Talk:Oklahoma City bombing

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Featured articleOklahoma City bombing is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
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On this day... Article milestones
March 6, 2007Good article nomineeListed
July 11, 2007Peer reviewReviewed
March 15, 2008Good article reassessmentKept
June 4, 2009Peer reviewReviewed
May 30, 2009Guild of Copy EditorsCopyedited
June 30, 2009Featured article candidatePromoted
On this day... Facts from this article were featured on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "On this day..." column on April 19, 2004, April 19, 2005, April 19, 2006, April 19, 2007, April 19, 2008, April 19, 2009, April 19, 2011, April 19, 2015, and April 19, 2020.
Current status: Featured article

IMDB as a source[edit]

The "Rescue efforts" subsection of Response and relief uses IMDB as reference. Trivia items on IMDB pages are user-generated content and surely should not be used? Wikipedia:Citing IMDb

"Several cast and crew members filming for the 1996 movie Twister paused filming to come help with recovery efforts." (talk) 19:30, 15 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks for pointing this out. TulsaPoliticsFan (talk) 19:41, 15 May 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

“White supremacists”[edit]

There’s a claim in the lede that McVeigh and Nichols were “white supremacists”. It was removed because it was unsourced; User:Equivamp reverted the removal, pointing to a source in the body. But there are 3 problems with the source in the body: 1) the Southern Poverty Law Center is an activist organization and not a high-quality source; 2) the “article” linked is literally just two paragraphs and a 3 minute YouTube video with zero original sources or actual evidence; and 3) the “article” or whatever it is, doesn’t say that McVeigh or Nichols were “white supremacists”; it says that they were “radicalized by white supremacist and antigovernment propaganda”, meaning that even if this were a high quality source, the claim in the lede would still be imprecise and unsupported by it. Anti-ideologue (talk) 21:06, 4 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

