The Oklahoma City Bombing was the first time in my life I began paying attention to the news. As a young Oklahoman, just miles from the terrorist attack, I didn't understand what was happening or why. I saw my friends racing to the principal's office in tears begging to be able to call and check if their parents were still alive.
At 9:02 a.m. when the bomb exploded killing 168 people, no assemblies were held so that a counselor could explain to children what it meant or why it happened. It was only after documentaries about Timothy McVeigh were released that, as a teen, I connected the dots.
A heavy piece of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building still sits on my bookshelf, a reminder of the moment childhood innocence gave way to the horrible reality of domestic terrorism in our homeland.
Televisions beamed images of racist, white Alabama police and firefighters shooting firehoses on peaceful civil rights protesters in 1963. They showed McVeigh's arrogant smirk as he stared down prosecutor Joseph Hartzler presenting the case against him. On Aug. 11, 2017, they showed white men carrying tiki torches through a small Virginia city chanting, "Jews will not replace us."
ABC News is releasing a new documentary Tuesday about the moments in U.S. history that terrorists have reared their ugly heads. "Homegrown Hate: The War Among Us" describes it as a "monster in hibernation" that resurfaced 22 years after the Oklahoma City bombing and 54 years after civil rights protesters were sprayed with firehoses.
The displays of violence at the hands of the white supremacists and violent militias aren't new. In "Homegrown Hate," the documentary team walks through the decades of violence and intimidation that continues to grow unobstructed by President Donald Trump's administration.
Former Homeland Security official Elizabeth Neumann revealed after leaving the Trump administration that during a 2019 conference on terrorism, the overwhelming majority of western leaders were concerned not about "radical Islamic terrorism," a term the GOP had demanded Democrats use. They were focusing on right-wing extremism.
"Though concerns about instability in the Middle East dominated most public discussions on counterterrorism, about 80 percent of the leaders at the conference ranked far-right extremism among their top concerns," she recalled in a Politico report.
Neumann woke up the next day to the terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, by a gunman who was inspired by Trump as "a symbol of renewed white identity," according to his manifesto. White House officials didn't want to talk about it, Neumann said. Much less about what the Trump administration should be doing to stop such extremism.
While this White House continues to ignore its responsibility to protect Americans from terrorism, the ongoing epidemic continues to grow.
"[Homegrown Hate] will trace the origins of the KKK that rose out of the ashes of the Civil War and connect to the modern-day white-supremacy/white-power movement that was spawned during Vietnam, grew steadily, led directly to the radicalization of 1995 Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and then morphed into what exists today," ABC said in the description of the documentary. "The documentary also examines the rise in current day hate crimes, how the government is combatting the threat and how it is, in some ways, failing to do what needs to be done."
It begins streaming Tuesday Oct. 6. See the trailer below: