Bill Clinton attempted to connect the small and peaceful demonstrations of upper middle class Americans with the Oklahoma City bombings in a recent New York Times Editorial.

…we should never forget what drove the bombers …They took to the ultimate extreme an idea advocated in the months and years before the bombing by an increasingly vocal minority: the belief that the greatest threat to American freedom is our government, and that public servants do not protect our freedoms, but abuse them.

The horror of the Oklahoma City bombing remains in the memory of everyone in that state, yet that doesn’t mean that using an act of terrorism to silence one’s political opposition is acceptable, yet Bill Clinton did just that in the 1990’s, and is now trying to do so again, to label the mainly middle class teaparty movement as inspiring terrorism.

So what was behind McVeigh’s terrorist act? Clinton mentions it in passing, without detail:

On that April 19, the second anniversary of the assault of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, deeply alienated and disconnected Americans decided murder was a blow for liberty.

No, the bomb was not a blow for liberty, but an act of revenge against those who killed innocent women and children in Waco.

The twisted white supremacist movement with links to some militias were incensed by the murders, and these groups inspired and cooperated with McVeigh. But these groups, included the compound at Elohim city (with it’s ATF and FBI plants) were behind the bombing, not the Republican party, Newt Gingrich or Rush Limbaugh.

One doesn’t have to be an anti government nut case to wonder about the use of military tactics that were dangerous in this context of stored flammable liquids. A similar disaster had occurred at the “Move” siege in Philadelphia in 1985 , yet the Federal government ignored lessons learned from that episode (including the danger of non lethal weapons used against areas where diesel for generators are stored).

The propaganda machine goes both ways, with questions and paranoia against a powerful government on both the right and the left, but the way to fuel this paranoia is to ignore reasonable questions about a government’s actions.

That lesson is pointed out in a 2003 article on the ACLU website:

“Liberals remember Watergate — conservatives remember Waco and Ruby Ridge,” said Timothy Edgar, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. “All were the result of overzealous – and unchecked – federal power. Giving the FBI carte blanche to initiate highly invasive and super-secret intelligence investigations, without any indication of actual wrongdoing, invites a repetition of these past abuses.”

The article was pointing out the danger of government being given a carte blanche to pry into the lives of Americans to detect “terrorists”.

Under the current administration, the relaxed guidelines could likely be used to target, for instance, anti-war protesters. However, the new set of guidelines should also concern conservatives, the ACLU said, given that under a future left-leaning presidency, it could also be used to target lawful militia groups or anti-abortion activists.

It says a lot to those who know Oklahoma, where the death penalty is more popular for murder than in the more radical state of Texas,  that although McVeigh was given the death penalty, his co conspirator was given only life in prison by two different juries, apparently because the ordinary folks in Oklahoma still suspect there is more to that story than is being told.

For Clinton to play the “tea baggers as Timothy McVeigh” card, and the attempt of the Obama administration to play the “radical militia” card against middle class folks who object to the economic policies of the government is an ominous sign.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She has lived and practiced medicine in Oklahoma.

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