New Jersey’s Division of Youth and Family Services.
“They’re just names, you know,” said the children’s father, Heath Campbell, in the New York Daily News. “Yeah, [Nazis] were bad people back then. But my kids are little. They are not going to grow up like that.”
What Heath Campbell fails to mention is he is a devout denier of the Holocaust and prefers to decorate his home with swastikas rather than traditional art and potpourri.
By naming their children in support of a cause that killed millions upon millions of innocent people, Campbell’s family is sending a message of hate and intolerance.
For another example of this cruelty, examine a case in Brooklyn, N.Y., where Keith Phoenix confessed to slaying a complete stranger, Jose Sucuzhanay. Phoenix showed no remorse as he randomly beat Sucuzhanay to death with a baseball bat. Sucuzhanay was walking home with his brother when Phoenix drove by in his SUV. Phoenix falsely presumed Sucuzhanay was gay, and reports said he left his vehicle and murdered Sucuzhanay. Phoenix continued to strike Sucuzhanay even after his body lay lifeless in the gutter.
Or look no further than the Gaede twins.
The Gaede twins, Lynx and Lamb are the teenage pop stars for the White Power movement. Their sound captures the elegance of a church hymn, but their lyrics dictate their true feelings as they sing “Strike Force! White survival. Strike Force! Yeah!”
When I hear the phrase pop star, names like Beyonce, Britney Spears and Fergie come to mind. Unfortunately, for some children they immediately think of the Beatles of the Aryan world – the Gaede sisters.
What message is being sent by two young angel-faced girls who reinforce ignorance and intolerance through church-like melodies and choruses? Only the message that true hate can take all forms and be preached by all types of people. We should be disturbed that these two girls were raised as poster children in an effort to recruit and brainwash children to be racist.
While these incidents may seem isolated and rare, they are not.
Since 2000, active hate groups have increased by 54 percent, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. There are 926 active hate groups – no doubt contributers to the 9,527 victims of hate crimes reported by the FBI in 2007. Future reports are expected to show an increase in these numbers.
There are eight Kansas-specific hate groups active in the state. The American National Socialist Workers Party is one of them. It is a Neo-Nazi group located in my hometown of Shawnee.
The American Nazi Party proclaims, that “YOU hold the FUTURE – BRIGHT (WHITE) or DARK (everybody else) – in YOUR hands, and TIME IS RUNNING OUT!”
If our life is our message then let us send a message similar to that of the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh.
“When you understand, you cannot help but love … practice looking at all living beings with the eyes of compassion.”
Bobby Gomez is a senior in elementary education. Please send comments to email@example.com.