Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Ten Years After: Musings on Domestic Terror

Today was the day when terrorists blew up the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. I remember when the news first hit. The conventional belief was that foreigners, probably brown-skinned Muslims, did it. So of course the usual right-wing media suspects were all for stringing them up without trial. Nobody cared to try and figure out why such a crime was committed. Nobody asked about what motive these supposed Muslims would have had for doing this. Then the evidence started coming to light, and it pointed straight at a bunch of white guys from Michigan, hyper-conservative racist gun nuts who were part of the "militia movement". And suddenly the same folks who'd been yelling "string 'em up!" got all touchy-feely on us. Suddenly, motive became very important. Suddenly, all sorts of excuses -- revenge for Waco, revenge for Ruby Ridge, revenge for whatever -- not only were mentioned, but accepted as full justification for the murder of 168 people, many of whom were children (the Murrah Building had a day care center). Hell, a lot of the REALLY wacky people -- such as the gunshop-working father of a friend of mine -- think that the government did it in order to discredit the Nice Honorable White People in the militia movement. And the same thing has played out with Eric Rudolph. When folks thought Arabs did it, no one cared about motive. But when it was found that a Nice White Supremacist Boy did it, people fell all over themselves trying to make excuses for him -- even turn him into a hero, in some cases. The media go into ecstatic frenzies when somebody like Jose Padilla is allegedly connected to Al-Qaeda; they make him into Public Enemy Number One. But when a Noonday, Texas white supremacist loads up over a hundred bombs, many of them disguised as suitcases, to give to his militia friends -- someone who, unlike Padilla, has been shown to be a clear and present danger to Americans -- the press by and large looks the other way.

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