Feb 13, 2017

New film links McVeigh to far-right ahead of OKC bombing

Winston-Salem Journal
By Kelly P. Kissel The Associated Press
February 7, 2017

A new documentary tying various threads among far-right extremists and Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, serves as a history lesson and, indirectly, as a warning that something so horrible could happen again.

“Oklahoma City,” directed by Barak Goodman, airs at 9 2/7/2017 in PBS’ “American Experience” series. Producer Mark Samels developed it as a means to “excavate” the story behind the bombing, Goodman said.

“This was hatched a couple years ago,” Goodman said. “It was time to take a look at this worst case of domestic terrorism in American history ... and find the roots of the story.”

The two-hour documentary unpacks separatist and white-supremacy movements that dogged the country in the 1980s and early 1990s — detailing anti-government rhetoric that still echoes. McVeigh’s involvement grows from selling anti-government bumper stickers in Texas to packing a Ryder truck with racing fuel, fertilizer and blowing it up in Oklahoma.

His actions were symbolic, not inexplicable.

“I thought to myself, ‘Why Oklahoma City? It’s a quiet place. Nothing happens here. It’s not supposed to happen here,’” Jennifer Rodgers, an Oklahoma City police officer, said early in the film.

McVeigh considered targets in Little Rock, Ark., Dallas and Tulsa, Okla., before settling on Oklahoma City because federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents assigned there were involved in a siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. And he picked April 19 because it was the anniversary of the Waco siege’s fiery end.

The filmmakers concluded that McVeigh acted after hearing anti-government rhetoric for years.

“You cannot demonize a federal government and make these radical claims and put forth these radical conspiracy theories without there being some concrete, real-world effects sometimes,” Goodman said.

Well before Oklahoma City, members of the Aryan Nations and their sympathizers blamed diminished white influence for their socio-economic troubles. The Order, another white supremacist group, mimicked a group of patriots in the book, “The Turner Diaries,” that plots to overthrow the federal government. The book details using a truck bomb to blow up FBI headquarters in Washington.

McVeigh had been exposed to all of that by the time he wrote a letter to his local paper in 1992 asking whether a civil war was imminent and showed up at Waco in 1993 selling bumper stickers reading: “Fear the government that fears your gun” and “Ban guns: Make the street safe for a government takeover.


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