that cuts a little too close to the bone.rnI do not know what actually happened in Oklahoma City,rnand, in one sense, I hardly care. People die every day. I am sorryrnfor it, but they do. Sometimes hundreds of Americans die inrna plane crash. They are all strangers, and I eat a hearty dinnerrnand go to bed with an unclouded conscience. Thousands ofrnpeople may be slaughtered in Rwanda, and, if pressed, I mayrnmutter a “tsk tsk,” but what are these strangers to me, really?rnWe weep readily over the death of a pet cat, but which of usrnsheds tears for the tens of thousands of babies murdered everyrnday by their own mothers? Anyone who does (unless he is arnsaint) is either a hypocrite or a madman. All this shock and nationalrnmourning was a disgusting mixture of sentimental cantrnand hysterical weakness. If wc needed no other evidence thatrntelevision is an unmitigated evil, we had only to watch thernevening news, as the networks vied with each other in whippingrnup sympathy for dead babies. What kind of a people are we,rnwho can exploit the suffering of children? In the I960’s cynicalrncivil rights leaders put children at the front of their marches,rnand I can foresee a time when political contests will be wagedrnby competing videos, one side flashing pictures of aborted fetuses,rnthe other side showing footage of child abuse and victimsrnof right-wing terrorism.rnThe divisions in American opinion after the April 19 bombingrndo not follow the well-traveled interstate highway routesrnmarked by Republican and Democrat road signs. Many conventionalrnconservatives have been content to ignore the Wacornmassacre and profess shock and anger at the militant groups thernFBI expects to find under their beds, and the most sensiblerncomment on Oklahoma City I have run across came from AlexrnCockburn in The Nation, who points out that it is only on thernfar right that you can find any compassion for the victims atrnWaco.rnThe most obvious divides are probably between the urbansuburbanrnpopulation of the Northeast and the rural-small townrnfolk of the South and West—the Midwest as usual cannotrnmake up its mind which side it is on. People close to the site,rnparticularly the residents of Oklahoma City, are naturally outragedrnby what they see as an attack not so much on the feds asrnon themselves, but in the rest of the West and South, you canrnhear a swelling chorus of angry Americans who are smartrnenough to know that one explosion does not change anything.rnTheir suspicions were immediately aroused by the President’srnclaim that the federal government is not planning to deprive usrnof our constitutional liberties.rnThat, as every liberal knows, is a bare-faced lie. Liberals havernbeen telling us since the beginning of this century that we havernto sacrifice some of our peculiar liberties in order for them tornmake this country more just, humane, and progressive. To be arnreactionary, in this context, was to resist the tide of history, torndefend the individual against the state, families against socialrnagencies, states against the central government. The only argumentrnhas been over whether this “progress” is good or bad, justrnor unjust. Even the constitutional argument has been a sham,rnsince liberals will argue in almost the same breath that thernConstitution is not being violated and that it is a historicalrncuriosity, which long ago lost its relevance. As I have said before,rnthere are honest leftists and honest reactionaries, but therernis no such thing as an honest liberal.rnI t was clear, more than a year before the bombing, thatrnregionalism is reemcrging as a major factor in American polities.rnThe West, as Chilton Williamson has been reporting inrnour pages, is up in arms again over the federal government’srnmany abuses of power. I say “again” not just because of thernSagebrush Rebellion of the late 1970’s, but because the West,rnwherever it happens to be, is almost always angry at the East.rnEven before the Revolution, the Carolina Regulators were atrnwar with the aristocrats in the East, and not long after independence,rnWesterners staged Shays’ Rebellion and the WhiskeyrnRebellion as antigovernment protests. There has never been arntime when the West was not on the point of rebellion, and ifrnthe next revolution has to begin somewhere, it is fitting that thernsymbolic trigger should be pulled in Oklahoma. Oklahoma hasrnalways been an American metaphor. The last great land rushrntook place there, giving the state its earlier identity as the homernof rugged and enterprising homesteaders who thumbed theirrnnoses at Eastern civilization. This was more than half myth,rnsince the Homestead Acts were an early welfare scam designedrnto buy votes and enrich the railroads.rnDuring the Dustbowl, the Okie, his farm foreclosed by thernbank, became the rural victim par excellence. In The Grapes ofrnWrath, John Steinbeck used a family of Okies, the Joads, tornillustrate the helplessness of ordinary Americans under the oppressionrnof the bankers and the government they owned. Butrnfor Steinbeck, the Okie was a symbol, also, of militant resistance,rnand he makes his Preacher Casy into a Christian Joe Hill.rnThis theme of resistance was picked up by a middle-class radicalrnsongwriter named Woody Guthrie, who wrote “Tom Joad”rnas a ballad version of Steinbeck’s novel and an even more militantrnsong on the career of “Prettyboy Floyd the outlaw, Oklahomarnknew him well.” Guthrie concludes his paean to PrettyrnBoy with the verses:rnWell, it’s through this worid I’ve rambled;rnI’ve seen lots of funny men;rnsome will rob you with a six-gun,rnsome with a fountain pen.rnWhen it’s through this worid you’ll ramble,rnand it’s through this world you’ll roam,rnyou won’t never see an outlawrnrob a family of their home.rnGuthrie justified Floyd’s criminal career on two grounds:rnthe grotesque disparity between the very rich and the rest of usrnand the tyranny exercised by the armed hirelings of the rich.rnPrettyboy became a criminal only after he had been antagonizedrnby an arrogant Deputy Sheriff who insulted him and usedrncoarse language in front of his wife: “Pretty Boy grabbed arnlogchain, the deputy grabbed a gun, and in the fight that followed,rnhe laid that deputy down.” He portrays the outlaw asrnanother Robin Hood or Jesse James, who robbed from richrnbankers and gave to the poor: “And many a starving farmer thernsame old story told, how the outlaw paid their mortgage andrnsaved their litrie home.” This is the sort of leftist protest songrnwe used to hear, when there was a left in America.rnBy the 60’s, however, the American leftists had become sornuppermiddleclassified that their primary issues were maintainingrndraft deferments for white suburban college boys, creatingrnrights for college-educated women and interior decorators, andrnenforcing the Sierra Club environmentalism that sends workingrnmen to the unemployment office. If there was a WoodyrnGuthrie of the 60’s and 70’s it was Merie Haggard, the “Okiernfrom Muskogee” (actually Bakersfield, California), a patrioticrn12/CHRONICLESrnrnrn