April 19 marked the 15th anniversary of the bombing in Oklahoma City, which took the lives of 168 people including 19 children. Timothy McVeigh, the right-wing terrorist who set the bomb at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, to his dying day never showed any remorse or regret for his heinous crime. In fact, taking a human life was not a problem for him. He had been in the U.S. military and had accepted fascist ideology somewhere along the way, becoming dehumanized to the point where killing innocents served what he thought was a “higher purpose” — revenge for the federal government’s role in the Waco shoot out.
It brings to mind how wrong the people are who try to play down, even dismiss, the racism and threatening/violent speeches at the tea party rallies. Their hateful words cannot be rationalized because, “people are as mad as hell” at the policies of the Obama administration. This is no movie. This is the real world.
And what is their anger all about? They say they are angry about high taxes, but Obama has actually lowered taxes on 95 percent of the people.
They sat they are angry about gun control, which Obama has not been particularly pushing.
They’re oppose to government spending to bail out Wall Street, but they are even more opposed to putting any restrictions on Wall Street’s thievery that brought on the current crisis.
They also oppose government spending to help people without health coverage, and are even angrier at helping those facing foreclosure, or who are jobless, hungry and homeless.
And at their rallies, the overwhelming presence of racist and red-baiting signs and humiliating speeches, aimed at degrading Obama, shows a deep and irrational hatred for our first African American president.
They say they are not racist, but no one in that movement is speaking out against racism.
These people are on the extreme ultra right fringe politically. Despite all the media hype, they represent just 18% of the population, according to a recent poll.
Yet, they should not be discounted because the dominant right-wing media has given them a voice far bigger then their real numbers. They have attracted a lunatic fringe that includes those who are openly for a right-wing armed insurrection and are preparing for it. This is not a legitimate movement that just wants to be heard.
Here are some alarming reports mentioned in recent USA Today article on a Washington, DC tea party rally.
- After referring to the federal government as “the gangster government,” Michele Bachman, R Minn., said, “We need to take out some of these guys”
- Sharon Angle, Republican seeking her party’s nomination to run against Nevada’s Senator, Democrat Harry Reid, urged the “open carry” of guns. “I feel a little lonely today. I usually bring Smith and Wesson.”
At another tea party rally in Austin, Texas, Jim Dillon walked through the crowd carrying an AK47, he said was unloaded and legal. A state trooper stopped him examined the weapon and let him continue walking with it, USA Today reported.
What also comes to mind is the disgruntled taxpayer who flew his plane into the IRS building in Texas, February 19, killing two people and himself.
Also, James Von Brunn, known white supremacist and anti-Semite who entered the Holocaust Museum in January, opened fire and killed Stephen Tyrone Johns, an African American museum security guard.
This week, the New York State Supreme Court convicted a white teenager from Long Island, N.Y., of manslaughter for stabbing to death Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant. Immigrant advocates had criticized the police department for their failure to follow up complaints of anti-immigrant bias attacks. They also blamed local county leaders and politicians for “fueling the hostility with anti immigrant statements.”
In a recent interview, former President Bill Clinton, who was in office when the Oklahoma bombing took place, pointed out that before the bombing then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich had characterized the Clintons as “enemies of ordinary Americans.” That was done in the highly charged atmosphere after the Branch Davidian shootout that ended in tragedy in Waco, Texas.
In response to the anti government rhetoric coming from the tea party and politicians associated with them, Clinton said, “There can be real consequences when what you say animates people who do things you would never do.”
I am reminded of June 1963 when George Wallace stood in the doors of the University of Alabama and uttered those defiant words, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” This was a bold defense of Jim Crow racism but it was done in the name of “states’ rights.” That is the same rationale used by Republicans today to block health care reform in states they control.
But the most important thing to remember was Wallace’s words, standing in the door, gave license to the Klan, blinded by hate, to set that bomb off at the 16th St. Baptist church, which killed those four little girls. That August, 250,000 people came to Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
If these racist, government haters are not politically defeated and the authorities don’t do their job to protect the innocent, new hate crimes will be committed and a tragic part of our history will be repeated.
For starters, we all need to heed the words of AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka when he said, “What I believe is the only way to fight the forces of hatred” is with a “progressive tradition that includes working people in action, organizing unions and organizing to elect public officials committed to bold action to address economic suffering.”
Let’s do it!