THe Southern Poverty Law Center is a WP:RS; see WP:SPLC. Also, please see the above discussion on how plenty of other sources support the claim. TulsaPoliticsFan (talk) 21:54, 4 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
WP:SPLC also says “As an advocacy group, the SPLC is a biased and opinionated source. The organization's views, especially when labeling hate groups, should be attributed per WP:RSOPINION”, which is not happening in this article. The guide also says it’s important to avoid giving it undue weight. Also, the fact that the SLPC article itself is a few unsourced paragraphs demonstrates that it’s a low quality source, regardless of your opinion on the SPLC.
Also, you ignored the other points I raised, particularly the one about the claim in the lede not even being in the article. The previous discussion doesn’t make that point any less true.
Finally, it’s pretty telling that the only sources provided to support this claim are recent low-quality opinion pieces by activists who fundraise off of the perceived threat of white supremacy and thus have a financial interest in retconning the Oklahoma City bombing 25 years after the fact to tie it to their cash cow. Anti-ideologue (talk) 22:55, 4 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You're ignoring the discussion of The Turner Diaries clear and documented influence on McVeigh, which is also cited later in the article. Also, on the WP:SPLC, it says The decision to include should rather be decided on a case-by-case basis and the consensus here was for inclusion. You're unlikely to get traction on the idea that a bomber who committed a bombing with a copy of the The Turner Diaries in his possession was not a white supremacist. More and better sourcing should probably be added, but there is clear consensus to keep the label. TulsaPoliticsFan (talk) 23:29, 4 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I would also recommend both Bring the War Home by Kathleen Belew and the recent Homegrown by Jeffrey Toobin. Cheers. Dumuzid (talk) 23:44, 4 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Both of those authors fit the mold I described above. Toobin especially, who was a political talking head on CNN before he got fired for masturbating on a work Zoom call. Anti-ideologue (talk) 00:11, 5 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
With all due respect, your personal opinions, while no doubt interesting, don't really mean anything on Wikipedia unless you can sway a consensus to see things your way. Cheers. Dumuzid (talk) 00:24, 5 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
With all due respect, you’re the one recommending books to me. Cheers. Anti-ideologue (talk) 00:27, 5 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Books, also known as "reliable sources". Dumuzid (talk) 00:31, 5 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Are you being obtuse intentionally? You didn’t add those books as sources for the claim being debated. You recommended them, unsolicited, to another editor. That means that editor is free to give you his or her opinion on the authors of said books. Anti-ideologue (talk) 00:38, 5 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I never implied you weren't. Dumuzid (talk) 00:51, 5 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Then the article should attribute the claim to the SLPC, not state it as fact, per WP:SPLC. I’ll make the edit. Anti-ideologue (talk) 00:03, 5 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Get consensus first. Dumuzid (talk) 00:23, 5 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don’t need consensus to comply with Wikipedia’s own guidelines. Feel free to read WP:SPLC yourself. Anti-ideologue (talk) 00:26, 5 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'll add the Belew site to hopefully address your issue. Dumuzid (talk) 00:31, 5 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The line in WP:SPLC that says “The decision to include should rather be decided on a case-by-case basis” is clearly referring to hate labels on non-US entities. Anti-ideologue (talk) 01:12, 5 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There is extraordinarily little evidence to suggest that McVeigh was a white supremacist. The main target was the US Government, and the majority of the victims of the bombing were, afaik, white. McVeigh never made any statements either to suggest that white supremacy played a role.
The ADL also espouses the view that Timothy McVeigh was a ‘white supremacist.’ However, the ADL itself is a hate organisation that denied the Armenian Genocide for decades, and has supported the many terroristic actions of the Israeli government. How are they considered a ‘reliable’ source?
This whole retconning of the original motives of this event, to add in, over 20 years after this happened, to suddenly say that McVeigh was a white supremacist, is basically historical revisionism with almost zero proof. (talk) 16:25, 13 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There is extraordinarily little evidence to suggest that McVeigh was a white supremacist is objectively false. He was arrested with a copy of the Turner Diaries, a white supremacist novel, with highlighted sections about a truck bombing that occurs in the novel. Basing your terrorist attack on an explicitly white supremacist novel that you carry with you to the attack is not "extraordinarily little evidence." I encourage you to read more about McVeigh if you legitimately think this because it is incorrect. TulsaPoliticsFan (talk) 16:59, 13 October 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think the use here is questionable. We do have some sources that show the link. However, per NPOV, if we are going to say he was a white supremacist in the lead we really need to show that is the generalize consensus in RSs, not just that we can find some that describe him this way. This is why I've been concerned with the use since the phrase. I recall when this happened and I don't recall news stories at the time emphasizing white supremacy vs anti-government. As a point of reference, neither of the articles about Nichols or McVeigh emphasize "white nationalism" in their leads. Instead they are focused on anti-government motives. A search for McVeigh's name quickly turns up two FBI pages[1][2]. Neither mention white supremacy. This 2007 CNN article doesn't say white supremacist but does make it clear he was racist in the body[3]. The same is true of this 1995 WP article[4]. While I wouldn't cite Britannica I do find it interesting to see what a professionally edited encyclopedia had to say on the subject [5][6]. Britannica clearly emphasizes the anti-government aspect. It doesn't mention racism or similar as a motivation. Even the one article I found that mentioned white supremacy made it clear that the motivation was anti-government, "No event did more to radicalize McVeigh than did the stand-off near Waco, Texas between members of the Branch Davidians".[7] For this reason I feel that putting white supremacist as a primary descriptor of the two people is misleading. Yes, McVeigh at least, was clearly a racist and source agree that some of his radicalization came from racist material. However, the sources are also clear that his motive was anti-government rather than racism or any kind of nationalism. Springee (talk) 00:58, 5 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't think the motives are so easily disentangled, and the more one gets in to scholarly and/or longform work, I think the white supremacism becomes more clear. There is Bring the War Home by Kathleen Belew, as I mentioned, whose entire thesis is basically placing McVeigh and Nichols in a white supremacist context. Similarly, Jeffrey Toobin's new Homegrown (which the Texas Observer called the "the definitive book on Timothy McVeigh’s continuing legacy") depicts McVeigh as embodying "the anti-government, gun-obsessed, white supremacist rage evident on January 6—a politics of rage that has moved from the fringe to very near the center of conservative politics." In Professor Darren Mulloy's Years of Rage, McVeigh is described as having a "burgeoning interest" in white supremacy, and later "immersing himself deeper and deeper into the paramilitary and white supremacist underground." Leonard Zeskind, in his book Blood and Politics says that in court, "prosecutors . . . objectively proved that McVeigh was, in fact, more than just an ex-military man angry at government misdeeds at Waco. He was not simply an 'antigovernment' activist. He was a soldier who had switched enlistments from the United States Army to the white nationalist underground." Suffice it to say, I think the descriptor is appropriate in this instance. Cheers. Dumuzid (talk) 02:03, 5 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm not convinced this isn't a case of selective