"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." – Voltaire
Until September 11th 2001 April 19th 1995 was the date associated with the most horrible act of terrorism perpetrated against United States. This attack was perpetrated by a man who at one point famously stated that: “Science is my religion”. This has been used as proof that Timothy McVeigh was an atheist, and that his atheistic lack of morals allowed him to plan and carry out the deadly attack. Unfortunately this idea is partially true.
McVeigh was certainly confused about his belief system. In addition to the obvious moral shortcomings evidenced by his Oklahoma City attack his statements underscore his confusion. He was raised strictly Roman Catholic and boasted maintaining “core beliefs”. McVeigh also was quoted espousing a very deist god. Since any of these three belief systems would have raised moral questions long before McVeigh’s bomb was detonated he must have used a patchwork morality which he could arrange to justify his actions.
McVeigh was obsessed with the Ruby Ridge and Waco incidents. He even camped out at Waco while the events now synonymous with that town were unfolding. Each of these prior incidents was steeped in cultist-religious absurdities. Randy Weaver was associated with the hate-steeped Aryan Nations and Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord “Christian” churches. David Koresh lead an apparently polygamist sub-cult of the Branch Dravidians. Both groups collected firearms to use against government intrusion, and either would appear to be fertile ground for McVeigh’s terrorist plot to grow to fruition in. McVeigh even timed his attack to coincide with the second anniversary of the Waco event to draw parallels to it. Either group could have provided philosophical motivation.
However, McVeigh’s crippled morality did not spring from either of the groups whose events motivated his attack. He had pieced together a fantasy conspiracy out of fragmentary theories concocted from semi-analyzed evidence. A cottage conspiracy industry has developed in the US, and Timothy McVeigh is its most alarming product.
In 1964, when President Kennedy was shot in Dallas, a simple splotch noticed in the corner of a few frames of film spawned the most famous of all conspiracy theories. In 1992 the Waco standoff yielded hundreds of thousands of frames of potential conspiracy generating video. Phantom gunfire, tanks with trap-doors, secret passages, and more increasingly bizarre evidence. Each second was analyzed, and re-analyzed, by true believers who knew they could find something if they looked hard enough.
Millions were spent in congressional investigations spurred by increasingly shrill calls for “truth”. Blame was found, and blame was probably immorally avoided. The great shadowy government conspiracy was not uncovered (it never is; is it?), but it was that conspiracy which Timothy McVeigh attacked in Oklahoma. The limp bodies of children whose lives he snuffed out on that April day were “collateral Damage”.
McVeigh knew that the US government killed people with impunity. He knew this partially because he had done killing for the US government while on active duty in the first gulf war. He referenced the killing he had done when discussing how he became a terrorist. He also spoke about his wartime experiences when he mentioned his desire to commit suicide. He described the Murrah building attack as “State-assisted suicide” at one point.
Despite his sometimes rambling disjointed motivations McVeigh remained resolute on the topic of conspiracy. His attack had the higher purpose of bringing down the shadow-conspiracy that was treasonously defiling the constitution.
His conviction put a six-and-a-half-year damper on the main-stream acceptance of conspiracy theories.
After 9/11 conspiracy theories spewed forth like the contents of a pop-bottle that had been shook for years. The WTC towers may not have been hit by planes. They may have been hit by planes with secret “pods” attached. The planes may have been special cargo-plane missiles, or the missiles may have been fired at the same time the planes hit so their effect could be covered up. Then there is the issue of “secondary explosives”.
The nonsense has found a ready republic. One poll suggested that over a third of the US population believes that the WTC towers came down as a result of a government conspiracy. That is way over 100 million believers.
If each person who believed in the government conspiracy 911 theories donated a thousand dollars to the presidential campaign of one candidate they could probably get them elected. Once they controlled the presidency would they still so adamantly believe in government conspiracies?