OK City 16 Years Later: Extremism Didn't Die with Timothy McVeigh

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 - 10:35 AM

Today marks the sixteenth anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing in which 168 U.S. citizens, including nineteen children, lost their lives.

Timothy McVeigh, a militia movement member, the mastermind of the plot, was seeking revenge against the federal government for the Justice Department’s handling of the Waco siege, which had ended in the deaths of 76 people, exactly two years earlier. He hoped to inspire a revolt against what he considered to be a tyrannical federal government. McVeigh was executed in 2001, but anti-government fanaticism did not die with him.

This dangerous brand of extremism continues. It is undeniable to those who have the courage to look at the facts.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks extremist groups across America, has hard data to show that rising unemployment, anti-immigrant sentiment, and the fact that we have our first African-American president are inspiring a new generation of angry young men - and no small number of women - to extremism and hate.

There are 1,002 hate groups operating across the country, including neo-Nazis, Klansmen, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, black separatists, border vigilantes and others.

Since 2008, the number of hate groups has increased by 54 percent.

The militia movement, of which McVeigh was a part, receded from the headlines post-9/11, but it is alive and well. The SPLC has identified 824 anti-government “Patriot” groups that were active in 2010. Of these groups, 330 were militias. These groups are counted separately from hate groups because they do not necessarily advocate or engage in violence or other criminal activities, nor are they necessarily racist. But Patriot groups do define themselves as opposed to the “New World Order,” engage in groundless conspiracy theorizing, and/or advocate extreme anti-government principles. That, even without the rest, is dangerous to our democracy.

The growth in extremism, in all forms, has been exacerbated by mainstream politicians, pundits and media figures who use their platforms to legitimize false propaganda about immigrants and other minorities to spread the kind of paranoid conspiracy theories on which these groups thrive. (Yes, Lou Dobbs, I’m talking to you.)

I have had the argument, time and again, with those who would suggest that the election of Barack Obama closed the book on a long history of hate in America. But the increase in crime motivated by extremism and hate that has occurred since his election makes clear that a final victory over prejudice and racial hostility remains elusive.

It is time for right-thinking Americans to redouble our efforts to combat extremism in America. The problem of hate crime and extremist activity continues to be a significant national concern that demands priority attention. This anniversary only highlights the need for every sector of our society to eradicate this problem.

Jami Floyd is an attorney, broadcast journalist and legal analyst for cable and network news, and is a frequent contributor to WNYC Radio. She is former advisor in the Clinton administration and served as a surrogate for the Obama campaign on legal and domestic policy issues. You can follow her on twitter.


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Comments [5]


I agree that the SPLC sees hate groups everywhere sort of like the FBI sees terrorists behind every tree. They lost credibility with me when they put a leftist organization that I am familiar with on their list... eventually any group that isn't linked to Democrats or Republicans will be a "hate group".

Apr. 21 2011 04:12 AM
HardnoseMP from Kansas

Sorry,the evidence shows that Nichols was the mastermind behind the OKC bombing without a doubt and a member of the Michigan militia, Mcveigh was the delivery boy and changed the location for the attack and had John doe 2 along to make sure it went off.

Apr. 20 2011 08:41 AM
The Ump from New York City

Everyone quotes the same number of 168 lives lost. It's gruesome, but there is an extra leg left over in the carnage, which means that 169 people died. No idea if the 169th was an American citizen - as if that would make a difference - as the DNA on the leg had degraded and the person is still unidentified.

Apr. 19 2011 02:54 PM
gene debs from da berg

Im going to go out on a limb here and guess you are a klansman. If you really think the feds arent tracking your every move youre an idiot. Ill bet you fly the stars and bars which is like waving your mamas dirty underware in public.

Apr. 19 2011 02:04 PM
Richard Keefe from New Market

The SPLC has no "hard data" proving anything.

1. There is no legal definition for “hate group,” which is why even the FBI does not track “hate groups.”

2. The SPLC uses the deliberately meaningless term “hate groups” in its fund-raising propaganda precisely because it allows them to denigrate their perceived opponents without accusing them of any actual crimes.

3. The SPLC’s “Hate Map” is a fund-raising tool, nothing more. It provides no information whatsoever on the 1,002 alleged groups, in fact, the SPLC didn’t even bother to make up locations for 262 of the groups; that’s 26% of the total.

Many of the alleged “groups” are listed twice in the same location.

4. Since the SPLC is the sole arbiter of the meaningless “hate group” label, AND because SPLC fund-raising is directly tied to creating the illusion of an ever-increasing threat, it is in their direct financial interest to raise the numbers each year.

Since 2003, the SPLC has taken in more than a third of a BILLION dollars in tax-free cash, and yet the number of “hate groups” always goes up.

5. The most ironic (read: "hypocritical") thing about the Southern Poverty Law Center is that NOT ONE of its top ten, highest paid executives is a minority.

In fact, according to the SPLC's hometown newspaper, the Montgomery Advertiser, despite being located LITERALLY in the back yard of Dr. Martin Luther King's home church, the SPLC has NEVER hired a person of color to a highly paid position of power in its entire 40 year history.

Some "experts"

Apr. 19 2011 01:22 PM

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