No hero

Eric Rudolph, the murderous antiabortion zealot who set off bombs at the US Olympics in 1996 and a women’s health clinic in Birmingham, killing two, is no folk hero. Yet a website posting his rambling account of the five years he spent on the run is being hailed as outlaw literature by extremists who would take anyone’s side against the government.

There is certainly nothing heroic in the five years Rudolph spent scurrying rodent-like through the hills of North Carolina, eating from grain silos and dumpsters. Yet supporters thrill to his account of living “right under the noses of the 200 FBI agents who were looking for me.” A potent stew of antiabortion, antigovernment, and anti-Semitic militancy fuels this twisted admiration. Rudolph’s journal appears on the website of the Army of God, a shadowy hate group that calls itself Christian but is anything but. In addition to the standard fare of gruesome pictures of aborted foetuses and attacks on homosexuals, it carries the biographies of “antiabortion heroes.”

Experts think Rudolph’s arrest and confession in April mark an ebbing of the right-wing militia movements that crested with the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. But the excitable adherents to Rudolph’s 5,000-word dispatch are a reminder that domestic terror still threatens an open, tolerant America. —The Boston Globe