Timothy McVeigh Was Not “Anti-Government”

As Lew Rockwell and Ryan McMaken have recently observed, the media and politicians are increasingly trying to associate anyone who is “anti-government” with Timothy McVeigh, in a desperate attempt to discredit the Tea Party movement.

Obviously, McVeigh’s murderous actions demonstrate that he was no libertarian.

But was he even “anti-government,” as the media would have us believe?

In this blog post, libertarian law professor Ilya Somin shows that he was not. In fact, he was a Neo-Nazi.

[UPDATE: A number of people have written me to suggest that Somin has it wrong. Details here.]

You should read the whole thing, but here’s a sample:

In reality, McVeigh was a neo-Nazi and his attack was inspired by the Turner Diaries, a 1978 tract that advocated the use of terrorism to overthrow the US and establish a government explicitly based on Nazi Germany. If you suffer through the experience of actually reading The Turner Diaries, as I did, you will find that author William Pierce did not support anything remotely resembling limited government; indeed, he explicitly repudiated limited government conservatism in one part of the book.

Rather, Pierce promotes the establishment of a totalitarian state modeled on Hitler’s (the book refers to Hitler as “the Great One”). There is absolutely no evidence that McVeigh’s attack or Pierce’s book were motivated by concerns about “American freedom” understood in a libertarian or conservative sense or that they sought to strike “a blow for liberty.” Rather, they were motivated by a desire to suppress Jews and non-whites and establish a Nazi-like “Aryan” state. Likewise, the original German Nazis also supported unconstrained government power, including in the economic realm. They weren’t the National Socialist Party for nothing.

. . .

By contrast, the Tea Party movement that many seek to conflate with McVeigh is primarily motivated by wholly different concerns. As a recent New York Times survey concluded, “When talking about the Tea Party movement, the largest number of respondents [who were supporters of the movement] said that the movement’s goal should be reducing the size of government.”

(Cross-posted at LRC.)

1 comment… add one

  • Even if were, what does it matter? Many political ideologies, if not all, will have their supporters and adherents that are willing to commit violence for it.


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