t 9:02 a.m. on 19 April 1995, a truck containing more than 2200 kg of explosives was detonated outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The blast killed 168 people, including 19 children under the age of 6 who were in a federal employees' daycare centre located in the building. The bomber and his three co-conspirators were not Muslim fundamentalists who supposedly hated us for our freedom. They were white Americans who thought that they were fighting tyranny.
It would be nice to think that Americans learned a lesson from the Oklahoma City bombing, but apparently we haven't. The conditions that created the climate in which Timothy McVeigh thought that bombing a federal building and killing other Americans was an act of heroism are with us again, perhaps in an even more intense form. Right-wing extremists have much easier access to each other, to feed off each other's hatred and paranoia through the internet. Inflammatory anti-government rhetoric is normalised by right-wing talk radio personalities like Rush Limbaugh and G. Gordon Liddy and by Fox News personalities like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity.
Even prominent Republican politicians feel comfortable fanning the flames. Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele said of Nancy Pelosi, "she should be put on the firing line." House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio said that Rep. Steve Driehaus, a Democrat also from Ohio, would be "a dead man" when he returned to his district, after having voted for the healthcare reform bill. And the ever-charming Sarah Palin told a gathering of Tea Partiers, "Don't retreat -- reload!"
Ten members of the US House of Representatives and at least two US senators (Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, both of Washington) have received death threats since the passage of the healthcare reform bill. The brother of one Democratic congressman returned home to find a propane line at his home severed after his address was published on a Tea Party blogger who mistakenly thought that it was the congressman's address. The constituency offices of two Democratic congresswomen and the headquarters of the Democratic Party of Sedgwick County, Kansas, have been vandalised.
Not one, but two "Right to Carry" protests are scheduled to take place in the Washington D.C. area today. One will be held on the Mall by the Washington Monument. The other will be across the river in Virginia. That one was moved to Virginia to allow participants to open carry weapons during the demonstration.
One of the most chilling things, to me, is that in Oklahoma of all places, conservative members of the Oklahoma legislature are discussing the formation of an officially-sanctioned militia with the express purpose of "defending Oklahoma from an over-reaching federal government".
I have no statistics or studies to back this up, but I believe that the safety and security of an average American is in far greater danger from white people who consider themselves good Christians and patriots than from anyone or anything else.
What a wonderful way to memorialise 168 innocent people who were killed by right-wing extremists.