Deeply Confused Newsweek Story Compares Republicans to Timothy McVeigh

Wednesday, June 3, 2015
By Paul Martin

The weekly gets both the past and the present wrong.

Jesse Walker
Jun. 2, 2015

Here’s how Nina Burleigh decided to open a Newsweek piece pegged to a recent Republican gathering in Oklahoma City:

Republican presidential candidates gathered last month at the Oklahoma City Cox Conference Center, just a few blocks from the site of what was the Alfred R. Murrah Federal Building. Two decades ago, anti-government militia sympathizer Timothy McVeigh blew it up in what he called an act of war against the U.S. government. It was the worst crime of domestically bred terrorism in American history. McVeigh was executed in 2001, but since then, some of his militia ideals have gone mainstream and even been introduced as laws in many states, including Oklahoma.

Legislators in dozens of states have submitted proposals to nullify or block federal laws—a longtime goal of militias. These have included exempting states from federal gun laws and educational standards, as well as, of course, Obamacare. That doesn’t make these anti-federal statutes part of McVeigh’s madness, but Republican politicians now often echo conspiracy theories once relegated to troglodyte pamphlets. And several states have passed laws making gold a currency—a step toward returning to the gold standard—even though currency is a federal responsibility.

The article goes on in that vein, citing the Bundy standoff, the fears around the military’s upcoming Jade Helm 15 exercise, the movement against Agenda 21, and so on. I assume you all understand why this is a ludicrous way to frame the discussion—an approach roughly comparable to starting a story with “Environmental activists gathered today at Harvard, the same university attended by the Unabomber”—so we can pass quickly over that point. The question of whether McVeigh might have agreed with any of these ideas is entirely separate from the question of whether the ideas have any merit.

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