Oklahoma governor warns of 'cancel' culture at memorial for bombing victims

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Gov. Kevin Stitt drew a line between the 'hate and violence' that motivated the terrorist attack and people who 'try to cancel' those who disagree with them.

In a speech on Monday marking the 26th anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt drew a line between the "hate and violence" that motivated the terrorist attack and people who "try to cancel" those who disagree with them.

"The forces of hate and violence must not be allowed to gain their victory," Stitt said, quoting from a speech made by the Rev. Billy Graham in Oklahoma City four days after the bombing.

"Never in our lifetime has it been easier for us to be divided," Stitt went on. "There are groups that refuse to listen to another point of view. They try to cancel anyone who sees the world differently."

Republicans have recently focused on so-called cancel culture, repeatedly casting in a negative light efforts to hold people accountable for offensive words and deeds.

The topic has been a consistent theme among Republican elected officials and on right-wing media outlets such as Fox News.

The Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 was an act of right-wing terrorism, a point Stitt ignored in his speech.

Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, who were affiliated with the militia movement, created and detonated a bomb that killed 168 in and around the vicinity of the Murrah Federal Building, including 19 children who died in a day care center there, and injured an additional 650 people.

The Jan. 6 attack by pro-Trump rioters on the U.S. Capitol, like the Oklahoma City bombing, has direct links to the right-wing ideologies embraced by its perpetrators. Stitt's own staff came under fire for violent imagery in its communications the day before the riot occurred.

Stitt's communications director and a former staffer for the National Republican Congressional Committee, Carly Atchison, tweeted, "It's January 5 and the @NRCC has already put House Democrats in body bags. Godspeed @dccc." In response a few days later, the chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, Alicia Andrews, said, "Last week's attack on the U.S. Capitol made it clearer than ever that words matter. The violent rhetoric used by Governor Stitt's top communications aide just a day before the attack – which left at least five people including a police officer dead – is unacceptable, and she must be held accountable."

A report recently issued by U.S. intelligence agencies warns that violent extremists — particularly those open to Donald Trump-style lies about the 2020 election — continue to "pose an elevated threat" to the country.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.