sourcing. Not done in bad faith but any stretch but when I just look up the name or the subject I don't see sources describing either as white nationalists, even the sources that make the racism clear. I'm also wary of putting to much weight into source that are looking at this as part of a bigger political movement vs just the event itself. Such sources have a proverbial hammer and often err on the side of identifying screws as nails. I'm convinced this should be in the body but not in the lead. Springee (talk) 11:00, 5 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think it's a reasonable stance that it should be in the body but not the lede. I'm not convinced we should make that change, but I'd be open to it. Pinging editors from the last discussion @Newimpartial @Kralizec! to see if they have input. TulsaPoliticsFan (talk) 16:48, 5 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I still maintain it should be in the lead, but am obviously happy to follow consensus should it be against me here, and I agree that is a reasonable take. And there certainly is selective sourcing here, insofar as I definitely have a bias toward more recent and more in-depth approaches. Cheers to all whatever happens. Dumuzid (talk) 17:20, 5 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I would outline the situation in this way: do we have multiple, high-quality reliable sources that characterize the actor in question as "white nationalist"? Yes. Do we have multiple, reliable sources that dispute this characterization? No. So is it reasonable (a) to use "white nationalists" in wikivoice and (b) to include this information in the lead section? Yes and yes.
Whether the article actually presents the information in this way is a matter for local consensus, but in my mind it is certainly policy-compliant to do so. And I would not be inclined to go back to more NEWS-type sources that were closer (temporally) to the event in determining DUE - I think the more recent, more in-depth sources are simply better. Newimpartial (talk) 17:53, 5 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
When dealing with a topic that is covered by a large number of sources we need to start considering what, to use a rough analogy, the average source says. While the average source does point to racism etc in the background they generally don't call the two white nationalists or similar. They do call them anti government or similar. This is why I don't think we should be introducing them as white nationalists in a way that implies their motives were white nationalism/supremacy vs the very clear, widely agreed view that they were angry government based on things like Wako. Again, we need to look not to sources who's intent is to draw straight lines between this event and other groups. We should look at sources about this event and see what they say. Springee (talk) 18:52, 5 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
When dealing with a topic that is covered by a large number of sources that vary in quality and in date of publication, policy compels us to consider the higher-quality and more recent sources with more weight, rather than constructing an average source where different levels of quality and distances of temporal remove are thrown together indescriminately. Newimpartial (talk) 19:00, 5 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Not exactly. We should put more weight on higher quality sources and sources that summarize rather than drive into subtopics or intend to tie otherwise unrelated events together. More recent is also good if it's shown they have new/updated information. That they have a different perspective doesn't make it better despite being newer. Springee (talk) 20:14, 5 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I believe the more generally held view is that recent, reliable, secondary sources are the gold standard for DUE, and that sources that summarize rather than drive into subtopics or intend to tie otherwise unrelated events together - AKA historical scholarship and the other sciences humaines - deserve more WEIGHT than NEWSORGS and similar coverage that is close to the original event. Newimpartial (talk) 16:46, 6 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Again, sources that set out to tie A to B aren't inherently better than sources that intended to summarize/provide overall picture without pushing to a specific perspective. Also, we don't assume a later article is inherently better if it basically has the same available facts. The assumption with later=better is more the has allowed the collection of more information. Springee (talk) 19:46, 6 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think you will find that the comminity values sources that are at a greater distance from an event and that provide more in-depth analysis more than sources that are closer to an event and offer less analysis. But if you disagree, as you apparently do, I would encourage you to raise the question at a more appropriate forum (like WT:RS, for example). Newimpartial (talk) 16:21, 10 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think you are arguing something other than what I'm saying. First, I don't think just being newer is seen as better. It is generally assumed that newer means more available information with which to draw a conclusion but if that isn't shown then newer doesn't inherently mean better. For example, an older, widely cited work is likely given more weight than a newer, less cited work. In-depth does depend. If the depth is specifically researching the event then probably yes. However, if the writer's objective is to say A=B rather than just investigating A then we need to be more careful. This gets back to the old saying "If the only tool you have is a hammer, you will start treating all your problems like a nail.” If a source sets out to prove A=B then there is a risk they only looked for information that supports A=B (vs evidence that A!=B or A=C etc). Regardless, it seems that most sources don't refer to these two people as "white supremacists" including our own articles on the two people. Nicole's article really doesn't support the claim and as Nicole's is still living this could be a BLP issue. Springee (talk) 16:34, 10 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Springee, are you suggesting that it is up to wikipedia editors to evaluate the evidence behind statements made in RS? Because I believe that view to represent an idiosyncrasy on your part, rather than enwiki policy.
Similarly, your reading that more recent sources are only better when they include more available information also seems idiosyncratic and lacks a discernable basis in P&Gs. Another reason that the content of RS shifts over time is that the perspectives of the writers shift - contemporary scholarship on transatlantic slavery differs from 1950s and 1960s scholarship for reasons that have nothing to do with "more available information". We follow the recent, reliable sources on enwiki, as far as I know, and the sources you are leaning into have for the most part, hit their 20-year sunset clause. Newimpartial (talk) 16:41, 10 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
No, it is up to Wikipedia editors to establish the weight/BALASP any statement is given. I didn't say new is ONLY better when it includes "more available information". Rather I'm saying we presume newer is better because of this. Also, it's one thing when we are talking about say a history of the US Civil War written in 1901 vs 2001. It's another when we are talking about something written in say 2007 vs 2012 vs 2018. I wouldn't presume something written in 2018 is inherently better than something written in 2007 absent some other information to explain why. Your slaver example isn't a very strong one. First, there has been a large social perspective change between 1950s and 2023. It's also a 70 year gap. In both cases we would have to look at the sources and ask what they are trying to convey. You seem to be trying to say later always equals better but are ignoring the bigger concern of mine which is the difference between a work that studies the facts and maps out the conclusions they present vs a source that has a hypothesis and thus tries to convince readers that the hypothesis is true. The former doesn't have an overall objective beyond stating what happened. The latter does. While the latter might be good for a number of factual claims, we need to be careful when giving it more big picture/interpretive weight. Consider this. If "White supremacists" was an encyclopedic, high level description for these people, why did it take so long for it to be applied to them by RSs? Why wouldn't it be in the leads of the individual biographies? Was this only recently discovered information? Springee (talk) 17:15, 10 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

