Violence, intimidation don’t work

Randy Riley - Contributing columnist

The textbook definition of terrorism is, “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.”

Considering that definition, it should be easy for any sane, freedom-loving person to condemn all acts of terrorism regardless of where it happens, how it happens or who commits the act of terrorism.

In the United States, we can change things without reverting to violence or intimidation – it’s called elections. We can go to the polls every year and cast our ballots for or against issues we support and for candidates who support our opinions on various issues.

We should never resort to acts of violence against our fellow citizens to get our opinions across. In fact, it just never works.

Timothy McVeigh committed a huge act of domestic terrorism when he blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. McVeigh was angry with the federal government over their handling of the stand-off in Ruby Ridge, Idaho and their handling of the Branch Davidian siege in Waco, Texas.

To refresh our memories, the Ruby Ridge incident started because Randy Weaver refused to go to court and answer firearms charges. When government officials went to Weaver’s home at Ruby Ridge to take him in on those charges, a gun fight occurred.

The incident escalated and people on both sides of the issue died. Many people, including Timothy McVeigh, were angered by the government’s handling of the Ruby Ridge incident.

The incident at Waco involved a fringe religious group called the Branch Davidians. David Koresh, a self-proclaimed prophet and leader of the group, used firearms to support some of his radical religious positions. He also claimed the right to start a new linage of religious leaders by having children with any of the females at the compound — including some of the very young girls.

When federal officials raided the compound to search for illegal weapons and to investigate the charges of sexual abuse, a shootout occurred that took several lives and culminated in a 51-day siege. The siege ended with a horrible fire and the deaths of dozens of people.

These two incidents sparked anger and hatred within Timothy McVeigh that resulted in his blowing up of the federal building in Oklahoma City. What he did was purely domestic terrorism. Lives were lost. Families were destroyed. The entire country was shocked and mourned the loss of life, but governmental policies in handling illegal weapons charges and charges of sexual abuse did not change.

Innocent people died at the hands of a terrorist for no reason. McVeigh’s terrorism doesn’t work.

Terrorism and terrorist groups who are attempting to change our country with violence and hatred must never be tolerated. Whether the groups are international or domestic they must be opposed with every fiber of our being.

No single group can ever be considered as supreme, or superior, to any other group of people. White supremacy is a ridiculous notion that, sadly, has existed for centuries.

Less than 200 years ago, our government supported positions in which whites ruled supreme. Blacks were enslaved and sold like livestock. Native Americans were being systematically slaughtered. Those are horrible, shocking examples of what white supremacy looks like.

Our nation was wrong. Unfortunately, it took decades to correct the injustices that were then supported by our government. Eventually, our Constitution was changed. Laws were passed to correct the mistakes of the past.

It’s never easy to make such changes. The Civil War remains the deadliest war our nation has ever fought. Our union survived, but the notion of white supremacy did not go away.

Our nation must never tolerate racism, discrimination and the hatred and violence that stems from the evil that flows from the hearts of people who think they are superior to others

Sadly, it will not end with the lessons we should learn from Charlottesville. We didn’t learn from the Oklahoma City bombing or the bombing at the Centennial Olympic Park in 1996, or the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, the Charleston Church shooting in 2015, the San Bernardino shooting in 2015, the Orlando nightclub shooting in 2016 or any of the scores of other terrorist incidents we have endured.

We must learn to deal with people and other ideas without killing and violence. We must learn to tolerate other points of view without violence. We must learn to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Randy Riley is President of Council of Wilmington.

Randy Riley

Contributing columnist