On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The country was aghast at the deaths of 168 innocent federal workers, including a number of children at the building’s daycare center, all murdered in the blink of an eye.
Soon, McVeigh was arrested. It was undeniable that he was a far-right extremist. Anti-government groups had gained strength during the Clinton presidency and were enraged by federal law enforcement overreach at Waco and Ruby Ridge. The militia movement gained additional momentum following the 1994 federal assault weapon ban. Prior to the Oklahoma City bombing, vague talk of revolution had become popular on the far-Right.
Nonetheless, after Oklahoma City, Democrats and Republicans alike condemned the bombing and anyone whose rhetoric offered implicit support of it. Republicans distanced themselves from their far-Right fringe. Most of the militias dissolved.
Even for those on the far-Right, no one had the gall to deem the bombing a product of “Clinton’s America.”
This week, however, the media and the Biden campaign changed their tune.
After months of praising the “mostly peaceful” Antifa and Black Lives Matter protests, ignoring the violence, and dismissing suggestions that a number of cities had descended into anarchy, they finally realized most Americans are not on board with this craziness and that their silence about it wasn’t helping their case. In fact, the long hot summer of 2020 has led to a massive decline in support for the BLM movement and diminishing support for Joe Biden and the Democrats.
So, instead of owning up to their implicit support for this lawlessness—including offering bail funds for jailed rioters—they simply decided to blame Trump. The new line: this is all a feature of “Trump’s America.”
The current violence is as much Trump’s America as the Oklahoma City bombing was Clinton’s. It happened on their watches, but in both cases, it was perpetrated by extremist opponents of each president. That is to say neither Clinton nor Trump supported, encouraged, or blessed the actions of these terrorists in any way.
This year’s riots have almost exclusively occurred in Democrat-run urban centers. This is not a coincidence. These mayors have often been paralyzed by the violence done in the name of causes they support. Democratic mayors have also refused Trump’s offers of support, condemned his earlier deployment of federal law enforcement resources, and generally taken the position that anything Trump and the federal government might do to stop the violence is overreach.
Democrats Now Flirt With Violent Hate Groups
In the wake of the Oklahoma City Bombing, President Clinton said, “We hear so many loud and angry voices in America today whose sole goal seems to be to try to keep some people as paranoid as possible and the rest of us all torn up and upset with each other. . . . They spread hate. They leave the impression that, by their very words, that violence is acceptable.”
Today the hate is coming from the other direction. Antifa, BLM, and many of the more prominent members of the Democratic Party have indulged in extreme rhetoric for a long time.
Obama infamously waffled when the BLM riots began in Ferguson, Missouri, saying, “Those who are only interested in focusing on the violence and just want the problem to go away need to recognize that we do have work to do here, and we shouldn’t try to paper it over.”
This year, starting with the George Floyd episode, police increasingly have been vilified. At the high water mark of BLM prestige, A&E canceled Live PD. Police could no longer be honored as the brave defenders of their fellow citizens. They were instead deemed to be the chief threat to innocent black Americans, and they needed to be “defunded.”
Even the most obviously justified police shootings have brought about riots and unrest, and the entire nation is now condemned rather casually as a place of “white supremacy” and “systematic racism.”
At some of the “mostly peaceful” protests widely praised by Democrats at their convention, speakers openly called for killing cops and endorsed violent revolution. On the streets, both police and people minding their own business are targets of mob violence, including various dignitaries leaving Trump’s recent White House Speech.
Antifa and BLM are the Cat’s Paw for the Democrats
This could all be dismissed as merely fringe activity, but for the tacit and not-so-tacit support from Democratic leaders. Maxine Waters infamously encouraged harassment of Trump officials in 2018, saying, “And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them.”
The election has been framed with threats of more violence if Trump somehow wins. Joe Biden recently tweeted, “Does anyone believe there will be less violence in America if Donald Trump is reelected?”
Missing from their remarks, even now, is a full-bore condemnation of violence or its rhetorical antecedents. Forgetting Bill Clinton’s remarks following the Oklahoma City Bombing, none of the mainstream Democrats have expressed how the intemperate talk of “resistance,” “illegitimacy,” and Trump’s “racism” may have contributed to the violence in the streets.
It is pretty obvious now that the Democratic Party, the media, and corporate America collectively decided to amplify the George Floyd episode as part of a cynical strategy to get-out-the-vote and defeat Trump in the 2020 election. But the rhetoric has become so unhinged and the violence so persistent, it is now backfiring.
Like Sinn Fein’s relationship with the Provisional IRA, the use of a separate, violent faction to encourage compromise “or else” is a well-established, if cynical, political tactic. It is also very dangerous, as violence can become addictive and is hard to control.
Groups like Antifa and BLM can easily turn on their more moderate supporters, as left-wing Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has recently learned.
In the more unified America of the Clinton years, the Oklahoma City bombing was condemned by all sides. The Right, which had indulged in various paranoid and impolitic rhetoric in the first two years of the Clinton presidency, was embarrassed and became more circumspect going forward.
Instead of being torn apart, the country came together, united against the political extremism that resulted in the mass murder of our fellow citizens. But that moment of social solidarity required one side to condemn its own fringe, something that the Democrats today appear entirely unwilling and unable to do.