Remaking the Right
Everybody knows that obituaries lie — or at the very least tend to gloss over any ugly truths in the recently deceased's life. But the treatment accorded retired Lt. Col. Jack Mohr, who died July 17 in North Little Rock, Ark., may have set a whole new standard for respecting the dead.
Compiled by legacy.com, a death-notice news service owned by the Tribune Co., Mohr's obit noted that the 87-year-old had been "one of the top ten most decorated men in the Korean War." True enough. True, too, that Mohr "attended Moody Bible Institute in Chicago" and was a "lay evangelist for the last 40 years."
But a few things got politely omitted — like the fact that for most of those last 40 years, Mohr was one of the fieriest anti-Semites in America, a man with views so extreme that he was once booted off a John Birch Society speaking tour.
Mohr's brand of evangelical religion was Christian Identity, an anti-Semitic theology practiced by the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations and numerous Klan groups. Along with Ku Klux Klan leader Louis Beam, Mohr once taught an urban guerilla warfare class at the Aryan World Congress.
Later that night, a never-explained series of seven major arson fires broke out in nearby Spokane, Wash., causing $5 million in damage. Investigators suspected the arsonist had attended the class taught by Beam and Mohr earlier in the day.
Mohr spent much of his military retirement churning out self-published pamphlets ("Seed of Satan," "Are You a Brainwashed Christian?" "Firearms and Freedom!") and books (This Time Bomb Called Zionism). While he railed against gun control, sodomy and communists, Mohr always returned to his favorite subject, Jews.
"I believe they are the special children of Satan," he wrote in one of the pamphlets.
Another Korean War veteran-turned-extremist got slightly fuller treatment from newspapers when he died the day after Mohr. Though he had been forced to resign as sheriff of Polk County, Fla., in 1987 due to a host of alleged improprieties, white-supremacist leader Dan Daniels was honored with a law-enforcement funeral, complete with 21-gun salute.
After leaving office, Daniels published a monthly tabloid, The Eagle, which excoriated politicians, Jews, blacks, gay men and lesbians and the news media. In the 1990s, as the Lakeland Ledger duly noted, he became regional coordinator of the National Association for the Advancement of White People, a racist group founded by David Duke.
The NAAWP, which denied connections to the Ku Klux Klan, fell apart after a 1997 report on ABC's "Prime Time Live" showed Klan members communing with NAAWP followers at Daniels' Florida ranch.
Daniels' son, Steven, asked that his father be remembered "as a giving family man who was devoted to his career in law enforcement and loved animals."