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Never Forget: The Murrah Federal Building Bombing of 1995

murrah bombing

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Just a short note for today. Amid all the political drama associated with the Republican and Democratic primaries this week, one thing that was overlooked by most people was the anniversary of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols in 1995.

I don’t think that I could ever forget the day. I was working as a hospital ER department chaplain where I worked a 3:00-11:00 shift. Having just got up I turned on the news and was drinking my coffee when the news about the bombing flashed across the screen. I was stunned, especially when I found out that the bombers were Americans, and both former soldiers.

168 people, including babies and young children in the day care center were killed, hundreds of others wounded. McVeigh and Nichols were part of the anti-government so-called “militia” movement that still exists in parts of this country, of which the Bundy family, which occupied a Federal Wildlife Sanctuary earlier this year in order to bring about a revolt against the government is part.

Sadly, there are such people who would do the same today if given the chance, and as this attack shows, they are not all Islamic terrorists, but some are plain old Americans, people you might see in the grocery store or the gas station.

So let’s never forget.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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A Raging Torrent of Friday Musings 

  
Friends of Padre Steve’s World

Just a few thoughts to close out this week. As I said yesterday much of my time lately has been consumed with completing a major revision to my Gettysburg text. I completed that revision yesterday, and while there is still a good amount of editing, a couple of less massive chapter revisions, and a final chapter to write, I am starting to see that the end is in sight, but with the end always comes a new beginning. As Hedley Lamarr, Harvey Korman’s character in Mel Brooks’ classic movie Blazing Saddles remarked, “My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.”  So even as I work on this my mind is thinking about what to write next. 

And speaking of rivulets of thought…

Last week the Y’all Qaida takeover of the wildlife refuge in Oregon by the Bundy Bunch came to an end, not with a bang but with a paranoid delusional wimper. When I heard that the FBI was closing in on the final four self-proclaimed freedom fighters I decided to listen to the live that they maintained with their supporters on the outside. I spent about two hours listening and for a while I honestly thought that at least one of them was going to try to become a martyr for their anti-government crusade. 

Truthfully, as I listened I realized just how paranoid, delusional, and scary these people are. They voiced a convoluted worldview that blended a mixture of extreme-fundamentalist Christian and Mormon thought, conspiracy theories, including UFOs, white-supremacist ideology, and one of the most ill-informed understandings of the Constitution that I have ever heard; as well as myth masquerading as history where they are a new incarnation of the Minutemen who won the American Revolution. Sadly, I have either heard or listened to many of the same thoughts being broadcast on talk-radio and all over the Internet. Truthfully they reminded me of an American versions of the violent Muslim jihadists who do the same thing with their history and religion. 

I was glad that the standoff ended with no more death, and that the whole Bundy Bunch, including the family patriarch Cliven Bundy will likely be going to prison for a very long time. I’m sure that some equally delusional reader will send me a nasty comment or two for saying what I just said, but it takes a hell of a lot of paranoid ideology and misplaced faith to believe the things that these people believe, even if you think the government has too much power. 

Last Saturday as I was pounding away on my keyboard working on the Gettysburg text I got the news that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died alone in a hotel room in a posh hunting lodge in west Texas. Truthfully I take no delight in the death of anyone, well almost anyone; those who use terrorism to attack my country and our allies killing innocent civilians are another matter. But cannot rejoice in the deaths people that I disagree with on matters of politics, religion, or ideology. Justice Scalia was someone that I seldom agreed with in his interpretation of the Constitution, and how harmful his judicial opinions on civil rights, voting rights, the environment, women’s health, and the rights of people in the LGBTQ community were to people who have been long discrimated against. Honestly, I can understand why many people who have been harmed by his decisions rejoiced in his death. I cannot do that but I certainly can understand.

As far as his replacement, I think that the President has a constitutional duty to nominate a fully qualified individual toothed court, and that the Senate has the duty to provide a hearing for the nominee. I really believe that the vacancy should be filled, long before the next President takes office. I say that regardless of who the sitting President is, and regardless of their political ideology. A President’s duty under the Constitution does not end a year before his term expires wither they are a Republican, or a Democrat. Likewise there is no precedent in American history for the Supreme Court to have a vacancy lasting over a year, and there is nothing to say that another justice could die in office as most of them are not spring chickens, and then what? 

