Twenty years ago, in Oklahoma City, a truck blew up next to the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. 168 people were killed in that explosion, including many children who were at a daycare center in the building. This was, at the time, the worst terrorist attack on American soil. The terrorist was not a Muslim. It was a crazed insurrectionist named Timothy McVeigh.
The anniversary of this horrific event passed this past Sunday. And, hardly anyone noticed. At the time of the bombing, I was working as a Security Manager and I actually knew people who worked in the building. One person I knew as injured, and another was killed. So, this anniversary means something to me.
Yet, as we watch the political landscape change over that 20 years, we are beginning to hear some of the very same words that McVeigh used to justify his bombing. The problem is that these words are coming from people actually wanting to be President.
Two years before the bombing, McVeigh told a student reporter at the 1993 Waco standoff:
The government is afraid of the guns people have because they have to have control of the people at all times. Once you take away the guns, you can do anything to the people. You give them an inch and they take a mile. I believe we are slowly turning into a socialist government. The government is continually growing bigger and more powerful and the people need to prepare to defend themselves against government control.
Then, in the immediate aftermath of the bombing, National Rifle Association (NRA) CEO Wayne La Pierre tried to justify his own insurrectionist language in a letter he sent to NRA members on Meet the Press. He wrote in his fundraising letter:
It doesn’t matter to them that the [federal Assault Weapons Ban] gives jack-booted government thugs more power to take away our constitutional rights, break in our doors, seize our guns, destroy our property, and even injure or kill us. Not too long ago, it was unthinkable for federal agents wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms to attack law-abiding citizens.
Just a few days later, former President George H. W. Bush resigned his membership in the NRA. In his letter he said:
Your broadside against Federal agents deeply offends my own sense of decency and honor; and it offends my concept of service to country. It indirectly slanders a wide array of government law enforcement officials, who are out there, day and night, laying their lives on the line for all of us.
It would be nice to say that things calmed down after all of this. And, for a time, it seemed to do just that. But today, we are hearing the same kind of insurrectionist rhetoric from actual Republican Candidates for President of the United States of America.
That crafty Canadian Senator Ted Cruz wrote a fundraising letter to his supporters. In it he said:
The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution isn’t for just protecting hunting rights, and it’s not only to safeguard your right to target practice. It is a Constitutional right… to serve as the ultimate check against governmental tyranny–for the protection of liberty.
There was very little criticism from Republicans or conservatives about this item. Senator Lindsey Graham tried to say something, but it was extremely weak criticism at best. He said “well, we tried that once in South Carolina. I wouldn’t go down that road again. I think an informed electorate is probably a better check than, you know, guns in the streets.”
Graham is looking to run for President himself. It might appear that he would take a little harsher view of Cruz’s viewpoint on this matter. But that won’t happen. Remember Graham bragged about owning an AR-15 so he could shoot people in his neighborhood following a natural disaster. How is that for Presidential material?
Of course, the crazies need to outdo even Ted Cruz. Dr. Ben Carson, speaking at the NRA national meeting in Nashville in April said:
As I got a little older and approached the teen years, I saw a lot of guns. They weren’t necessarily carried by people who were law-abiding citizens, either and I remember seeing people lying on the ground with bullet holes waiting to die. I remember both of my older cousins who we lived with were killed and I remember the drug dealers, many of whom we liked because they brought us candy. I remember the days when they would be killed and there was a lot of carnage that I saw. And then as a surgeon, I spent many a night operating on people with gunshot wounds to their heads; and all of that is horrible. But I can tell you something. It is not nearly as horrible as having a population that is defenseless against a group of tyrants who have arms and that’s what we have to always bear in mind in this nation.
And since the NRA meeting became a Republican presidential campaign event, Ted Nugent just had to get into the act as well. Nugent is the wacko who is a NRA Board Member and had once mused about shooting Senator Harry Reid claiming our “government has turned on us.” But to be certain his message was clear, he went on to say:
Go forth into that quiet night and let our government know we want separation of powers. Tell them to be the watchdogs our Founding Fathers wanted them to be, not to be a united force against the citizens. So take this good [guns] and use it against the bad and the ugly. It’s a target rich environment. If it was duck season, there’d be so many ducks, you could just close your eyes and shoot ’em. Don’t close your eyes and don’t shoot just yet, but plow forward and demand accountability … So now let’s take all that good and crush the bad and the ugly, when we identify the gun-grabbers and freedom-haters.
If this all sounds familiar, it is because it is. Go to any of the fascist groups website, and you will find very similar language there. It is almost like Ted Cruz is getting his material from one of these fringe hate groups.
While we are at it, something that isn’t being talked about very much is the fact that an anti-government group called “The Oath Keepers” have gathered at the Sugar Pine Mine in Oregon to provoke another standoff with Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agents attempting to temporarily shut it down due to the violation of federal regulations.
Or, do you remember the T-Shirt that Timothy McVeigh was wearing on the day he blew up the government building in Oklahoma City? He got the shirt at a gun show. It had a picture of President Abraham Lincoln on the front with the words “SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS [THUS ALWAYS TO TYRANTS].” On the back, it featured an excerpt of a quote from Thomas Jefferson: “THE TREE OF LIBERTY MUST BE REFRESHED FROM TIME TO TIME WITH THE BLOOD OF PATRIOTS AND TYRANTS.”
It is sickening enough to me that 20 years after we buried 168 people who were victims of that horrific terrorist act, we are hearing the same rhetoric as Timothy McVeigh used. The real troubling part is that this rhetoric is not just coming from fringe elements, but from our Republican Politicians who wish to be President! If they are so comfortable using insurrectionist language to get elected, what kind of country would they usher in if elected?
But, it is a very bad omen that indicates just how tight of a grip the NRA has on the Republican Party. If the NRA and presidential candidates like Cruz and Carson keep spouting such nonsense, how long will it be before the next Timothy McVeigh takes another shot at the government and kills hundreds of people?
Twenty years ago I wept for the loss of people I knew in Oklahoma City. Six years later I wept again over the loss of friends I lost during the 9/11 attack. To me, there is no difference between these two terrorist attacks. Except that today, some people running for President scream about the second, but seem to support the first. The first is even more frightening to me because it was carried out by a citizen of our country. It is harder to stop people like McVeigh than a foreign terrorist.
I just hope that as a nation we find the strength to slap these insurrectionists down and shut them up. If not……