TRACK THE POISON BACK TO MCVEIGH
You'd think that after the hilarious and failed January 6, 2021 uprising, to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, even the Republican Party has come to its senses and far-right conspiracy theories are fading from prominence in the United States.
But then you also want to think that the bad influence of Fox News will recede as the network agrees to pay Dominion Voting Systems more than three-quarters of a billion dollars after multiple speakers and ranking executives admitted under oath that they intentionally broadcast jarring lies about the 2020 election that ” stolen”.
Nor did it happen. Despite some media outlets slipping further to the fringes and purging of “white substitute” conspiracy expert Tucker Carlson, Fox News remains hugely profitable and influential. Most Americans, it seems, only want to be lied to if it supports their incipient paranoia.
You can also imagine that a former president who made public the private addresses of other former presidents, enabled and encouraged gun maniacs to stalk his neighborhood with lethal intent, would find himself shunned and essentially disqualified from seeking public office by members. his own party, which preached law and order.
After all, what will happen to the other criminal defendants who broadcast blatant threats against prosecutors and their families?
However, with the exception of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's signal, who lacked the proverbial snowball opportunity, Donald Trump's GOP Teflon rival has been keeping quiet.
Instead, Trump appears to have a substantial lead for the GOP nomination. “NOW THE ‘SEAL' IS BROKEN…,” started one major outburst on his recent Truth Social account – a sharp allusion to the Book of Revelation (although Trump never seems to have read it). He eventually vowed revenge against the Democrats he evilly accused of destroying the country.
This is more like a professional wrestling spectacle than an American election campaign. Even Mini Mussolini who currently ranks second in opinion polls promised to rid the nation of heretics. He often uses the word “dead”.
So are most Republicans just going in circles and ignoring reason altogether? Unfortunately, many have, yes. And admit it or not, the patron saint of their movement is Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber.
I came to this opinion after reading Jeffrey Toobin's excellent new book, “Homegrown: Timothy McVeigh and the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism.” An accomplished reporter with legal expertise and a flair for telling stories with life, Toobin has written several excellent books on criminal trials – including the bestselling book on the OJ Simpson case.
Toobin originally covered the McVeigh trial for the murder of 168 people (including 19 children) by the truck bomb that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995, for The New Yorker. He describes having flashbacks to 2020 reading about the loon militia plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and try her for treason in a kangaroo court.
“I know these people,” he said to himself, realizing that the motives of the self-styled patriots were essentially identical to those of McVeigh a quarter century earlier. Indeed, much of McVeigh's deadly plot was orchestrated on the remote Michigan farm owned by the family of co-conspirator Terry Nichols.
In a way, McVeigh is a quintessential American loner, a dropout juco who failed his quest to become the Green Beret and left the Army without a profession or purpose. It was, Toobin wrote, “a crushing defeat … he had no plan B.”
Much of “Homegrown” reads like a Jack Kerouac novel about a deranged loner who drives aimlessly through the American countryside in search of someone to kill: from his hometown in upstate New York to Arkansas to the forests of northern Michigan to Arizona and the Flint Hills of Kansas. Basically, from one gun show to another.
And as he drives, he listens to Rush Limbaugh touting the political nose of the man he calls “Mr. Newt.” When Gingrich pressed Republicans to describe Democrats as “sick,” “pathetic,” “traitor,” “radical,” and “corrupt,” McVeigh heard him. When Limbaugh spoke of “a second violent American revolution,” he thought it sounded like a good idea.
But what really caught McVeigh's eye was a prophetic brewer called “The Turner Diaries,” a novel that describes a rebellion against a tyrannical government of blacks and Jews who took up the patriots' gun. McVeigh is all about guns. He builds his bomb based on the novel's detailed instructions.
McVeigh never expressed the slightest bit of regret; he died defiant, a hero unto himself. And thanks to the internet, Toobin makes it clear that race-obsessed gun crazies like him are no longer alone. And then, after Trump became president, Toobin wrote, “the pack of wolves had a new leader.”
Gene Lyons is a National Magazine Award winner and co-author of “The Hunting of the President.”
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