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No punishment could fit McVeigh's crime



Published: Tue, June 12, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Mass murderer Timothy McVeigh went quietly into history yesterday morning, his death far more peaceful than he deserved for the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City.

Even now, McVeigh apologists are still trying to justify this killer's heinous crime by rationalizing that he was driven to his desperate act because of his distrust of the federal government. In fact, he did have choices other than terrorism.

Should the true American patriot Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty have sunk the British ships the Dartmouth, the Eleanor and the Beaver drowning all hands aboard rather than throwing the tea the ships contained into Boston Harbor? Unlike McVeigh, Adams asserted & quot;There should be one rule of justice for rich and poor, for the favorite at court, and the countryman at the plough. & quot;

Nonviolence: Should Mohandas Gandhi have led hundreds of thousands of oppressed Indians to riot rather than to passive resistance against the injustices of the British government against the people of India? Unlike McVeigh, Gandhi believed that & quot;Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man. & quot;

Should the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. have blown up the Birmingham Jail to protest the racist acts committed against African Americans by the federal and state governments? Unlike McVeigh, King wrote from that jail, "For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle."

For McVeigh there was, indeed, one rule of justice -- his own. He chose as his weapon of destruction not nonviolent protest but violent massacre. The struggle was not his, but that of his victims and their families.

Cowardice: McVeigh was not a hero, but a cowardly psychopath: a coward, because his self-described act of war involved no attack against a seat of power, no assault on a military outpost. No, McVeigh's great act of defiance was to kill 168 men and women and babies in a day care center. A psychopath because he never evinced a modicum of remorse, a whit of shame.

And even at the end, he remained convinced of his own moral rightness, appropriating as his ultimate statement the words of another -- the poem "Invictus," by William Ernest Henley, a poet of gentleness whose memory does not deserve to be sullied by the likes of McVeigh.

"Invictus," means "unconquered" in Latin. But McVeigh and his false doctrine have been conquered by American justice. We hope his memory lasts no longer than his ashes.




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