Columbine: intended to be 9-11

This Slate story on the Columbine shooting reveals details I had not previously known:

But Harris and Klebold planned for a year and dreamed much bigger. The school served as means to a grander end, to terrorize the entire nation by attacking a symbol of American life. Their slaughter was aimed at students and teachers, but it was not motivated by resentment of them in particular. Students and teachers were just convenient quarry, what Timothy McVeigh described as "collateral damage."

The killers, in fact, laughed at petty school shooters. They bragged about dwarfing the carnage of the Oklahoma City bombing and originally scheduled their bloody performance for its anniversary. Klebold boasted on video about inflicting "the most deaths in U.S. history." Columbine was intended not primarily as a shooting at all, but as a bombing on a massive scale. If they hadn't been so bad at wiring the timers, the propane bombs they set in the cafeteria would have wiped out 600 people. After those bombs went off, they planned to gun down fleeing survivors. An explosive third act would follow, when their cars, packed with still more bombs, would rip through still more crowds, presumably of survivors, rescue workers, and reporters. The climax would be captured on live television. It wasn't just "fame" they were after�Agent Fuselier bristles at that trivializing term�they were gunning for devastating infamy on the historical scale of an Attila the Hun. Their vision was to create a nightmare so devastating and apocalyptic that the entire world would shudder at their power.

Harris and Klebold would have been dismayed that Columbine was dubbed the "worst school shooting in American history." They set their sights on eclipsing the world's greatest mass murderers, but the media never saw past the choice of venue. The school setting drove analysis in precisely the wrong direction.

The revelations above about what the Clombine psychos really were planning puts the enitre event in a different context. Rather than the paranoid persecution fantasies of Timothy McVeigh and the militia movement, or even the social subculture-rebellion of school shootings, what Kliebold and Harris were after was terrorism on the scale of 9-11.

Unlike Osama bin Laden, they weren't after a political message, they were after a media one. The infamy they would have had would have been for narcissistic purposes, as opposed to the religious ones of the 9-11 hijackers.

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