Sunday, April 19, 2020

Controlavirus Politics And Media On The 25th Anniversary Of The Oklahoma City Bombing


NYTimes |  The bombing’s 25th anniversary arrives on Sunday, and both historians and those who experienced the attack directly worry that the memory is fading even as the violent ideology that inspired Mr. McVeigh grows ever more prevalent.

“In today’s political environment, I hear echoes of the kind of rhetoric that I think inspired the perpetrators of the bombing,” David F. Holt, 41, the mayor of Oklahoma City, said. “I think that we all have an obligation to look at Oklahoma City — to look at that scar we have in our downtown — and remember where this all leads when you call other people your enemy, when you try to foster division and difference.”

Most events marking the anniversary were canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak. The annual reading of the names was prerecorded, along with brief remarks by various political figures. Local television stations planned to broadcast the hourlong remembrance video, which is also available online, on Sunday morning.

Homegrown terrorism is the main factor setting Oklahoma City apart.

“Americans forgot it pretty fast,” said David Neiwert, whose book “Alt-America” chronicles the spread of far-right extremism. “It is a difficult story to tell. It runs up against the whole narrative of American exceptionalism because that was an American terrorist, and Americans like to think that they don’t do that sort of thing, only guys in turbans do that.”

 Convicted of murder and other crimes in federal court in 1997, Mr. McVeigh was executed three months before the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Mr. McVeigh, 26 at the time of the bombing, grew up a skinny, bullied kid in a typical middle-class home outside Buffalo. He joined the Army at 20, earning a Bronze Star as a gunnery sergeant in the Persian Gulf war.

While in the military, Mr. McVeigh grew increasingly obsessed with guns and hostile toward the U.S. government. Washing out of an audition for the Special Forces set him on the path toward the paramilitary wing of the white power movement.

Lacking a girlfriend or a promising job, he penned bitter letters. “Is a Civil War imminent?” he wrote to one newspaper. “Do we have to shed blood to reform the current system? I hope it doesn’t come to that. But it might.”