That time when a terrorist attack struck the Olympic Games

That time when a terrorist attack struck the Olympic Games August 18, 2016

I see that both #LochteGate and #LochteMess are trending on Twitter. The initial reports of a U.S. olympian being mugged in Rio — thus confirming white American fears of lawless foreigners — appear to have been based on lies intended to cover-up the lawlessness of the U.S. olympian himself. This is not one of those heart-warming, triumph-of-the-human-spirit stories we’re used to seeing during the Olympic Games.

Both Ryan Lochte’s clumsy cover story and the media’s initial credulous acceptance of it reveal our willingness to assume the worst about South America as opposed to our more civilized society here in the “real” America. That’s ironic when we remember what happened when the Olympic Games were hosted here in America, in Atlanta, in 1996:

The Centennial Olympic Park bombing was a terrorist bomb attack on the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia, on July 27 during the 1996 Summer Olympics. The blast directly killed 1 person and injured 111 others; another person later died of a heart attack. It was the first of four bombings committed by Eric Robert Rudolph. Security guard Richard Jewell discovered the bomb before detonation and cleared most of the spectators out of the park. Rudolph, a carpenter and handyman, had detonated three pipe bombs inside an ALICE Pack. Motivated by what he considered to be the government’s sanctioning of “abortion on demand,” Rudolph wanted to force the cancellation of the Olympics.

What happened when a terrorist attack struck the very center of the Olympic Games here in the US of A? Well, our law enforcement sprung into action — and promptly tripped over its own feet. Richard Jewell — the security guard whose vigilance likely saved dozens of lives that day — was hounded for months as the FBI’s prime suspect. The actual terrorist, Eric Robert Rudolph, escaped unpursued, going on to commit three other bombings — at a women’s health clinic in the Atlanta suburbs, a lesbian bar in Atlanta, and another women’s health clinic in Birmingham, Alabama. The Birmingham bombing killed an off-duty police officer.

It was only after those additional bomb attacks that the FBI linked Rudolph to the terror attack during the Olympics. They placed him on their 10 Most Wanted list in 1998 and he was eventually captured and arrested in 2003. Following his arrest, Rudolph explained that his bombing campaign was intended to outlaw abortion, homosexuality, international socialism, and the songs of John Lennon (no, really). In a statement, Rudolph wrote:

Abortion is murder. And when the regime in Washington legalized, sanctioned and legitimized this practice, they forfeited their legitimacy and moral authority to govern. …

Along with abortion, another assault upon the integrity of American society is the concerted effort to legitimize the practice of homosexuality. Homosexuality is an aberrant sexual behavior, and as such I have complete sympathy and understanding for those who are suffering from this condition. Practiced by consenting adults within the confines of their own private lives, homosexuality is not a threat to society. Those consenting adults practicing this behavior in privacy should not be hassled by a society which respects the sanctity of private sexual life. But when the attempt is made to drag this practice out of the closet and into the public square in an “in your face” attempt to force society to accept and recognize this behavior as being just as legitimate and normal as the natural man/woman relationship, every effort should be made, including force if necessary, to halt this effort. …

In the summer of 1996, the world converged upon Atlanta for the Olympic Games. Under the protection and auspices of the regime in Washington millions of people came to celebrate the ideals of global socialism. Multinational corporations spent billions of dollars, and Washington organized an army of security to protect these best of all games. Even thought (sic) the conception and purpose of the so-called Olympic movement is to promote the values of global socialism, as perfectly expressed in the song “Imagine” by John Lennon, which was the theme of the 1996 Games — even though the purpose of the Olympics is to promote these despicable ideals, the purpose of the attack on July 27th was to confound, anger and embarrass the Washington government in the eyes of the world for its abominable sanctioning of abortion on demand.

Strawberry Fields memorial in Central Park, New York. (Wikimedia photo by Lolalatorre)

So where was he radicalized? Rudolph was a religious terrorist — raised in the “Christian Identity” movement that emphasizes the white supremacist strain of American Christianity. And he briefly served in the U.S. military. Where did he absorb his strident opposition to abortion and LGBT people? That’s less clear, but he lived in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Missouri, and if you hit “scan” on your car radio dial in any of those places, you’re bound to hear some preacher or talk radio host spouting something indistinguishable from Rudolph’s political views.

Rudolph is currently serving four consecutive life sentences in a federal prison. But his people — the Christian Identity folks who taught him all of this — are having a banner year in 2016. They’re celebrating the candidacy of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and hoping to further mainstream their religious and political views by rebranding themselves as “alt-right.” That rebranding effort is going swimmingly, with prominent “alt-right” champion Steve Bannon recently named as the new CEO for the Trump campaign.

Trump shot to the head of the polls during the Republican primaries after advocating a ban on Muslims entering the United States. As the party’s nominee in the general election, Trump has broadened that proposal, now calling for a ban on immigration “from areas of the world where there’s a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies.”

No word yet on whether that ban would include places like Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. But, as the case of Eric Robert Rudolph and the weirdly almost-forgotten Olympic bombing shows, they surely meet that criteria.

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