They're just going out of their way these days to keep a low profile, because McVeigh, in their minds, went too far by planting explosives and killing children, along with government employees.
"Extremist ideology is alive and well in America, but it is another kettle of fish if it evolves into any action," said Bryan Byers, a criminal justice professor at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., just 140 miles from the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., where McVeigh is scheduled to die May 16.
"The short of it is that some may have left the movement in protest over McVeigh's actions," Byers said. "But the hard-core zealots will hang in there for the duration because they believe in the 'cause.' "
That cause, as espoused by McVeigh and others, is the belief that the U.S. government is out of control.
Many of them say the government overtaxes people and tries to regulate areas that are none of its business.
In McVeigh's case, he saw as criminal the April 19, 1993, FBI raid on the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, that resulted in a conflagration that killed many of the religious followers of Davidian leader David Koresh.
McVeigh's bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building came two years later, to the day, and was meant as retribution for Waco.
On the Internet site FreeRepublic, a forum for conservative viewpoints, many people have expressed their own thoughts on McVeigh.
"It was predictable that someone, somewhere, would demonstrate an objection against the blatant violation of civil rights embodied in those actions against the American people," one person wrote, adding that McVeigh's execution "only extends and compounds the tragedy."
"It is sickening to watch as the victims of Oklahoma City gleefully wait to see the McVeigh death," the unidentified writer said.
Other people referred to McVeigh as "a modern-day Paul Revere" and as "a soldier," with the latter saying that on the day of the execution, "I will stand and salute him."
Even those critical of McVeigh are not concerned as much with his actions in Oklahoma City as with the backlash public attention to the bombing has created. Some said the bombing increased support for Bill Clinton, resulting in his 1996 presidential re-election.
It's not just the anonymous who are critical. In a column published in Backwoods Home magazine, writer Dave Duffy said McVeigh and the federal agents involved with Waco were comparable.
"We accept the fact that Timothy McVeigh is a murderer and we sympathize with the victims' families," he wrote. "But we also understand that our government's agents killed 76 people at Waco.
"You'd think no one died at Waco, or that there were no dead children there, or that there is no connection between the two events," he wrote.
Also critical is Illinois Taxpayer Education Foundation, a group affiliated with the anti-tax National Taxpayers Foundation, which published an essay last week accusing the federal government, particularly the FBI, of engaging in a cover-up of what happened in Waco.
"For years, the FBI thugs and their superiors denied contributing to the deaths of 76 Branch Davidians … resulting from the military-type raid that ended the 51-day siege by the bureau," foundation Director Dennis Constant said. "The feds almost got away with it."
Government officials publicly downplay such talk. Many government buildings, however, are under increased security in recent days as officials fear someone might try to stage a bombing or another type of attack in protest of McVeigh's coming execution.
In Chicago, security was tightened so much even judges could not enter the courthouse without submitting to a search by sheriff's deputies.
Byers said it is deliberate that support for McVeigh comes out in bits and pieces and in rather isolated forums.
"Patriots and militias pride themselves on stealth and what they call 'leaderless' resistance," he said. "This pertains to their belief that small cells of true American patriots can respond to the coming crisis when it is time for them to overthrow the government and respond to the 'New World Order.' "
So come May 16, many people throughout the United States will breathe a sigh of relief in the moments after McVeigh is pronounced dead.
But some others will agree with Duffy that a "double standard" exists.
"The lone terrorist dies, while the government terrorists go free," he said.
Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.
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