The Daily Bork

July 15, 2005

No one questioned giving in to McVeigh, why not?

The Times has a slightly different suggestion to how to treat domestic terrorists by looking at the Oklahoma bombings.

In this sense, the most useful analogue for last week's outrage in London may not be September 11 or even the bombing of Madrid last year, but the worst act of terrorism in postwar Western history before September 11: the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people in 1995. Timothy McVeigh, the perpetrator, was, like the London bombers, a small-time loser who felt he was acting out of intense ideological and religious motives. He was a fervent white supremacist and belonged to an extensive network of neo-Nazi fanatics who are generally believed to number many thousands across the US. His commitment to an essentially religious doctrine - that a global Jewish conspiracy, using African-Americans as their subhuman foot-soldiers, was taking over the world and preparing to exterminate or enslave all white Christians - was every bit as sincere as the faith and "piety" of many jihadist terrorists.

After McVeigh's arrest, thousands of heavily armed neo-Nazis quite like him continued to live in the mountains of Idaho and Utah and the hills of Missouri (and live there to this day), yet the Oklahoma atrocity was not repeated. Partly this may have been because McVeigh was treated as a common criminal after his capture, not as the standard-bearer of a politico-religious movement. There was, of course, intense interest in McVeigh's background and motivation, but it focused almost entirely on his psychological aberrations, not on his politics or religion. Instead of appearing as a glamorous martyr, McVeigh came across as a lonely loser, a pathetic embarrassment to his family and all who knew him, rather than a role model for other rebellious youths.

It certainly did not occur to anyone after the Oklahoma bombing to apologise for the racial desegregation which had provoked the American neo-Nazis and their ideological antecedents, the Ku Klux Klan. Nobody suggested abolishing affirmative action or banning Jews from public office on the grounds that racial mixing and the prominence of Jews was angering white supremacists and acting as "a recruiting sergeant" for more neo-Nazi terrorists who might copy McVeigh.

Should the political sensitivities and religious aspirations of jihadist killers be treated with any greater respect? The answer is clearly, no.


Which Q and O considers further...

The more I think about his point the more compelling I find it. We never questioned ourselves in the wake of Oklahoma City. We never asked "why did McVeigh hate us?". We never discussed reversing desegreation or giving into his racist tendencies. We never even considered any of his demands nor worried about his religious or ideological sensitivities. We acknowledged McVeigh for what he was, a hate-filled, neo-Nazi psychopath, and tried, convicted and executed him without apology to anyone except his victims on that horrible day.

We didn't do any soul-searching per se (sure we wanted to know what made this man tick and why he did what he did). We didn't declare ourselves guilty and decide we needed to be more sensitive to the racists among us. We condemened McVeigh. He was considered a criminal and an aberration.

What Kaletsky says is the 4 bits of scum which terrorized London last week are nothing more. Just as McVeigh managed, with help, to twist Christianity beyond recognition into a hateful and violent screed which drove his deviant life, the London 4 (among many others) are doing the same to Islam.

McVeigh was denied any political, religious or ideological martyrdom. He was treated, by the authorities (both religious and secular), media and the population, as a murderous thug, which is precisely what he was.

Kaletsky's point is that Brits shouldn't do too much soul-searching about why these 4 chose to do what they did anymore than we in the US did about McVeigh. McVeigh was an abberation, a cancer, a deviant. So were these 4. The fact that they were able to do so much damage is unfortunate and may be unstoppable, but it isn't the "fault" of Britain.

That doesn't mean that the Brits should accept the result and move on. On the contrary, they must identify, infiltrate and neutralize similar groups before they are ever again allowed to get to the point that they can mount such an operation. That's something they haven't been willing to do up to now, preferring a more hands-off, "let's monitor them" stance in hopes that they wouldn't go underground and be harder to follow.

But what Britain shouldn't do is go into a whiny state of introspective and self-indulgent "why do they hate us" questioning that portions of the political left in this country wallowed in after 9/11. Instead treat the 4 and any others involved just as we did McVeigh, and no better. Don't grant their wish for martyrdom. Instead consign them to the eternal dust bin reserved for human garbage who's only claim to fame is that they took the lives of others infinitely more valuable to this world than were they.


Meanwhile, Hard News seems to think that because there were no suicide bombings in Iraq before Saddam was booted it is a sign of failure. Seems to ignore the opportunity cost of murders, rapes, mass gassings and torture conducted by Hussein and Sons Ltd. He also seems to be setting himself up for big disappointment over Rove being done for exposing a non-clandestine agent. But to be fair, his article on vaccines yesterday was spot on. Pity his Public Address partner, Che Tibby, has no redeeming features, today's article is breathtaking in its own apparently unnoticed hypocrisy. I mean really, pot, kettle, black. Anyway, I'm swearing off that site for a while.

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