Last Thursday, Sebastian Gorka, a deputy assistant to President Trump, went on Breitbart News Daily and made a case that the media should take it easier on white supremacists.
While dismissing the notion of “lone wolf” terror attacks, Gorka discussed Timothy McVeigh, a right-wing extremist who wasn’t connected to ISIS or al Qaeda and killed 168 people when he bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. Gorka, however, suggested that the Oklahoma City was ancient history, and that McVeigh is not the sort of person we should be worried about in 2017.
“It’s this constant, ‘Oh, it’s the white man. It’s the white supremacists. That’s the problem.’ No, it isn’t, Maggie Haberman,” he said. “Go to Sinjar. Go to the Middle East, and tell me what the real problem is today. Go to Manchester.”
Gorka’s take was bad at the time — he overlooked data indicating that over a nearly 14 year span following the 9/11 attacks, a person in America was much more likely to be killed by a right-wing extremist than a Muslim. But his comments looked even worse on Saturday, when an alleged Nazi sympathizer plowed his car into a crowd of people protesting a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one.
Then, on Monday, news broke of another alleged right-wing plot. The Department of Justice announced that 23-year-old Jerry Varnell was arrested on Saturday “after he failed to detonate what he believed to be an explosives-laden van he had parked in an alley” next to an Oklahoma City bank. Varnell was arrested after a months-long undercover FBI investigation.
The Washington Post, citing court documents, reports that Varnell was motivated by “an admiration for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.”
“In one conversation he said he believed in the ‘Three Percenter’ ideology — a form of anti-government activism that pledges resistance against the United States government on the belief it has infringed on the Constitution, according to court papers,” the Post adds. “Those who subscribe to the ideology incorrectly believe that only 3 percent of the colonial population participated in the American Revolution, and they see themselves as their heirs.”
In a statement, Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) said “[i]t is chilling to think that a sympathizer of Timothy McVeigh would want to act on hate, as a tribute to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil before September 11.”
Contradicting Gorka, Lankford added that Varnell’s arrest “is another somber reminder that, as a nation, we must remain vigilant about home-grown extremism and radicalization in our communities.”
Gorka, meanwhile, has been unusually quiet over the course of the five very tumultuous days since he argued on “the platform for the alt-right” that white supremacists aren’t a problem.