Friday, April 18, 2014

Ideologies of Destruction

Which has killed more Texans: Muslim extremism or libertarianism?

Photo: LM Otero/AP

This week marked the one-year anniversary of two deadly bombings, both ultimately the result of deadly ideologies. The best-known of these was the cowardly detonation of two home-made devices at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three and grievously injuring many more. As with most people in my region, I was stunned and offended, have followed the case closely, and have contributed to the fund for victims.

Two days after the bombing in Boston, a much larger explosion took place in the town of West, Texas (located in central Texas). As with any story from Texas, Wade Goodwyn best tells the story of the explosion and of the rollercoaster year that followed. Nearly 20 years after Timothy McVeigh destroyed the Federal Building in Oklahoma City with 500 pounds of ammonium nitrate, Don and Wanda Adair stored 100 times that amount of the bomb-making material in a wooden shed. As his report makes clear, ideology may prevent the prevention of future such disasters. Even residents of the town victimized by the explosion are loathe to blame the couple who put them at risk.

Back in Boston, the anniversary of the West explosion was recognized in a report on Here & Now that asked What's Being Done to Prevent Another Fertilizer Plant Explosion? Sadly, the answer is very little. Perhaps if the Adairs were from another religion, the response would have been more decisive, but free-market fetishism continues to thrive, and will continue to kill.

April, by the way, is a very tough month for ammonium nitrate explosions in Texas and Oklahoma:

April 16, 1947: Texas City, Texas -- 581 killed, including most of the fire department
April 19, 1985: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma -- 168 killed, including most of a preschool
April 17, 2013: West, Texas -- 15 killed, including 13 firefighters

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