District of Corruption

Enemies of the State

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, which was, in turn, perpetrated to mark the second anniversary of the federal government's raid of David Koresh's Branch Davidian compound in 1993. You have, no doubt, heard mention of these two events recently, usually in hushed tones, as liberal commentators explain to you the twisted, pathological rationale behind the Tea Parties and opposition to Obamacare.

Lew Rockwell has posted two interesting pieces on the matter, the first a rambling though fascinating Vanity Fair article by Gore Vidal and an original one by Anthony Gregory on the meaning of the two events for the ideologies of the American Right and Left.

I doubt we know the full story of the Oklahoma City bombing, and the idea that McVeigh acted alone seems rather implausible... nevertheless, the event is significant mostly as a preview of 9/11 in terms of the expansion of federal power. Waco, in turn, much like Ruby Ridge, revealed the willingness of the government to use deadly force on its own citizens, even when the reins of power were in the hands of a hapless, indecisive, left-liberal technocrat, who would later claim she regretted her actions.   

This past weekend, I happened to catch a bit of Wolf Blitzer's interview with Bill Clinton, who, on cue, evoked the two dreaded anniversaries multiple times -- all the while claiming that he in no way was trying to link these events with the Tea Parties. No Siree. Clinton might as well have said, "You know, Wolf, we're also approaching the anniversaries of Hitler's birth and Captain Cook's discovery of Australia. Now, I'm not saying that the Tea Parties want to round up Jews and enslave aborigines, but let's just remember that pluralism is the lifeblood of our democracy..."

Clinton sounds the same themes today in a New York Times op-ed, in which he wags his finger at "the belief that the greatest threat to American freedom is our government, and that public servants do not protect our freedoms, but abuse them." Actually, I've found that it is the government -- and not Christian militias -- that make me go through body scanners at the airport and that has the power to spy on my emails and phone conversations, and perhaps see what books I might choose to buy or check out. But there is no freedom beyond "the law," says Bill, meaning "the state." (And just in case anyone gets any ideas, Clinton reminds us of the many times when the government cracked some skulls.) 

Most liberals lost interest in halting state power on the first day of Obama's "historic" presidency, and it's highly unlikely that, with the exception of people like Vidal, any of them would be wiling to actively defend the people who are currently on the government's enemies list. It would, put simply, offend their sensibilities. Crystal Gale Mangum and Rodney King were heroes, as their stories fit with the dominant narrative of black victimology. But no one who hopes to get invited to Arianna's cocktail parties would ever carry water for redneck fundamentalists like David Koresh or the Weavers, the home-schooling Idaho couple gunned down at Ruby Ridge. When Eugene Terre'Blanche was brutally murdered in his sleep not too long ago, no mainstream media outlet expressed much outrage at the nature of his death, nor took the time to investigate what the motivations of his attackers were. They merely repeated the claim of a "wage dispute." The tacit message was always, it's too bad he died, but that white supremacist had it coming.

There is, without question, a distinct asymmetry to the contemporary therapeutic state's crafting of bogeymen: there have certainly been "red scares" in the past, and "Islamic extremists" are on the loose, but the state's enemies du jour are caricatures of traditionalist Middle Americans. The latest targets of an undercover federal crack-down proved no exception. 

Left-wing problems can be solved by the state -- give this or that grievance monger a seat on this or that commission, expand the funding for this or that project, etc. etc. Unauthorized ethnic identity, and citizens locating authorities outside the welfare-state, however, are things the Bill Clintons of the world simply will not tolerate.