Saturday, November 17, 2007

When Baptists Have Bombs

A trunkful of napalm isn't evidence of terrorism if you're a white male ROTC member/religion major at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. Pastorblog says, "It appears that this passionate young man was trying to protect the reputation and honor of Jerry Falwell." Nice to hear that a Hitler-obsessed kid is so, umm, thoughtful. Oh, and he does plan to apply to be reinstated to ROTC when his sentence is over.

"Mark David Uhl, 19, asked the court for leniency at Tuesday's sentencing, but that was rejected by U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon." Two years is apparently a tough sentence. When Baptists have bombs, they are sentenced to less time in jail than that spent by the legally innocent people herded into Guantanamo as "enemy combatants" and "terrorists."

What did he plan to do with five bombs packed with nails? Possibly, as Max Blumenthal reports,
kill the family of itinerant Calvinist provocateur Fred Phelps (famous for their "Fag Troops" rallies outside soldiers' funerals). The Phelpses planned to protest Falwell's funeral, a bizarre stunt designed to highlight Falwell's somehow insufficiently draconian attitude towards homosexuals.

Falwell's "leniency" may be that he never, as far as I know, publicly advocated that we should be executed like rabid dogs. Otherwise he and Fred Phelps pretty much agreed on the idea that us queers are hell-bound sinners whose evil has attracted God's judgment on the USA.

However, Fred Phelps may not have been the only one at risk. In court Agent R. A. Anderson of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms testified that:
Uhl had told his relatives he would set off the bombs in the parking lot of a Mormon church, use them to kill cows, "or something to that effect." . . . Uhl had once participated in an attack on his former high school in Northern Virginia. He and several friends made a tear-gas-like bomb using Tabasco sauce and a heater from a military Meals Ready to Eat ration. They planned to throw it from the roof at prom-goers as a prank, Anderson said Uhl had told him, but got scared and instead tossed it into a ventilation shaft.

Uhl boasted "He'd saved a lot of people from losing their virginity that night."

Clearly a true American hero.

Whatever Uhl's purpose with his bombs of napalm and nails, this country is supposed to be ruled by laws that apply to all. The law is not supposed to discriminate between explosives wielded by atheists, Muslims, Baptists, and anybody else. The gender and skin color of the defendant are not supposed to matter, either, though you know and I know that they make a difference long before a lawbreaker ever becomes a defendant.

I know this kid doesn't think of himself as a terrorist but as a hero defending the helpless. That scares me; I have a bit of a Joan of Arc complex myself. He was bullied, according to his parents. I can sympathize with that, too. And he was reared in a country, culture, and religion that gave him, on the one hand, enormous privilege and an image of masculinity that has to cause horrible damage to anyone trapped in it. Likewise, very little help with dealing with emotional or psychological problems, because real men don't have those, and neither do good Christians.

I wish I could wrap this up with a neat platitude or aper├žu. What I have instead is sorrow and frustration at a problem that defies solution, and enough wisdom to know that napalm is not going to make anything better.

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