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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Let there be peace on earth - and let it begin with me

It didn’t change on 9/11. It changed ten years ago today (click here ).

At approximately 9:00 am, Timothy McVeigh shut the door on a rented truck and walked away. When the clock in the nursery school at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building read 9:02, his hatred tore a gaping wound in our national conscience and forever changed us all. At least, it should have.

It didn’t take long – about as long as was needed to prove it wasn’t really an Arabic person that set off the bomb – for the apologists to begin clamoring. It wasn’t really McVeigh’s fault, they claimed. His cold-blooded murder was the direct result of and response to over-reaching government that had become criminal at Ruby Ridge (click here )and Waco ( click here ). It was, they claimed, like everything else wrong with the world, Bill Clinton’s fault ( click here ).

It’s the same hatred that motivated Eric Rudolph to build and explode four bombs in Georgia and Alabama ( ongoing coverage ). Two women’s clinic, a lesbian nightclub, and the Olympic games were Rudolph’s targets. An off duty police officer lost his life and a nurse lost her eye. Rudolph, like McVeigh, shows no regret but shrugs off the suffering he caused by saying the attack wasn’t personal.

The same is true for James Kopp ( click here ). He was found guilty of the sniper-style death of an abortion doctor in New York. His trial took place five years after he decided to kill someone because similar minded people agreed to grant him shelter and give him food. At least he never claimed it wasn’t personal.

Of course, it wasn’t Clinton’s fault and it wasn’t a rational and necessary act by a freedom fighter. It was a cowardly and despicable attack on the most defenseless citizens of this country. Even if the actions of the government at Ruby Ridge and Waco were criminal, nothing – nothing – excuses such terrorism. Adding to the blood of innocents with even more innocent blood is never a just way to make a point.

It is, however, the rational act of someone in whom a deep-seated hatred was bred. It didn’t occur naturally – hatred never does. It was taught and learned and mastered and passed along again. That hatred still has a palpable heartbeat today – ten years after it should have been snuffed out. Instead, it is now being preached by members of Congress.

Tom DeLay of Texas issued a thinly veiled warning against federal judges after they failed to rule in what he determined was the proper way ( click here ) in the Terri Schiavo case. His buddy, John Cornyn, then used the case to excuse those who take violent action against judges ( click here ). Only ten years ago, this was the rhetoric of the “lunatic fringe” and now it is so mainstream that we actually have people running for Congress on it as a legitimate issue.

DeLay and Cornyn are simply passing along the hatred that is ripping this country apart. It has to stop. It is wrong in every sense of the word. It is anti-American and it is anti-Christian – regardless of the claims that they are done in the best interest of the country and at the behest of a vengeful God. Honestly, isn’t this the exact claims made by Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden?

If we are going to truly wage war against terrorism, then we must start at home. We must root out and destroy the hatred that is the core reason that terrorism exists. We must label acts of violence against innocent people as terrorism – no matter who acts and who is the victim. We must denounce those who speak words that even come close to legitimizing such senseless attacks.

One of my favorite prayers begins, “O Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.” President Bush should seize upon the opportunity to engage in a national day of prayer and lead us in that prayer. We are a country badly in need of healing, a people badly in need of someone to unite us.

It has been said, “If everyone lives by an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, we will all be hungry and blind.” That is, of course, assuming that anyone is left alive.

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