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CENTRAL VIEW for Monday, June 11, 2001

by William Hamilton, Ph.D.

"What is happening to America?"

In order for those who died in the Oklahoma City bombing to not have died in vain; and, for those who were wounded not to have suffered in vain; and, for the families of all the victims, we must learn something from all this pain and suffering so we might prevent another such tragedy.

Unfortunately, thousands of young men like Timothy McVeigh grow up in dysfunctional family settings where the parents scream at each other, where no moral compass is present and to salve their angst they drift off into a fantasy world in which they assume roles more to their liking.

According to McVeigh’s psychiatrist, Timothy McVeigh took refuge in comic books, and later, science fiction where he assumed the persona of Luke Skywalker or other mythic heroes and righters of wrongs.

Given the number of young people who come from dysfunctional families and given the seeming inability of our public schools to get them back on track, we must face up to the fact that more Timothy McVeighs are somewhere in our future. The Columbine and other school killings are more evidence of that.

But the FBI killings at Ruby Ridge do not justify what McVeigh did. Nor does the Janet Reno/FBI/BATF incineration of the men, women and children in the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco justify what McVeigh did.

Yet, according to the court-appointed psychiatrist who spent hours with McVeigh trying to determine if McVeigh was sane enough to stand trial, those actions by federal agents caused him to commit the Oklahoma City bombing.

McVeigh set himself upon a mission of retaliation and retribution. The FBI and BATF officials in the federal building were his targets. He claimed Luke Skywalker killed some innocent people in Skywalker’s efforts to defeat Darth Vader and the Evil Empire, so the non-FBI and non-BATF casualties were just “collateral damage.”

So, if we know more McVeighs are sure to come along, what can you and I do to prevent another Oklahoma City bombing? We can start by demanding that government at all levels stop abusing its powers and stop making “government service” the perfect oxymoron.

Increasingly, government bureaucrats do not want to deal with the public either face-to-face or even on the telephone. Try calling the typical government agency and your call goes into one of those answering service merry-go-rounds. If and when you do get to the correct extension, you find that the person is in a meeting or otherwise unavailable to talk with you.

We all try hard to make sure our friends and business associates have our correct postal address. But they err sometimes and a new hot-shot postmaster is sent to your small town where everyone knows everyone. He decrees that your address must be correct in every detail or your mail is returned or ash canned. Bills go unpaid. Interest charges that you normally would not have accrue. His underlings feel terrible when they must send back or dispose of your mail. They mutter under their breath. No wonder some of them go “postal.”

Or, public officials make major decisions in secret to let contracts to private firms and, only if caught in the act, agree to public hearings on matters they have long before decided and acted upon in secrecy.

These government acts of commission and omission feed a smoldering public anger. And, when government does something really outrageous like Ruby Ridge or Waco, we get a Timothy McVeigh.

The psychiatrist reports that tears rolled down his face as McVeigh watched the cremation of the Branch Davidians on TV. He turned to Terry Nichols and asked: “What is happening to America?”

McVeigh’s victims did not deserve their fate. But we sheep-like citizens who allow our government to abuse our fellow citizens must share some of the blame. Indeed, what is happening to America? As Pogo said: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

William Hamilton is a nationally syndicated columnist and a featured commentator for USA Today.

©2001. William Hamilton.

An entire novel about domestic terrorism is detailed at:

©1999-2023. American Press Syndicate.

Dr. Hamilton can be contacted at:
P.O. Box 2001
Granby, CO 80446


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