Timothy McVeigh Was Not “Anti-Government”

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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 [sic] 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.”

3:22 pm on April 20, 2010
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