- The Washington Times - Friday, April 23, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It has been 15 years since the horrific events of April 19, 1995. On that day, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols set off a devastating explosion that rocked Oklahoma City’s Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 and injuring more than 800. It was the worst domestic terror attack until that fateful day in September 2001.

Both McVeigh and Nichols were members of the Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord (CSA), organized in Elijah, Ark., in 1971 by polygamist James Ellison. The CSA was not simply one of the more quirky religious cults; its stated purpose was to start a war that ultimately would lead to the second coming of Christ. The members of the group believed they literally were God’s chosen people and, as such, could dominate all others.

Another CSA member was Richard Wayne Snell. On my birthday in 1984, I was informed by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that I had been targeted by the white supremacist. Snell, too, was a disciple of the CSA. A conference in 1983 had brought together Ellison, the group’s founder, and Snell. The two men discussed how they could bring down the Murrah Federal Building. It was not Snell’s destiny, however, to be the one to accomplish that feat. His plans were sidetracked by his desire to kill Jews - and blacks.

On Nov. 3, 1983, Snell gunned down the owner of a small pawn shop in Texarkana, Ark., thinking his victim was a Jew; he was not. The case confounded authorities for more than eight months, but Snell’s rage would prove to be his downfall. On June 30, 1984, Snell was stopped on a lonely western Arkansas highway by State Trooper Louis P. Bryant. As Bryant approached the vehicle, Snell opened fire with a modified Colt .45, fatally wounding the trooper.

A truck driver who saw the shooting followed Snell across the Oklahoma border and contacted the Broken Bow, Okla., police. Snell soon ran headlong into a roadblock set up by the police. In the ensuing gun battle, he was wounded and then captured.

Following his arrest, investigators combed through Snell’s vehicle. On the front seat, they found a single piece of paper on which was written my name, address and unlisted telephone number. A phone call from the ATF would let me know beyond a doubt that anti-Semitism was alive and flourishing.

Although Snell went to death row for the murders in Arkansas, the CSA continued to thrive and plan an attack on the Murrah Building. Snell, who was to have led the charge, instead was executed on the same day as the devastating attack in Oklahoma City. His last words were directed at Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker. Snell warned that the governor should “look over your shoulder; justice is coming.”

Whatever you wish to call it - bigotry, anti-Semitism, Jew-hatred - it is vile. It has fueled and fed the pogroms in Russia, the Holocaust in Europe, al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s movement in Iran, among others. Jew-hating, Protocols of Zion-loving Holocaust deniers must be taken seriously.

On April 16, former President Bill Clinton, in a bigoted response to the grass-roots protests against President Obama’s agenda, likened today’s climate and the various Tea Party groups that have arisen around the country to the unrest in the United States in 1995. Mr. Clinton said, “What we learned from Oklahoma City is not that we should gag each other or that we should reduce our passion for the positions we hold, but that the words we use really do matter, because there’s this vast echo chamber, and they go across space and they fall on the serious and the delirious alike. They fall on the connected and the unhinged alike.”

When the original colonists participated in the first Boston Tea Party, they were championed by Samuel Adams, statesman, political philosopher and a Founding Father of the United States of America. Adams stood with the colonists and argued that the Tea Party was not “the act of a lawless mob, but was instead a principled protest and the only remaining option the people had to defend their constitutional rights.”

Perhaps Mr. Clinton needs to be reminded that words do matter and that his words could very well incite attacks against the peaceful protesters who are part of the Tea Party movement. He should remember that bigotry is an equal-opportunity employer. The Jews learned that in Europe during World War II. The war on terror cannot be won unless America declares war on bigotry wherever and whenever it raises it ugly head.

Michael D. Evans is the founder of the Jerusalem Prayer Team and the Corrie ten Boom Holocaust Center in Haarlem, Holland.

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