18 April 2010

15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing

The fact that the 168 deaths at Oklahoma were the result of Americans killing Americans in the name of America has made the incident in some ways harder for the nation to process than 9/11 and the less complicated enemy, al-Qaida. "It made a terrible difference that this was homegrown terrorism," says Almon-Kok. "It left you with nothing to trust or believe in, apart from my faith that this city did everything it could in the aftermath, and that we have a legal system which, for the most part, works. But that doesn't answer why fellow Americans wanted to come killing our kids."

Perhaps this is why the Oklahoma bomb is not as centre stage in America's collective memory as it should be. When Al Gore was interviewed about the extreme right by Larry King recently, there was no mention of Oklahoma. Coverage of last month's arrests of militants belonging to an offshoot of the same Michigan militia that McVeigh belonged to omitted to mention the bomb, days away from its 15th anniversary. There is extreme awkwardness around this enemy within, but also current concern about reverberations of McVeigh's cause: war against the American government...

...nine people appeared in court in Detroit, members of an offshoot of McVeigh's Michigan militia called Hutaree, charged with "seditious conspiracy" to kill a police officer and then bomb the funeral cortege, in order to spark insurrection akin to that sought by McVeigh. The previous week, congresswoman Louise Slaughter, who voted for President Barack Obama's health care reform, received one of many threats of violence to elected representatives, this one pledging that snipers would "kill the children of the members who voted for health care reform". Such language makes the blood run cold in Oklahoma; and the fact that most people in Oklahoma are deeply conservative makes the irony of both the bomb and their disgust at this language all the more cogent.
These paragraphs are from a much longer commentary at The Guardian.

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