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Life Arts    H4'ed 1/2/21

The 1996 Olympic Bombing: The Army of God, the Voice of God, and a Godforsaken World

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Atlanta Olympic Park Bomb Aftermath.
Atlanta Olympic Park Bomb Aftermath.
(Image by Gary Mark Smith, Author: Gary Mark Smith  (1956–)   )
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And the walls came down

All the way to hell

Never saw them when they're standing

Never saw them when they fell

- The Travelling Wilburys, "Tweeter and the Monkey Man"

By the late-90s we must have sensed that the sh*t was hitting the fan. The fire at Waco. The Unabomber envelopes. The downing of Flight 800. The World Trade Center bombing. Blowjobs in the White House. Oklahoma City. Tokyo's subway sarin attack. The Khobar Towers bombing blamed on bin Laden. The ascent of Atlanta's radio jockstrap Sean Hannity to national status on Roger Ailes' newly established Fox News Network. OJ taking off the gloves. Rodney King wondering if we could all just get along. Cruise missiles on Bosnia on the eve of Clinton's impeachment for blowjobs. Distracted from distraction by distraction, as T.S. Eliot famously put it, years before Karl "Turd Blossom" Rove's prosaic promise to f*ck with reality-based thinking in the wake of the 9/11 witch hunt-like hysteria.

As if America didn't have enough problems, a foot soldier in the Army of God was afoot in the wee hours of July 27, 1996 at Centennial Park in Atlanta, where the Olympics were winding up for the night. Eric Rudolph, formerly of the Army of Exceptionalism -- he'd been a special ops soldier in the Airborne 101 -- was strolling near some benches behind the park, wearing a green backpack. There were dozens of people milling about. Rudolph sat on a bench and surreptitiously opened his backpack and set a timer on a huge bomb and placed the pack under the bench, then walked away hurriedly. No one saw him.

Rudolph rushed to a phone bank outside a Days Inn a couple of blocks away from the park and called in the bomb threat to 911. He used a plastic device to disguise his voice, and then, according to Kevin Salwen and Kent Alexander's, co-authors of The Suspect, on which the film is partially based, the following telephone exchanges took place: Rudolph said, "'We defy the order of the militia "' Click. The line went dead. The 911 operator had disconnected him. "Disconcerted at not being taken seriously, Rudolph called back, disguising his voice by pinching his nose, and said: "'There is a bomb in Centennial Park. You have thirty minutes.' He hung up. The call lasted thirteen seconds." Confusion followed, with the 911 operator unable to find the Olympic Park address. Transcripts show insufficient urgency followed:

Dispatcher: Zone 5.

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John Kendall Hawkins is an American ex-pat freelance journalist and poet currently residing in Australia. His poetry, commentary, and reviews have appeared in publications in Oceania, Europe and the USA, such as Cordite, Morning Star, Hanging (more...)
 

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