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Steve Lackmeyer: A heart-to-heart talk with the people of Sweden

by Steve Lackmeyer Published: July 26, 2011

Furvik is obviously looking to Oklahoma City as a guide on the potential fallout of the attack in Norway. She came to the interview with the perspective that McVeigh's slaughter somehow changed Oklahoma City; that it created security measures that turned government into an unapproachable entity, that it divided us and made us less trustful of our government.

The questions were upsetting. They assumed that people hate our government and that McVeigh somehow succeeded creating a post-1995 America at war with itself. Did this reporter not know of Oklahoma's reputation for being one of the friendliest places in America? Did she not know about the “Oklahoma standard,” how McVeigh's murders drew us closer, regardless of status, income, race or religion?

She treated the alleged killer in Norway as some sort of a political warrior, right or wrong in his objectives, and described McVeigh in the same terms. I objected in the strongest terms. These guys weren't political conservatives. They weren't Christians. They're murderers. They lost all respect for life. They forgot the beauty in an infant's smile, the inspiration of a teenager brimming with hope for the future, the industriousness of a young adult, the brilliant pragmatism of a parent, and the wisdom of an elder.

When I was asked for the interview, I was told it would be about how downtown has changed since the bombing. Had I known of the questions to be asked, I would have said no. It would be too painful. I lose sleep whenever I get emotionally engaged on the bombing.

But that night I slept. I told the citizens of Sweden that their neighbors will have some painful times ahead, that the pain may never fully go away. But if Oklahoma City has anything to tell the rest of the world, it's this: guns and bombs can never conquer the human heart.

by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's Metropolitan...
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