On April 19, 1995, just after 9 in the morning, another very important incident occurred in Oklahoma City. It was the second anniversary of the Waco massacre. A rush of people was moving into the Alfred P. Murrah federal building at that time. Many of them were children. There was a day care in the building.
Timothy McVeigh wanted people to remember what had happened at Waco 2 years earlier. He wanted people to remember what happened there for a thousand years. Sort of like the proposed 1,000-year reign of the Nazis in Germany. I suspect both episodes might be remembered for a thousand years. Heinous crimes have a habit of staying in memory. Good deeds rarely get such sustained attention.
McVeigh had 5,000 pounds of explosive ammonium nitrate and nitro methane in the back of his rental truck. He lit a 2 minute fuse under the day care centre in the federal building. Think about that: he parked the truck, locked it, immediately under a day care center filled with kids. McVey walked away to a get-away vehicle. The explosion killed 168 people including 19 children. It was called, “the worst act of terrorism in American history.” And it was home grown.
I remember when I heard about it that day. My immediate reaction was that it must have been initiated by some radical Islamic terrorists. A lot of Americans had the same presumption. We were wrong. It was set by radical domestic right-wing terrorists! This was home grown terrorism.
As Justin Ling said, “Oklahoma City followed years of apocalyptic declarations and incitement from the fringes of right-wing radio.” This is what president Bill Clinton said at the time in response: “They leave the impression by their very words that violence is acceptable. You ought to see some of the things that are regularly said over the airwaves in American today. Clinton ought to know. He and his wife Hillary were subjected to hate on the airwaves of America for years. they still are. Perhaps no one in America has been more hated by the American right-wing than the two of them. They were frequently accused of hideous crimes such as accusations that they killed and ate—yes ate—hundreds of children. These were the wildest untrue and hateful accusations that could a have been hurled in America. This too went on for years.
Hatred runs deep in the American right-wing.
And of course, these wild accusations were made, as always, without any evidence to back them up. The American right-wing does not need evidence to set them off. All they need is unsubstantiated claims and hate which are enough to light the fuse to the hate.
Yet Rush Limbaugh challenged Clinton the very next day on his radio show:
“Talk is not a crime and talk is not the culprit here. Talk didn’t buy the fertilizer, and the fuel oil. Talk didn’t drive the van and talk didn’t rent the van. A person did. A lunatic did.”
Yes, but talk ignited the flame that lit the fuse! Hateful talk can do that. Years of hateful talk can have an effect. The German Nazis proved that in Germany, as did the fascist Hutus in Rwanda, as did Donald Trump in America.
Talk is cheap, but hateful talk is costly.