Well, that is enough for the day. Enjoy your Friday. 

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Will Injustice Triumph?

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Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Just a short thought today and it comes as a bunch of avowed, anti-government racists posing as militia “freedom fighters” are occupying a Federal office in Oregon allegedly to defend two men already convicted of crimes for which they will be going back to prison. Meanwhile there is an epidemic of African Americans, often unarmed, and committing no crime, being gunned down with no questions asked by law enforcement officials or civilians who get away with murder. One can bet if those who took over the administrative office in Oregon were black, or Muslim there would be little patience and the act would be met by force. Interestingly enough the two men plan on going back peaceably to prison and do not condone the actions of the Bundy Bunch, but I digress….

Charles D. Morgan Jr. Chief Executive Officer Acxiom Corporation

Charles Morgan Jr.

My thought comes from the late Charles Morgan Jr. Morgan was a young lawyer and rising star in Birmingham Alabama. Morgan was a well off young Southern gentleman, a lawyer, but he was also a man of conscience. He was a defender of the civil liberties of many people during his life, and most of his actions were incredibly unpopular when he made his stand.

The turning point for Morgan was the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham Alabama some 52 years ago which killed four little girls going to Sunday school, and injured many others. It was an act of terrorism, though many even today will not call it that, but too often we hide the truth.

But Morgan was one of the few people to speak the truth about responsibly and liberty following the said the bombing to the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham Alabama some 52 years ago which killed four little girls going to Sunday School.

In an age where people, including his peers, colleagues, friends, and neighbors washed their hands of the responsibility, Morgan spoke the truth in clear and uncompromising language:

“And who is really guilty? Each of us. Each citizen who has not consciously attempted to bring about peaceful compliance with the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, every citizen who has ever said “they ought to kill that nigger,” every citizen who votes for the candidate with the bloody flag, every citizen and every school board member and schoolteacher and principal and businessman and judge and lawyer who has corrupted the minds of our youth; every person in this community who has in any way contributed during the past several years to the popularity of hatred, is at least as guilty, or more so, than the demented fool who threw that bomb.”

Morgan made a comment that really stuck in my brain because it is so true. He said,

“It is not by great acts but by small failures that freedom dies. . . . Justice and liberty die quietly, because men first learn to ignore injustice and then no longer recognize it.”

The truth is that it those small failures; first to turn our backs on justice and to ignore it, and then finally, to fail to even recognize it when justice is being trampled. That is how freedom dies. Sadly, those who most often trample freedoms, usually in the name of God or religion are the last to recognize their complicity in that loss of freedom. Judge Learned Hand spoke these words; “If we are to keep our democracy, there must be one commandment: Thou shalt not ration justice.”

Sadly, there are too many who will do just that, all to often in the name of their God, or their religion. If we ration justice so that only a few; the rich, and the well off are able to afford it, then we will succeed in standing idly by as injustice becomes the norm. If we do that, we will be as guilty as those who set the stage for, and then whitewashed the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, and the deaths of those four precious little girls.

MCNAIR ROBERTSON COLLINS WESLEY

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Insurrection in Oregon

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Ammon Bundy (Photo the Oregonian) 

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

It is seldom now that I get this spun up, but I have had it with violent conspiracy theorists using the cover of patriotism to mount an insurrection. Let’s be honest and call what is happening in Oregon what it is. It is armed insurrection and terrorism being perpetrated by extreme right wing, pseudo-Christian, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis. The list of extreme supporters has exploded on the Internet today, and frankly if you actually bother to read something about them even their own materials, they are a violent and dangerous bunch.

Led by Cliven Bundy’s sons Ammon, and Ryan Bundy, and former Army sergeant Ryan Payne who threatened to kill Federal agents during the standoff at the Bundy Ranch in 2014, these people are a threat, not just to society in general, but to the causes that they purport to support. Payne fits the profile of a sociopath and is a bona-fide conspiracy theorist.

The Missoula News profiled Payne and the Bundys in a very detailed article in June of 2014. They noted of Payne:

Payne came to believe the latter, that the government uses regulations to deliberately undermine the average American, “that they are purposely destroying industry, they are purposely taking this land from people.” The more he looked, the more he saw a deliberate and nefarious plan being orchestrated by a small number of people wielding enormous power. He saw a pervasive conspiracy to control all aspects of the media, the financial system, the entertainment industry, the military and the government.

