"White Clouds Over Oklahoma"

By George "Sonny" Hoffman

April 28, 1995 

Did you hear the news?  It's awful.  It's tragic.  Hundreds of deranged people assaulted two-thousand innocent American children, beating, raping, burning, and torturing them to death. It's true.  I saw it on the national news last night. 

The story was a footnote to the evening news.  No camera crews reported from the scene.  The President was silent on the matter. The event simply happened.  It happened last year but took a full year to complete.  The same thing happened the year before and the year before that.  They say it will happen next year as well. The report was a statistical cud for us to chew while the network sold soap. 

During the commercial break, I chewed that cud and chased it with a beer.  Mostly, I saw, heard, and felt deeply the Oklahoma bombing that took roughly two-hundred lives.  Many were children. I am saddened and feel helpless by the loss of two thousand.  I am outraged and moved to action by the two hundred.  Hmmm? 

Dad called last night.  He was outraged and moved to action as well.  His favorite saying is, "Every dark cloud is fringed by white clouds."  Someone else said it better; nevertheless, the notion upsets me at times.  It is the "Every" part that upsets me.  To even stop and ponder the possible good things that can come from current tragedy seems...well, insensitive. 

He did it again.  "Something good will come from this.  You'll see...something very good, because it was a huge dark cloud." 

He spoke of haunting images that we shared: a crushed baby in a firefighter's arms, tears from a white cheek falling on a black cheek, the old, the young, Marines, and mothers, all buried under tons of American rubble.  How dare he speak of something good? 

After parting with exchanged words of love and caring, white clouds filled my mind.  Like the melody of a dumb song, the idea would not go away.  The harder I tried to fight it, the louder it played.  Excuse me if I share my thoughts of white clouds over Oklahoma. 

I remember the times I thought I had my father painted into a corner with his own philosophy.  "Pearl Harbor!" 

"It woke up America and got us into the war before it was too late." 

"All right, the Holocaust!  What good spin can you put on that?" 

"That's easy.  It gave racism a horrible face and gave Jews a homeland--Israel." 

See what I mean?  So, what about Oklahoma?  Well, it did knock O.J. off the front page.  I like that.  I don't know about you, but those right wing militia folks that I always thought were sincere but misguided patriots; now, they look like Nazis.  I'm sure many of them are having second thoughts about putting on cammies and playing soldier in the woods.  Who will listen to them now? 

Furthermore, there is a change underway in lethargic America. The masses are saying, "Something must be done."  Millions are moved to action; they demand action.  A debate, long overdue, has begun in earnest.  Congress is in session and considering the unthinkable--a fine-tuning of the Constitution.  A tune-up may be in order. 

The founding fathers never dreamed of this world or of fathering offspring like Tim McVeigh.  We face problems they could not conceive.  We inherited their love of liberty, but liberty has a price.  We've learned that liberty is a leased commodity and will never be owned free and clear. 

So, what price liberty?  Ben Franklin said something to the effect that to purchase security with liberty will yield neither. Old Ben was a smart guy, but will we cling to our precious individual liberty until the only real liberty we have remaining is the liberty to die individually or in groups?  Will we march headlong into anarchy clinging tenaciously to our Bill of Rights? 

Ben made the trade off look bad.  I made the trade once.  I joined the military.  After boot camp, it wasn't half bad.  Come to think of it, if I were offered the trade again, I'd jump at it.  If it weren't for having to walk in step and wear the same clothes as everyone else, the military life would be a paradise in which to raise a family.  One thing is certain, O.J. Simpson's court martial would have ended nine months ago. 

And what about this new frontier, Cyberspace?  How will sovereign nations coexist with an information super highway freely crossing their borders?  This highway is not physical.  How could a nation control it, police it, or stop it if they cannot coexist with it or survive without it? 

Now that billions of people know that poop and dinosaur renderings can make a point, how do we put that stinkie genie back in the bottle?  Better yet, how can we live with billions of opinions, any one of which can be punctuated with a big bang? This is the Pandora's box of problems that was opened by the blast.  The box lies at the bottom of a pile of rubble, crushed and broken.  We can't put the problems back or build another box. 

On the bright side, Tim McVeigh launched a Pearl Harbor attack that--like the one of fifty-four years ago--can mobilize the forces that might lead to a solution.  Also, like Adolph Hitler, another name that will live in infamy, McVeigh will paint the radical right with a tar brush of his making.  Just as Hitler created Israel--the last thing he wanted to do--perhaps McVeigh unwittingly created a new world order; or, at least, planted the seed.  He certainly used plenty of fertilizer. 

Gestation has begun, like it or not.  I'm not sure I will like this new world order, but I am now ready to consider the possibilities.  If McVeigh and his kind hated it, the new world order must have merit.  Regardless, the old world order has lost its appeal.  Something must be done.  Rest assured something will be done.  I am Tim McVeigh's and Adolph Hitler's worst nightmare.  I am a lethargic American, moved to action. 

Yes, I do see white clouds building along the fringes of that ominous dark mass hanging over Oklahoma.  It may be the first signs of a new world dawning, one in which deranged people do not have the liberty to torture innocent children.  I see it quite clearly; but then, I am gazing at the sky from the banks of the Rio Grande. 

Tim McVeigh, your sinister work is done; our work has just begun. You may have been an instrument used by a divine power to fulfill a divine purpose.  Maybe you are just another pathetic, genetic faux pas that has turned on its host.  Either way, follow Hitler: Die.

To those who lost loved ones in this tragic event; to the people of Oklahoma City; to all those who grieve, please forgive this premature look on the bright side.  I may be totally wrong, but we are all passing through.  No life is ever wasted.  Some live a hundred years and never make an impression in passing.  Some pass through in their first year, virtually unnoticed.  Those who died in Oklahoma City, however, regardless of their age, will leave a lasting imprint that would put a tyrannosaurus rex to shame. Their lives mark a turning point in world history.  They will never be forgotten as long as people live. 

Two-thousand abused children died last year.  We never knew them; how could we not forget.  Perhaps, next year, because of this awakening tragedy, the statistics will begin to fall.  Perhaps, just perhaps, the day may come when there are none we need recall.