Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The McVeigh Tapes

Rachel Maddow has a fine documentary on Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bombing, and domestic terrorism. Part 1 is here, the rest are well worth your time.

3 comments:

TNC said...

Sorry Roland, gotta disagree with you on this one. I don't see anything that great about this documentary, at least not what I saw. I checked out the first part you posted but it starts as a standard NBC true crime/Dateline sort of stuff. There is also not much new information here and the computer graphics are pretty cheesy.

As far as the second part, we learn why and how he targeted the building, but nothing about his motivation, his ideology. And little about his co-conspirators. How were they convinced to participate? Two sentences on Terry Nichols, one of which is he "believed the federal government was against the average person." No shit. But why? What experiences led him and McVeigh to think and feel this way? What experiences did they have in common beyond being in the military? Is Maddow arguing their military experience led them to hate the federal government?

Part 3 we hear "Fortier was a rebel and shared McVeigh's anti-government views." And??? Again, nothing new and nothing about the content of those views.

I lost interest after that.

If you can point me to a specific section where these issues are examined I would be interested in checking it out.

Roland Dodds said...

I agree with all your points TNC. I still don’t get why they thought the computer generated images of McVeigh were interesting or some kind of breakthrough. An actor would have filled the role just as well.

There really needs to be a documentary about his ideology and motivations, like you mentioned. I feel that too often when discussing right wing extremists in the 90s, they talk about Waco and the way the government acted without providing the ideological foundation for why that bothered these types so much. It wasn’t simply that the Feds contributed to people dying, but that these radical groups could be confronted by the state at all. It makes too simple a narrative to say “Waco made him mad” but it is often repeated by media figures.

I still recommend the documentary however. For anyone familiar with McVeigh, it won’t shed much new light on his actions. But what it did remind me of is how “easy” these kinds of acts can be to pull off. We dodged a bullet in NYC last week thanks to the incompetence of the terrorist and his knowledge of explosives. McVeigh demonstrates that someone with basic explosives training can carry out a large attack on American citizens, and should remind folks that these kinds of people are operating in our society.

TNC said...

Absolutely. We often hear references to Waco, Ruby Ridge, and military experience (if any). Beyond that, not much.

But lots of people have military experience and have heard of these events. But the overwhelming majority of them have never even thought of resorting to terrorism. So the question is why McVeigh? What made him different? His poor relationship with his parents? Sure, that's part of his psychological makeup but not enough to explain or even understand his actions.

I read that he was really into "The Turner Diaries". Some explanation of the text, the ideology of the book's author (William Pierce), etc. would have added something to the doc. Pierce was a leader in the American Nazi Party. Was McVeigh a white supremacist? Ilya Somin thinks so:

http://volokh.com/2010/04/20/timothy-mcveigh-was-no-libertarian-conflating-two-types-of-anti-government-movements/

Your last point is well taken. In free societies like the U.S. these attacks are much easier to conduct than in unfree ones.

As far as the NYC attack, I am putting something together for my blog but have been rather busy with other things lately, esp. working on my diss.

I also plan on contributing another music post to your other blog soon. Maybe even by the end of the weekend.