Oklahoma City bombing fuels debate on domestic terrorism

Chairs represent Oklahoma City bombing victims at memorial on the site.

Oklahoma City bombing victims are symbolized by empty chairs at a memorial on the former site of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Flickr photo.

The Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City that killed 168 people 15 years ago today was the deadliest domestic terrorist attack in U.S. history. As America looks back on the Oklahoma City bombing, disturbing parallels can be seen in today’s political climate and national mood. Violent anti-government rhetoric from right-wing extremists and Republican politicians, along with the shootings at Fort Hood last fall, and the suicide crash of a small plane into an IRS building in February are signals that domestic terrorism is on the rise.

Oklahoma City bombing victims remembered

The 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing was chosen by President Barack Obama as a National Day of Service and Remembrance for Victims and Survivors of Terrorism. Last Friday he issued a proclamation with these opening remarks:

“There is no greater evil than willful violence against innocents. On this National Day of Service and Remembrance for Victims and Survivors of Terrorism, we pause to remember victims of terrorism at home and abroad, we honor the heroes who have supported them, and we redouble our efforts to build the kind of world that is worthy of their legacy.”

Oklahoma City bombing & domestic terrorism

Remembering the Oklahoma City bombing victims of 15 years ago is putting a spotlight on the atmosphere of intolerance that is brewing today. Fringe conservatives like Minnesota congresswoman Michelle Bachman and right-wing Sarah Palin play on the ignorance of anti-government extremists to draw attention to themselves. Entertainers like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh manipulate the paranoia of a declining demographic of aging undereducated white males for their own personal gain. Sooner or later, a delusional psychopath who thinks Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh is some kind of hero will follow in his footsteps.

Oklahoma City bombing underlines threat

The Oklahoma City Bombing occurred when Bill Clinton was President. Clinton, in an editorial in Monday’s New York Times, said:

” … we must all assume responsibility for our words and actions before they enter a vast echo chamber and reach those both serious and delirious, connected and unhinged. … In the current climate, with so many threats against the president, members of Congress and other public servants, we owe it to the victims of Oklahoma City, and those who survived and responded so bravely, not to cross [the line] again.”

Promoting domestic terrorism

Most reasonable people would take this sort of message to heart. Then there’s Bachman, who seems to have no concept of what is crass, especially on a day when America remembers a domestic terrorist act that killed 168 people and left 200 children with parents who were killed or disabled.

In Clinton’s Monday New York Times editorial he mentioned remarks Bachman made Thursday at a Tea Party rally in Washington when she called the Obama administration and Democratic Congress “the gangster government.”

“They are not gangsters,” Mr. Clinton said. “They were elected. They are not doing anything they were not elected to do.”

Bachman responded to Clinton’s editorial by saying:

“Because I’m using a statement like ‘gangster,’ I’m responsible for creating the climate of hate that could lead to another Timothy McVeigh and another Oklahoma City bombing. I’m in my second term as a Congresswoman, and the former president of the United States decides I’m important enough to take me out!”

Tea Partiers advocate domestic terrorism

A CBS News poll found that nearly 40 percent of Americans now believe domestic terrorism is a bigger threat than international terrorism, a marked increase from the foreign-focused fears triggered by 9/11. Meanwhile, The Nation’s Gregory Mitchell noted, “On McVeigh day, it’s worth remembering that the NYT/CBS poll found 1 in 4 tea partiers saying violence against gov’t can be justified.” According to the poll, 24 percent of self-identified Tea Party members answered yes when asked, “Do you think it is ever justified for citizens to take violent action against the government?”

Fifteen years ago one lunatic with a homemade bomb killed 168 people and left more than 600 survivors scarred for life. Perhaps the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing will make entertainers and politicians think twice about posing as faux revolutionaries … don’t hold your breath.

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