by Kiko Matsing
Finally, we should never forget what drove the bombers, and how they justified their actions to themselves. They took to the ultimate extreme an idea advocated in the months and years before the bombing by an increasingly vocal minority: the belief that the greatest threat to American freedom is our government, and that public servants do not protect our freedoms, but abuse them…
We are again dealing with difficulties in a contentious, partisan time. We are more connected than ever before, more able to spread our ideas and beliefs, our anger and fears. As we exercise the right to advocate our views, and as we animate our supporters, we must all assume responsibility for our words and actions before they enter a vast echo chamber and reach those both serious and delirious, connected and unhinged.
How crass of Bill Clinton to use the occasion of the remembrance of the Oklahoma City bombing to take a jab at the Tea Party movement, insinuating, first, that they are just a vocal minority, and, second, that they are an angry, irrational mob, ready to commit acts of violence, like Timothy McVeigh.
Also see Clinton as pop-psychologist/sociologist in a CNN interview. (He says: “In the early 70’s when we still had left-wing problems…” Is he referring to Obama pal Bill Ayers who bombed public buildings in the 60’s and 70’s?)
But it is also nice of the ex-President to, once again, remind us of his hand in stoking the fear, anger, and alienation that pushed Timothy McVeigh towards the radical path of violence.
I quoted from a 2001 Associated Press article about McVeigh’s execution, which included his own words: “The siege at Waco [ineptly carried out by Mr. Clinton’s Justice Department] was the defining event in his [McVeigh’s] decision to retaliate against the government with the bombing. … ‘If there would not have been a Waco, I would have put down roots somewhere and not been so unsettled with the fact that my government was a threat to me. Everything that Waco implies was on the forefront of my thoughts. That sort of guided my path for the next couple of years.’ ” Ouch.
It’s really unfair to blame Clinton for Timothy McVeigh’s acts, just like it’s silly to expand the circle of guilt from the guy who drove his plane into the IRS building in Austin, or the guy who open fired at security at the Pentagon. I would like to think that we are not puppets of our circumstances–be they public events like the mishandling of the Waco incident by the Clinton government, or such things as familial and social pressures. The fallout from the trendy notion of socially constructed identities is the loss of personal responsibility. Let’s restore the dignity of these killers by assigning them moral intelligence and agency, and by holding them accountable for their acts. Let’s not demean them as the left do, with paternalistic condescension, by appealing to the seduction of some quasi-preternatural “voices” in echo chambers. Underlying this is a class conceit, which assumes superiority in being able to process the codes rationally, at an Olympian distance, unlike the masses, who, like a herd of cattle, would not know any better.