The man killed, Bobby Fassnacht♠ was a wonderful human being, a loving father, and a scientist with an inquiring mind. His death was a loss to his immediate family, his relatives and his friends.
From the Althouse Blog is a link to this editorial from the Wisconsin State Journal the day after the bombing and reproduced this week by the same newspaper.
Sadly, we still have not drawn a unified conclusion from this incident. Going back to the Althouse Blog we have this link to a column by a Ms Ruth Conniff, who tells how her Mother, a peace activist at the time, was so shocked by the action. Ms Conniff then came forward to today and talked about what she sees as the intolerance of the protests against the Islamic Cultural Center near "Ground Zero".
In contrast there are those who wonder why people who encouraged these violent acts in the late 1960s and in 1970 are so closely associated with the current administration, with names like Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn and Jeff Jones.
Not all are repentant. Here is a 1986 quote from bomber Karleton Armstrong, from an interview in The Milwakee Journal
"I still feel we can't rationalize someone getting killed, but at that time we felt we should never have done the bombing at all. Now I don't feel that way. I feel it was justified and should have been done. It just should have been done more responsibly."And how does one bomb responsibly? I have dropped a lot of bombs on targets in combat and the fact is that it is an act of violence. One works to do it responsibly, but even in combat there is collateral damage. To conduct bombings in one's own country is to invite the inevitable death and injury to the innocent, to the uninvolved. To talk about "more responsibly" is to talk nonsense.
As to punishment of the guilty? Here is the paragraph from Wikipedia:
Investigators believe that four people were involved in the bombing: brothers Karleton Armstrong and Dwight Armstrong, and accomplices David Fine and Leo Burt. The Armstrongs and Fine served jail time, a combined total of 12 years, and were subsequently paroled. Burt has never been found.The University of Wisconsin is trying to capture the history and impact of this event at the personal level and thus this week there is a booth in the Memorial Library this week for recording one's own oral history of the time. This is part of the University's History Department Oral History program.
What do we know 40 years on? The loss was tragic. The general issues that inspired the terrorists (that is what we would call them today) remain. Those who think we are doing what we have to do as a nation are still angry at this kind of act. Those who just want to keep their heads down and get on with life still want to keep their heads down and get on with life. Which is why a small group can have such a disproportionate impact.
Regards — Cliff
♠ The link to the Wikipedia article misses the fact that the widow, Stephanie, took her three children and went to Denmark for a while after the bombing. At the time of the bombing my wife (Bobby was my wife's cousin) and I had been back in the States just a couple of weeks and we asked ourselves if we would have been safer if we had stayed in Germany. This was before the "Red Army Faction" began its own terror campaign in the Federal Republic of Germany.