In this sense, the most useful analogue for last week's outrage in London may not be September 11 or even the bombing of Madrid last year, but the worst act of terrorism in postwar Western history before September 11: the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people in 1995. Timothy McVeigh, the perpetrator, was, like the London bombers, a small-time loser who felt he was acting out of intense ideological and religious motives. He was a fervent white supremacist and belonged to an extensive network of neo-Nazi fanatics who are generally believed to number many thousands across the US. His commitment to an essentially religious doctrine that a global Jewish conspiracy, using African-Americans as their subhuman foot-soldiers, was taking over the world and preparing to exterminate or enslave all white Christians was every bit as sincere as the faith and 'piety' of many jihadist terrorists.The columnist, Anatole Kaletsky, also puts words to thoughts I've been having the past few days. Connecting the London bombers with political motivation, such as the Iraq war, is wrong. People didn't engage n that kind of point scoring after Oklahoma City.
It certainly did not occur to anyone after the Oklahoma bombing to apologise for the racial desegregation which had provoked the American neo-Nazis and their ideological antecedents, the Ku Klux Klan. Nobody suggested abolishing affirmative action or banning Jews from public office on the grounds that racial mixing and the prominence of Jews was angering white supremacists and acting as 'a recruiting sergeant' for more neo-Nazi terrorists who might copy McVeigh.