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OPINION — When Gov. Kevin Stitt spoke at the ceremony commemorating the 26th anniversary of the 1995 Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing, he used a sacred place on a sacred day as an opportunity to create false equivalencies and spread toxic Fox “News” talking points. 

In the hands of most leaders, Democrat or Republican, this should have been a chance to display empathy and courage. Instead, Stitt chose to be craven and politically calculating.

“Never in our lifetime has it been easier for us to be divided,” Stitt said, moments after Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt expressed his love for a city permanently wounded by the actions of a Christian Identity Movement white nationalist. 

“There are groups that refuse to listen to another point of view,” he said. “They try to cancel anyone who sees the world differently. It feels like everywhere we turn, someone or something is trying to drive a wedge between us. … We must guard our hearts from the forces of hate and violence. Oklahoma, we have come too far to give in now.”

George Lang

OPINION by George Lang

Yes, our country is divided, but that conversation has no place in the discussion of what Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols did to our people in our city. Were we supposed to give these terrible men a platform for their hatred of our government? Does Stitt feel like the federal government “canceled” McVeigh when he was executed in 2001 for killing 168 of our friends, our parents and our children? 

These are honest questions, because it does not make sense to talk about trying to “cancel anyone who sees the world differently” when discussing McVeigh or his beliefs.

When McVeigh was arrested near Perry, he had a copy of The Turner Diaries by William Pierce, an associate of American Nazy Party founder George Lincoln Rockwell who, in his novel, imagined a race war resulting in the genocide of all non-whites. 

The Turner Diaries is a hate screed disguised as a novel. It is not protected by the First Amendment, nor should it be in the interest of listening “to another point of view.” 

Some of what Stitt said pointed to a dangerous cluelessness about his own policies and those of the Oklahoma Republican Party. When he said it “feels like everywhere we turn, someone or something is trying to drive a wedge between us,” it brought to mind his recent fear-mongering comments about the McGirt v. Oklahoma decision, which recognized the sovereignty of tribal nations over their lands in central and eastern Oklahoma. 

“The Supreme Court’s McGirt decision created a public safety threat for tribal and non-tribal members,” Stitt said. “As governor, it’s my first priority to ensure the safety of all 4 million Oklahomans.”

McGirt does not create lawlessness. Instead, it provides for sovereignty in tribal court decisions and the authority of Lighthorse police forces to investigate crimes in their jurisdiction. Stitt does not like having that jurisdiction taken from him, so he seems to be driving “a wedge between us.” 

And on the same day Stitt told us that “we must guard our hearts from the forces of hate and violence,” his allies in Oklahoma House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 2, which restricts transgender athletes from competing in women’s events. Despite warnings from the National Collegiate Athletic Association that SB 2 could keep NCAA events out of the state, these small-minded bigots passed the bill anyway. In this case, hate overpowered commerce. 

Stitt concluded by saying, “Oklahoma, we have come too far to give in now,” but when a state protects drivers who plow into protesters, as Oklahoma did last week with House Bill 1674, those words ring hollow. If we truly have “come too far to give in now,” then Stitt can veto HB 1674 and SB-2, and truly “guard our hearts from the forces of hate and violence.”

Last Updated April 20, 2021, 2:13 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor