Yesterday, April 19, was the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, which was deliberately carried off on the same date as the Waco catastrophe in 1993. The response to yesterday’s anniversary from many, including several friends on Facebook, ran on the lines of “never forget the power of hate.” Hate is powerful and devious; it’s no surprise that recent news reports (http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2010/04/hitler-book-weapons-ammo-found-in-militia-raids.html) indicate that the Hutaree militia members arrested in Indiana and Michigan in late March had copies of The Turner Diaries, the hate-filled novel used by McVeigh as his guidebook.
People are increasingly getting their news from one-sided sources and accept it without any critical thinking. Inconsiderateness (have you driven on 465 lately?) and incivility in public discourse abound. Pure misinformation is presented as fact (even by some Examiners: www.beepwire.com/x-38904-Phoenix-Small-Business-Management-Examiner~y2010m3d26-If-you-are-muslim-you-can-opt-out-of-the-Obamacare-health-care-reform-laws-with-no-penalties, for the reality, see http://factcheck.org/2010/04/more-malarkey-about-health-care/). Facebook groups appear urging slapping or punching people with whom one disagrees.
Most of these people would say they have no intention of doing anything like McVeigh, but historical examples give cause for great concern. Especially while some throw about charges such as “Nazi,” we need to keep in mind that Hitler and his cohorts established a foothold through subtle means that played on popular grass-roots discontent, blaming economic troubles on various groups portrayed in stereotypes, building hate against anyone whom they disliked, and vilifying anyone who disagreed with them.
The religious dimension of this is “false witness.” The Ten Commandments that so many want plastered on every public building charge us to tell the truth. This means not passing on every rumor you hear, and taking the time to learn something about what you’ve read. Note to people who pass on “information” about “Muslim” terrorists: McVeigh’s Cosmotheist Church is no more representative of Christianity than the Wahabis are of Islâm. Unless you only eat pork chops and bacon, Muslims are great neighbors and friends.
To widen the religious perspective, the Buddha stated: “Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.” (Anguttara Nikaya 3.65: Kalama Sutra 188-193).