More specifically, he came to believe that slavery never really existed in the United States and that African Americans in the antebellum South “didn’t view themselves as slaves.” He came to believe in “an effort by some Jews to control the world.” He came to believe the founders of the United States intended for the states to act as sovereign countries. He came to believe taxes are a form of “legal plunder.” He came to believe names are spelled in all-caps on driver’s licenses because U.S. citizens are actually “corporate entities.” He came to believe U.S. courts are actually foreign admiralty courts. He came to believe that “in most states you have the lawful authority to kill a police officer that is unlawfully trying to arrest you.” He came to believe when a newborn child’s footprint is made on a birth certificate, that child is effectively entering a life of servitude to the U.S. government, which borrows money from China based on that child’s estimated lifetime earning potential. (The article can be viewed in its entirety here http://missoulanews.bigskypress.com/missoula/freedom-fighter/Content?oid=2054145 )

The Bundy’s and Payne came uninvited to Burns Oregon, and trampled on the desires of the people in that town who were conducting peaceful protests the day that they went out and seized by force the administrative building of the U.S. Forrest Service in one of the oldest national wildlife preserves in the nation.

Map locates Burns, Oregon, where protestors occupied a national wildlife refuge building; 1c x 2 1/2 inches; 46.5 mm x 63 mm;

Since the takeover, neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, as well as other anti-government and anti-liberty groups are taking up their cause. The leader of anti-Muslim protests that have targets Mosques in many cities, Jon Ritzheimer, has called on his followers to take up arms and fight alongside the Bundy clan, Payne and their confederates.

Ritzheimer, a former Marine, whose anti-Muslim acts have given him plenty of headlines, has been spoiling for a fight for a long time. He wrote, “I am 100 percent willing to lay my life down to defend against tyranny in this country… We need real men here… Americans who have the intestinal fortitude to come here and take a stand and say enough is enough…. To my family, just know that I stood for something. Don’t let it be in vain. I love you.”

The leader of this rag tag bunch of pseudo-patriots, Ammon Bundy posted this on his Facebook page:

“We have basically taken over the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. And this will become a base place for patriots from all over the country to come and be housed here and to live here. And we’re planning on staying here for several years.” Bundy called his band the “the point of the spear,” and called other like-minded extremist thugs to “bring your arms.”

Of course Bundy’s brother Ryan, in a statement to the Oregonian clothed the militant’s aims as being constitutional. “The best possible outcome is that the ranchers that have been kicked out of the area… will come back and reclaim their land, and the wildlife refuge will be shut down forever and the federal government will relinquish such control.”

But that is a lie, none of the ranchers have been kicked out, in fact none ever owned any part of the land. The land federal lands that the Bundys and their compatriots argue should be “returned” to the local, overwhelmingly white population were once part of a reservation established by President Ulysses S. Grant for the Northern Paiute, an American Indian tribe. That tribe now is located on a smaller reservation north of Burns.

But, since 1908 the Malheur Wildlife Refuge has been Federal government property when President Theodore Roosevelt set aside unclaimed government lands encompassed by Malheur, Mud and Harney Lakes as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds. He did this because of the encroachment of feather merchants who were sending hunters into the area and wiping out the wild bird populations. The newly established Lake Malheur Reservation was the 19th of 51 wildlife refuges created by Roosevelt during his tenure as president. At the time, Malheur was the third refuge in Oregon and one of only six refuges west of the Mississippi.

The land never was and never has been the property of any ranchers. The arguments of the Bundy’s and their confederates have nothing to do with truth; they are a smokescreen to further a goal of attempting to destroy any semblance of government control in such areas and give it to people who have no claim, by right or ownership.

The mainstream corporate media is not challenging the lie of the Bundy’s and their supporters. None of the major networks has yet to call this exactly what it is, insurrection, sedition, and terrorism. Instead it is called a protest, or occupation. But you can be sure had the Bundy clan been a Muslim group, or other American minority group, including Native Americans, they would be calling them criminals, trespassers, and dare I say, terrorists. It is a double standard, if one is white, and claims to be a patriot; they go unchallenged by the mainstream media. You would think that they were Girl Scouts protesting because they could not sell cookies.