WP:SPLC and the SPLC as a source[edit]

Hey folks. WP:SPLC states, “As an advocacy group, the SPLC is a biased and opinionated source. The organization's views, especially when labeling hate groups, should be attributed per WP:RSOPINION. Take care to ensure that content from the SPLC constitutes due weight…”

In keeping with Wikipedia’s guidelines, I attempted to add in-text attribution to the SPLC’s claim that Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were white supremacists. (Never mind the fact that the article is pretty low-quality and actually says they were “radicalized by white supremacist propaganda”, which is not the same thing.)

However, this change to comply with Wikipedia’s guidelines was reverted by both User:Dumuzid and User:TulsaPoliticsFan, despite the point being raised on the Talk page and being unaddressed by them.

I won’t revert or make the change again to avoid an edit war, but I find the contention by these editors that the current version is a “consensus” to be odd, considering the number of times the spurious claims in it have been called into question. I also find it odd that the burden of achieving consensus is with the editor complying with Wikipedia’s guidelines and not with those purposefully ignoring them.

At this point I think it’s worth having an uninvolved admin weigh in. Anti-ideologue (talk) 01:10, 5 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I added another citation in hopes of addressing this issue. Dumuzid (talk) 01:23, 5 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I’d still argue that you need in-line attribution per WP:RSOPINION. Would you mind sharing the text from p. 210 of the noon source you added? Anti-ideologue (talk) 12:53, 5 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sure, really, the entire chapter could pretty much be cited, but I was thinking of this text: The hell McVeigh described represented the culmination of decades of white power organizing. McVeigh, trained as a combatant by the state, belonged to the white power movement. Dumuzid (talk) 17:07, 5 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I put a hold on the book from the library because I’m very curious to see the evidence for the claim that McVeigh “belonged to the white power movement”.
Regardless, are you willing to add in-text attribution to this claim per WP:RSOPINION? It would also be good to make the sentence more precise, as its current wording isn’t supported by the SPLC article and neither source describes Terry Nichols as a white supremacist from what I can see.
I know I’m belaboring the point, but this really feels like an effort to retcon the bombing to make the current perceived threat of white supremacy feel more ominous. Toobin’s attempt to connect the bombing to the Jan. 6 riot is a pretty obvious example. Anti-ideologue (talk) 18:30, 5 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Am I willing to attribute? Certainly, if that is the consensus view, but I would still lean toward non-attribution because it strikes me as a widely held view, especially of sources at some remove from the event. As to Nichols, he certainly gets less attention, and you make a decent point there. Belew does say that he participated in "severation . . . a widely used white power and militia movement strategy" and that he "subscribed to several white power publications." She also notes that McVeigh circulated the book Armed and Dangerous: The Rise of the Survivalist Right to Nichols and Fortier when they "expressed doubt or reluctance." She concludes: "having read it and required its reading by his compatriots, McVeigh could not have been ignorant of the white power movement in which he now planned to participate." Dumuzid (talk) 21:51, 5 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Just to be clear: I am another editor who is in favor of the statement being made in wikivoice, rather than with in-text attribution. Also, contrary to the assertion above, RSOPINION does not apply to the added source. Newimpartial (talk) 16:43, 6 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

the death toll of the Tulsa race massacre compared to McVeigh/Nichols bombing[edit]

