The Oklahoma City bombing happened 15 years ago. April 19, 1995 was an exceptionally deadly day of domestic terrorism, but it was unusual only in degree, not in kind.
The reality is that America has always had a dark, kinky seam of violent insurrection running through its soul like a vein of the blackest coal. Our country was founded after an armed revolution — a revolution led by brilliant statesmen, to be sure, but a bloody armed revolution nevertheless — and political violence unfortunately has been a part of our history ever since.
Our nation’s history is dotted with periodic domestic uprisings and attempts to overthrow the government, from the Whiskey Rebellion that bedeviled George Washington, to John Brown’s raid at Harper’s Ferry, to the Civil War, to the periodic assassinations and attempted assassinations of political leaders, and more recently to the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers, the Symbionese Liberation Army, the Unabomber, and other “revolutionary” movements and persons. Timothy McVeigh walked in the footsteps of John Brown, Lee Harvey Oswald, Charles Manson, Ted Kaczynski, and countless other twisted, violent, and demented souls who came before him.
Some people contend that there is no realistic threat of domestic terrorism and argue that the focus should not be on American citizens but on terror threats from abroad. Our nation’s history, however, suggests that paying some attention to fringe groups on the home front is well worth our while. Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it, and I would prefer not to see another Oklahoma City tragedy in my lifetime.