April 19, 1995: A View to a Kill

I do not know about the rest of you, but I can say where I was in the days leading up to April 19, I had been in Scotland in the preceding week, and on April 17, I was in a hotel in Dumbarton, not 20 miles from the Glasgow airport. Exhausted from a day of driving in the rain, I threw myself down on the bed and turned on the television to get a last glimpse of international news not scripted entirely by the U.S. State Department, What I found, instead, was one of the lesser James Bond movies, A View to a Kill, in which 007 foils a plot to detonate an explosion along a major fault line, thus causing a catastrophic earthquake.

I do not know whether or not, even in theory, such a thing is possible, but the bomb that blew a hole in the federal office building in Oklahoma City on April 19 has opened social and political fissures that seem wider every day. On one side stand all the liberal, respectable people pointing their fingers at the hate-mongers who have dared to criticize the government—and standing with them, it must be said, are most of the frightened hate-mongers themselves—and on the other side a chorus of angry Middle Americans responding to the cries of "Oklahoma" with an antiphonal chant of "Waco" and "Ruby Ridge."

Listening to the radio in the weeks after the event, I became convinced that these two different sets of Americans inhabit parallel universes. On the...

Join now to access the full article and gain access to other exclusive features.

Get Started

Already a member? Sign in here