On April, 19th 1995 a yellow Ryder rental truck pulled up in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. A lone man calmly walked away from the truck and down the street. Within minutes the truck, which contained a several thousand pound bomb made of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, exploded. The bomb created a 3.1 scale earthquake, killed over one hundred people, and injured over six-hundred others.
The lone man who walked away from the truck that morning was not an Islamic terrorist nor was he a foreign national. The perpetrator was Timothy McVeigh an American citizen, and decorated Gulf War Veteran.
With conservative commentators using words like “socialism” and “fascism” to describe the federal government, does the media have a role in promoting domestic extremism? McVeigh, for example, thought that the government was coming for people’s guns and felt like he was a prisoner in his own country. People like Glenn Beck have accused President Obama as being part of some conspiracy to usher in a totalitarian America.
Now, a Michigan militia group is being put on trial for amassing guns and bombs in what federal prosecutors allege was a plot to fight a war against the government and kill police officers. Is such a group influenced by the damaging rhetoric of today's political climate? More than likely, yes.
If we are really concerned about preventing the next terrorist attack, we cannot ignore the fact that the next attack may come from American extremists rather than any other variety. As future criminal justice professionals, we must broaden our focus to all groups, including Americans, when protecting homeland security.
The McVeigh Tapes: Confessions of an American Terrorist. MSNBC Films. 2010.
Michel, L., & Herbeck, D. (2001). American terrorist : Timothy McVeigh & the Oklahoma City bombing / Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck. New York : Regan Books, c2001.