The Tulsa race massacre occurred in Tulsa, Oklahoma, beginning on May 31, 1921, and lasting for two days. The massacre left somewhere between 30 and 300 people dead, mostly African Americans, and destroyed Tulsa's prosperous Black neighbourhood of Greenwood. The massacre was one of the most severe incidents of racial violence in U.S. history, but it was barely mentioned in history books until the late 1990s, when a state commission was formed to document the incident.... When the massacre ended on June 1, the official death toll was recorded at 10 whites and 26 African Americans, though many experts now believe at least 300 people were killed. The massacre destroyed Tulsa's prosperous Black neighbourhood of Greenwood, known as the “Black Wall Street.” More than 1,400 homes and businesses were burned, and nearly 10,000 people were left homeless. Caj27 (talk) 07:50, 7 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Christian terrorism[edit]

I changed the type of terrorism in the lede from domestic to Christian, and added a reliable source supporting the assertion that the OKC bombing was an act of Christian terrorism due to the perpetrators' ties (possibly indirect and circumstantial, granted, but ties nonetheless) to Christian Identity. Those changes were reverted and I disagree with that decision. Groupthink (talk) 02:32, 23 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It would be helpful if you could briefly summarize your case here -- ("based on sources X, Y, and Z, this appears to be a widely-held view" or the like). And I will not revert you again out of respect, but I would ask that you consider removing the tag until there has been some amount of conversation. Cheers. Dumuzid (talk) 02:58, 23 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I mean a starting objection to just replacing the type of terrorism "domestic" with "Christian Identity" is that the two aren't mutually exclusive. Even if you're right, it'd be both domestic terrorism and Christian Identity terrorism. Also, just glancing at the edit, you were adding contentious labels to the lede and the lede summarizes the body content, so before doing that you should add some discussion of what you wanted added to the body of the article. Having a lede that focuses on Christian identity motivations and then not mentioning it in the body would violate WP:MOS. TulsaPoliticsFan (talk) 03:07, 23 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Need to get some sleep y'all. Will expand more in the morning. Until then, I leave you with [8] the source I cited (which seems pretty self-evident to me) along with [9] ("For this right-wing extremist and Christian Identity follower, the Government’s handling of the siege was illustrative of the 'Zionist Occupied Government' which was intent on suppressing liberty and bringing about a New World Order.") and [10] pg. 31: "McVeigh was exposed to Identity thinking through
the militia culture with which he was associated and through his awareness of the Christian Identity encampment, Elohim City". Groupthink (talk) 03:31, 23 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Most WP:RS including scholarly sources do not call it Christian Terrorism and call it as a Lone wolf attack as Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols acted alone there is no evidence and there is no WP:RS source that states Christian Identity was behind the attack. It is cherrypicking sources to call it so.This is featured article and do not the reviewers would have missed such a big issue.Pharaoh of the Wizards (talk) 06:17, 23 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The page may be missing on Wikipedia as the best fit for the ideology at work here is White Christian nationalism, a very much academically supported term at this point for the intersection of white nationalism and Christian nationalism. In 2022, Stephen M. Feldman stated it as having gone "mainstream". Iskandar323 (talk) 06:39, 23 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
To change the lead to describe this as Christian terrorism you are going to need to show that the common description is Christian terrorism vs anti-government. Two of the three provided sources strike me as unreliable. The last one, if I'm not mistaken is a single sentence taken from a presumably reliable book. But that sentence only says he was exposed to the thinking. It doesn't say he was motivated by it or embraced it. We need much stronger sources to move from a association to motivation. Springee (talk) 11:18, 23 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
We need much stronger sources to move from a association to motivation. - exactly!! I think the source of the issue is that there's an assumption (i.e. WP:SYNTH) being made based on the association for political reasons as opposed to religious. That's an important distinction. ButlerBlog (talk) 13:19, 23 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Richard Snell[edit]

Also missing from the page is that the day of the attack also witnessed the execution of Christian Identity member Richard Snell, who earlier planned to blow up the same building, and whose own page has a whole section on it, along with a note on him requesting to watch CNN as his final request and "smiled and chuckled and nodded" upon seeing coverage of the bombing. All a coincidence? Maybe. A coincidence covered in WP:RS and due here? Very much so. Iskandar323 (talk) 06:19, 23 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]