The Lesson Learned from the Oklahoma City Bombing

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

by Daniel Nardini

It was 20 years ago on April 19th, 1995, that a lone bomber named Timothy McVeigh parked a truck bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The bomb destroyed the building, killing 168 people including 19 children at a day care center. Before September 11, 2001, it was the worst single terrorist attack in U.S. history, and remains the single worst domestic terrorist attack in U.S. history. It is hard to imagine that a single individual, who was connected to extreme right wing militia groups at the time, could carry out such a heinous crime that would kill so many innocent people. This anti-government hatred is far from dead, and there remains possible domestic terrorist threats to everyone in the United States.

There is no question today that there remain extreme right wing groups prepared to attack and kill law enforcement personnel and state and federal judges as part of, for instance, the sovereign citizens’ movement. Those who believe and follow groups dedicated to the sovereign citizens’ movement are convinced that the U.S. government is a “conspiracy” against ordinary Americans and that it is “controlled” by some dark force or external organization such as the United Nations. Because they believe that “common law” means all men are free to do whatever they want, they feel they do not need to be “restricted” by police, judges or a system of laws. Hence, they have no problem murdering innocent bystanders, police or government officials because these people were “impinging” on the rights of sovereign citizens. In so many sovereign citizens’ groups, racism and anti-immigrant bigotry play a major part of their outlook.

All of this is a very dangerous mix because these type of people can justify anything in their view of “living in a free America.” These extreme ideas are no different from what Timothy McVeigh thought when he carried out the most deadly bombing attack in U.S. history. Who is to say that someone might not try to do something similar? This time, all federal and state law enforcement agencies are looking out for such possible attacks now. But the major lesson learned is that what motivated a lone, disgruntled individual to carry out such a crime is still possible in America today.

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