Terror in the heartland

April 21, 1995

The rapid solution of the New York World Trade Center bombing in February 1993 gives Americans confidence that the murderers of Oklahoma City on Wednesday will be caught and convicted.

Whoever they were and why-ever they did it, they declared war on all Americans. The result will not be to panic or intimidate, as intended, but to unify Americans and strengthen our resolve.

As President Clinton said, "We should not stereotype anybody. What we need to do is to find out who did this and punish them harshly." It looked like the sort of job the World Trade Center was, a bombing associated with Middle East extremists. But a lot of how-to-do-it stuff has been published about that. Someone could imitate it.

Now we know what other countries live through. There has been a lot of bombing in Europe, some of it by foreigners unrelated to issues in the host countries, some of it by native separatists. The U.S. endured bombings by a few domestic leftists in the 1970s, but nothing like this.

President Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno were quick in mustering response to the Oklahoma City outrage. Americans can trust the forces sent to unravel the mystery and capture the evil people responsible.

World sympathy was immediately apparent, and reflected in the good work by British immigration in returning a passenger arriving at Heathrow airport as a possible witness.

Whoever bombed little children and random strangers to bits, inflicting incredible physical and mental suffering on many others, clearly doesn't care. But the inhumanity shocks all people of good will everywhere. The inevitable identification of those responsible will only penalize, not advance, whatever cause was supposedly being served.

All Americans suffer from this outrage. There is more insecurity. People afraid of drive-by shootings in their own neighborhoods will now also fear to go downtown. There will be more metal detectors to walk through, more frisks, greater distances to walk from parking, in our public buildings.

Such is the curse of these times. Other nationalities already experience it. Hours before the car bombing in Oklahoma City, someone spread poison gas on a commuter train line in Yokohama, Japan. This came while Japanese police were closing in on the sect suspected of a fatal poisoning on the Tokyo subway in March, which it denies.

Possibly, somebody over there was trying to prove that the poisoners still have capability. And possibly, somebody in Oklahoma was trying to prove that despite convictions in the New York World Trade Center bombing and the ongoing trial of others there for planning more, the bombers still have capability.

Americans must learn to put up with the risks and overcome the intimidation, until the evil is rooted out. This, too, will pass.

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