Kyle Troutman: Free corn with a side of antisemitism

My eldest daughter loves to check the mailbox.

Searching for anything addressed to her — or any kind of package addressed to anybody — her excitement builds when she finds something out of the ordinary, sounding like a record skipping when she repeats, “Can I open it; what is it; what is it; can I open it?”

Such was the case on the afternoon of Sept. 11, though the package she brought inside was not one we were expecting.

As unique a delivery as they come, even my daughter was more confused and questioning than excited when she handed me something I never really imagined would be delivered to my house — a baggie of dried corn and antisemitism.

Retrieved from the yard, not the mailbox, she said, was a quart-size plastic sandwich bag containing about an ounce of dried corn and a flyer.

“What is it, daddy? What’s it say?” asked my daughter, who is old enough to have read it herself if she didn’t hand it to me.

As I pulled the flyer out, it was clear what the nature of the message was. The side I saw first was headlined “Every single aspect of the LGBTQ+ movement is Jewish,” complete with multiple stars of David; photos of those who advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, each with a star of David added to their foreheads; a cherry-picked Bible quote; cherry-picked Talmud information; QR codes to the website of the antisemitic group — which I refuse to name specifically — spreading the information; and a disclaimer, “These flyers were distributed randomly without malicious intent.”

The letter-size flyer was folded in half and had four half-page “Every single aspect of XYZ is Jewish” messages, most of which was printed so poorly it was unreadable.

As I scanned the flyer, I groaned.

“What is it, daddy?” my daughter asked again. “It’s hate, honey,” I replied. “Just someone spreading hate.”

Turns out I was not the first to receive the free antisemitism, tossed into my yard and every other yard in my neighborhood, and every yard on the east side of Main Street from 10th to the high school.

Flyers first appeared on Labor Day in neighborhoods on the northwest end of Cassville, one of which was in Mayor Bill Shiveley’s driveway. He picked up 12 others nearby and trashed the flyers but gave the corn to his neighbors for their chickens.

Since Sept. 11, three flyers have been turned into Cassville police, who are searching for a man in a black four-door Ford F150 possibly to file littering charges.

Even though the flyers have a hateful message and derive from a hate group, as recognized by the Southern Poverty Law Center, First Amendment protections do apply. The messenger has all the right in the world to spread his hate, and there are more legal ways to disseminate it, though likely more costly.

While he has the right to spread such propaganda, I couldn’t disagree with it more. I don’t want my children or any other children absorbing such hateful, outdated, World War II-defeated trash, and I’m embarrassed to be living so nearby someone with that mindset, although I cannot say I’m surprised.

In 2017, an ABC News/Washington Post poll showed 1-in-10 people called it acceptable to hold neo-Nazi views, equal to 22 million Americans.

It baffles me we fought in a World War — and won it — just for a tenth of our own populace not even 100 years later to side with the losers and choose to believe something so hateful and exclusionary.

At the community meeting on Sept. 14, I thought this incident might come up. It did not. What was mentioned was how bad the country has become in recent years, and on this front, I could not agree more.

If more and more racism is where we are headed, count me out. I don’t want to be a part of it, and neither should you.

The divisiveness politically is more than enough cud for Americans to chew. If we start hating one another for who we are, kiss any kind of national progress goodbye.

In fact, neo-Nazism provides a great opportunity for bi-partisanship. Hatred of any kind should be razed if we want America to grow.

There’s no room for it, and entertaining it will only drag us backward into the pages of history books we’d rather see left behind.

So, what should you do if you find antisemitism in your front yard? Cassville police say report it, as each instance could be charged as a separate littering misdemeanor.

I support this action, and I hope that all flyers not reported end up exactly where they belong — in the garbage.

Kyle Troutman has served as the editor of the Cassville Democrat since 2014 and became Publisher in 2023. He was named William E. James/Missouri Outstanding Young Journalist for daily newspapers in 2017, and he won a Golden Dozen Award from ISWINE in 2022. He may be reached at 417-847-2610 or ktroutman@cassville-