There are laws, long standing ones at that that deal with this kind of thuggery. The big one is the Insurrection Act of 1807 under which:

“The President, by using the militia or the armed forces, or both, or by any other means, shall take such measures as he considers necessary to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy, if it— so hinders the execution of the laws of that State, and of the United States within the State, that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law, and the constituted authorities of that State are unable, fail, or refuse to protect that right, privilege, or immunity, or to give that protection; or opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws.”

It is my opinion since this is land and property under Federal jurisdiction in the State of Oregon that the President should activate the Oregon National Guard (the actual legal militia) to work with other Federal law enforcement agencies to end this insurrection. I personally think that surrounding them with real military forces and cutting off power, fuel, food, and water to the Bundy Clan will end this. It should not have to come to violence, unless a sociopath conspiracy theorist like Ryan Payne decides to open fire on men and women who wear the uniform that he once wore.

These people are deranged and dangerous. Ryan Bundy said, they are “willing to kill and be killed if necessary.” These men are not conservatives or even libertarians, and they are certainly not patriots. They are extremist revolutionaries who are delusional and believe the most unbelievable conspiracy theories.

This has to be ended, hopefully peacefully, and these people sent home and their leaders to prison in disgrace. However, the inflammatory statements of the Bundy’s, Payne, and Ritzenheimer are setting the stage for potential violence. The only thing that I can think is that want this to foment a wider revolt of armed militia groups against the government and that they may even be willing to become martyrs, like the Islamic Jihadists of Al Qaeda and DAESH have been doing for some time now. Honestly I see little difference between any of these people.

Like I said, I seldom get really spun up by something, but what is happening in Oregon is dangerous and could get a lot of people killed. If people believe that Bureau of Land Management policies need to be changed, they should use the legislative process or make court challenges. There is no place for armed bands of people attempting force their will on the rest of the population when they are the only ones who will benefit from such an action.

I mentioned yesterday that there would be a crisis every day of the year, well, welcome to the first of many, and I haven’t even mentioned the twin crises brewing between Saudi Arabia and Iran, or India and Pakistan. But that can be dealt with another time.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Schadenfreude: Who Doesn’t Love the Exposure of Unrepentant Racists?

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Note to readers: It has been a while since I waded into the morass that is American politics of 2014 but I need to get my two cents in for what it is worth. My long time readers know my background, my newer readers may not. If you are a new reader take a look on my civil rights section to see what I believe about racist attitudes and actions. 

I am amazed. Freeloading rancher and welfare prince Cliven Bundy flat out demonstrated that he is an unrepentant racist who would have just loved the Ante-Bellum days before the Civil War when “good blacks” were happy as clams to be slaves. Now Bundy who managed to call together every form of anti-government, anti-Federal Government and just plain wacko racist militia type to his side in his fight to avoid paying over a million dollars in back taxes shows his real hand.

Not that he hadn’t before. Heck, even Glenn Beck was a voice of sanity compared to Sean Hannity in the build up to this fiasco, but Bundy’s own words showed that he is for all practical purposes an unrepentant racist, secessionist freeloader who only cares about himself. The 68 year old “rancher” who for use of lands that he does not own and is making money on made incredibly stupid comments that not only showed his racism, but also his historical ignorance.

Bundy’s comments were so full of irony. Bundy has been making money by grazing his cattle for free on land that he does not own and not paid taxes and fees initially approved by the Reagan administration. So in one of his daily “news conferences” he went on the attack to condemn poor blacks on various forms of Federal assistance. It was the Pot calling the Kettle “Black,” or maybe better calling the Kettle “Negro.”

It was a wondrous thing to behold as all sorts of right wing politicians, pundits and preachers had to back track from their support of Bundy. Frankly I loved it. To me Bundy is no hero, no patriot or anything of the sort. He is a wealthy man who has lied his way to fame in order to embarrass that “Negro” in the White House.

