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Balancing Fear: Why Counter-Terror Legislation was Blocked after the Oklahoma City and London Bombings
Unformatted Document Text:  groups. He was not attempting to shape the threat as a war, but rather as an important internal struggle between those Americans who follow the rule of law and those who believe it does not apply to them. Indicative of his even-keeled message, Clinton declared that, “we will stand against the forces of fear. When there is talk of hatred, let us stand up and talk against it” 50 . The importance of the conflict seemed to recede as Clinton now assailed militia groups, right-wing extremists and even “the influence centers in our culture—the entertainment industry, the sports industry” 51 . Clinton’s blunted rhetoric was also present in a May 5, 1995 speech at Michigan State University in which he defended the American government. The President said that Americans have more freedom than most people in the world, and recanted the limits on government that the Constitution imposes. He stated that, “Our founding fathers created a system of laws in which reason could prevail over fear” 52 . That said, he continued to state that Americans were vulnerable due to the existence of “evil” ultra-right paramilitary groups and pushed the terror threat as one with a great magnitude. He did this by playing on Americans’ worst fears, “No one is free in an America where parents have to worry when they drop off their children for day care, or when you are the target of assassination simply because you work for the government,” he said 53 . Even with the threat shaped as a crime that needed to be contained, the passage of liberty-abridging counterterror laws appeared certain after the bombing 54 . Yet, an April 24, 1995 Irish Times article that doubted the passage of Clinton’s new law proved 50 William J. Clinton, “Oklahoma Bombing Memorial Prayer Service Address,” 23 April 1995, http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/wjcoklahomabombingspeech.thm. 51 “Clinton Assails Militias for Anti-American Stance,” Buffalo News, 2 May 1995. 52 William J. Clinton, “Remarks by President Clinton at Michigan State University,” 5 May 1995, http://www.clintonfoundation.org/legacy/050595-speech-by-president-at-michigan-state.htm. 53 Farrell, John Aloysius. “President Condemns Extremists,” The Boston Globe, 6 May 1995. 54 “Act of Terror Forces Nation to Focus on Tighter Security,” The Buffalo News, 21 April 1995. 25

Authors: Rubin, Gabriel.
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groups. He was not attempting to shape the threat as a war, but rather as an important
internal struggle between those Americans who follow the rule of law and those who
believe it does not apply to them. Indicative of his even-keeled message, Clinton
declared that, “we will stand against the forces of fear. When there is talk of hatred, let
us stand up and talk against it
. The importance of the conflict seemed to recede as
Clinton now assailed militia groups, right-wing extremists and even “the influence
centers in our culture—the entertainment industry, the sports industry”
Clinton’s blunted rhetoric was also present in a May 5, 1995 speech at Michigan State
University in which he defended the American government. The President said that
Americans have more freedom than most people in the world, and recanted the limits on
government that the Constitution imposes. He stated that, “Our founding fathers created
a system of laws in which reason could prevail over fear”
. That said, he continued to
state that Americans were vulnerable due to the existence of “evil” ultra-right
paramilitary groups and pushed the terror threat as one with a great magnitude. He did
this by playing on Americans’ worst fears, “No one is free in an America where parents
have to worry when they drop off their children for day care, or when you are the target
of assassination simply because you work for the government,” he said
Even with the threat shaped as a crime that needed to be contained, the passage of
liberty-abridging counterterror laws appeared certain after the bombing
. Yet, an April
24, 1995 Irish Times article that doubted the passage of Clinton’s new law proved
50
William J. Clinton, “Oklahoma Bombing Memorial Prayer Service Address,” 23 April 1995,
http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/wjcoklahomabombingspeech.thm.
51
“Clinton Assails Militias for Anti-American Stance,” Buffalo News, 2 May 1995.
52
William J. Clinton, “Remarks by President Clinton at Michigan State University,” 5 May 1995,
http://www.clintonfoundation.org/legacy/050595-speech-by-president-at-michigan-state.htm.
53
Farrell, John Aloysius. “President Condemns Extremists,” The Boston Globe, 6 May 1995.
54
“Act of Terror Forces Nation to Focus on Tighter Security,” The Buffalo News, 21 April 1995.
25


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