When the media talks about a terrorist, they are supposed to say that he is a brainwashed coward. Yup. According to the talking heads on CNN and Fox, every terrorist is the same: cowardly and crazy.
I don’t know why it is against the rules of society to be honest about terrorism.
The truth is that some terrorists are not cowards. They put themselves at risk to be arrested, killed, and/or damned to further a cause that they sincerely believe in.
The truth is that some terrorists have a well-thought out system of beliefs that they share with a lot of people. It’s just that most people who share those beliefs aren’t willing to kill.
“Oklahoma City” is a thought-provoking documentary about an American terrorist and gun lover – Timothy McVeigh – who murdered a bunch of people for reasons that are not crazy.
Director Barak Goodman does an amazing job of showing us the four things that motivated the Oklahoma City bomber.
1. Operation Desert Shield
What better place for a young gun lover than the US Army? Timothy McVeigh was a proud, happy soldier until he was sent to Middle East.
McVeigh thought that killing enemy soldiers would be thrilling. Instead – he recounts from prison years later – he felt like the Arab men he was murdering were just like him. And it made him sick. McVeigh began to realize that Uncle Sam is a bully.
At least the government wasn’t bullying Americans back home…
2. Ruby Ridge
In the 80s, Randy Weaver decided to move his family as far away from society as he could. He was living on the top of a mountain in northern Idaho with no electricity or plumbing. It is hard to be less of a menace to society than Mr. Weaver. The Feds had a different idea.
When Randy Weaver missed a court date in 1992 for weapons charges, the ATF and the FBI moved in. Before the standoff was over, US Marshals had killed Weaver’s wife, his 14 year old son, and his dog.
Christian minister/cult leader David Koresh and his followers were living apart from society, in an isolated compound outside of Waco, Texas. Their crime was not bothering or hurting any outsiders; it was buying weapons illegally.
Koresh’s followers fought off an ATF raid and killed four federal agents. The government responded by busting in with tanks and tear gas. On April 19, 1993, Koresh’s compound caught fire. 76 people were killed.
4. The Brady Bill
Looking back, The Brady Bill was little more than a rare, minor legislative loss by the NRA.
To already angry Timothy McVeigh, it was the final straw. First, the government had forced him to murder Arabs for no reason. Then, Uncle Sam had killed a bunch of gun owners who were minding their own business. Now, it seemed , US Marshals were probably going to bust down HIS door and take his guns.
On April 19, 1995 (the anniversary of Waco), Timothy McVeigh detonated a homemade bomb on the bottom floor of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people.
Timothy McVeigh was proud and unapologetic. He was executed by lethal injection in 2001.
The Oklahoma City bomber’s intentions were as clear as his actions were monstrous. McVeigh was inspired by….White Supremacy!
Wait! What? In the final act, director Barak Goodman throws us an absurd, politically-motivated curve ball. His conclusion is that Timothy McVeigh was a natural culmination of the White Power movement. Never mind that McVeigh never attended a White Power meeting and, based on prison interviews, wasn’t concerned about race at all.
Fortunately for us and unfortunately for Mr. Goodman, he accidentally told the truth for most of his film. The truth is that Timothy McVeigh was furious about Federal overreach and Washington’s willingness to kill whomever it pleases – here and abroad.
I don’t know why the truth about terrorism is so hard to stomach. The truth is that some terrorists are rational people with reasonable anger over legitimate issues. The only difference is: they think it is right to kill for their beliefs while we know it is evil.