Lies lies and lies….Bundy claimed that his family has been grazing his cattle on the land since before the Federal Government owned it, actually since the late 1800s. Funny thing is that according to court and real estate records Bundy’s family didn’t even purchase the land where there ranch is until 1948. Those nasty legal documents always get in the way of lies… but I digress…

You see Bundy is no hero, he is no patriot. In fact he is little different from Edmund Ruffin, the secessionist leader who fired the first shot at Fort Sumter back in 1861 or Alexander Stephens the Vice President of the Confederate States of America who said in his “Cornerstone Speech” of 1861:

“Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition….”

Based on what Bundy has said I have no doubt that he would wholeheartedly agree with Stephens. The people supporting Bundy include “true believers” like the heavily armed militiamen protecting him who long for bloodshed in order to create martyrs for their cause and their media allies. The militia types are quite interesting because many are either blatantly racist or affiliated in some way with White Separatist, Neo Nazi or Neo Confederate groups all itching for a bloody battle with the Federal Government that it is scary to comprehend.

Likewise there are others who have been deceived by the constant fear mongering of men like Sean Hannity into thinking the Federal Government they have a say in electing is their enemy who fell for Bundy’s outrageous lies hook line and sinker. Thus when men like Bundy reveal in excruciating and painful detail just who they really are I like it.

Donald-Sterling

Then there is the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers Basketball team who makes big money off of the efforts of some really outstanding African-American basketball players. The owner, Donald Sterling told his girlfriend that he doesn’t want her hanging out with blacks or having her picture taken with them, including men like Magic Johnson. I don’t have to mention but will that Sterling had to pay a lot of money to settle previous discrimination complaints and lawsuits, all of which had substantial racial overtones.

I like it because there is a cottage industry of right wing myth makers who like to say that there is no such thing as racism, that it it is a thing of the past or even that it is a product of liberals, liberalism or even the Civil Rights movement. When guys like Bundy or Sterling betray their lies it gives me a certain sense of schadenfreude. When I see college dropout Sean Hannity have to run for cover and condemn men like Bundy that he has helped to build up it really makes me happy.

The fact is that many Americans love the myth that racism no longer exists and that what is left is simply a fabrication of the “liberal media.” If that was true why would there need to be such concerted efforts to roll back civil rights and voting rights to disenfranchise African Americans, Hispanics and poor whites? Why would there be such a concerted media campaign to demonize minorities, women, the poor and yes even Moslems and gays?

If there wasn’t a big streak of racism, sexism, and other prejudice and discrimination still why would the pundits, politicians and preachers be working to hard to disprove it? Why would a political-media and even religious cottage industry be working overtime with lobbyists who support the most wealth people in the country in their quest to disenfranchise the bulk of Americans, even those who are their unwitting foot soldiers?

The fact is and I hate to admit it, but many attitudes haven’t changed that much since the days of Edmund Ruffin and Alexander Stephens, they have just become more suave and savvy. But every once in a while idiots like Bundy and Sterling show up and remind us that this is still all too real and that my friends as distasteful as it is, is a good thing. We like our racism and other prejudices hidden and unspoken so they don’t embarrass us.

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Baseball hero Jackie Robinson was a Republican. But in 1964 he found that the party of Lincoln was no more. After the 1964 Republican Convention where he supported Nelson Rockefeller he wrote:

“I wasn’t altogether caught of guard by the victory of the reactionary forces in the Republican party, but I was appalled by the tactics they used to stifle their liberal opposition.  I was a special delegate to the convention through an arrangement made by the Rockefeller office. That convention was one of the most unforgettable and frightening experiences of my life. The hatred I saw was unique to me because it was hatred directed against a white man.  It embodied a revulsion for all he stood for, including his enlightened attitude toward black people.

A new breed of Republicans had taken over the GOP.  As I watched this steamroller operation in San Francisco, I had a better understanding of how it must have felt to be a Jew in Hitler’s Germany….”

Robinson was right even though most people didn’t realize it at the time. The Republican Party of today is not the party of Lincoln, it is the party of Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens. As distasteful as the Bundy affair has been and will unfortunately continue to be, it does allow us as individuals and a society to look in the mirror and reevaluate who we are as Americans.

Personally I would rather stand with Jackie Robinson than men like Bundy, Sterling or Hannity.

Anyway, that’s all for tonight. Another Gettysburg article tomorrow unless I get derailed.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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