Oliphant's Anthem: Pat Oliphant at the Library of Congress

On January 10, 1989, House Banking Committee members had their first look at details of the thirty-four thrift transactions arranged by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board (FHLBB) during December 1988. Tax breaks, totaling $8 billion during 1988, were guaranteed to buyers of insolvent institutions, much of it in the form of Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation (FSLIC) notes. House members believed that the FHLBB had engaged in a gigantic giveaway of federal funds that benefitted buyers, who invested little capital in return.

[Destitute S&L please help]. January 13, 1989. Ink and white out on paper. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (19)

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During the 1992 presidential campaign, conservative Republicans led by Senator Jesse Helms targeted federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Pat Buchanan, another conservative who was challenging President George Bush for the Republican presidential nomination, chastised Bush for allowing the NEA to fund "pornographic art" and called the endowment "the upholstered playpen of the arts and crafts auxiliary of the Eastern liberal establishment." The White House forced John Frohnmayer, chairman of the NEA, to resign on February 29. Republican members of Congress attempted to eliminate these programs from the federal budget in 1992.

[Jesse Helms attacks cultural funding]. March 6, 1992. Ink and white out over pencil on layered paper. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (26)

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The Justice Department agreed to censure the acting deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Larry A. Potts, for managerial failures during a 1992 siege of a white supremacist's cabin in Idaho which resulted in three deaths. The censure, the mildest of disciplinary actions, had been recommended by FBI Director Louis J. Freeh, who had reprimanded twelve FBI agents and suspended and reassigned two field commanders in January 1995 for their participation in the raid on Randall C. Weaver's cabin. On February 9, PBS'sFrontline aired a documentary, "The Secret File on J. Edgar Hoover," that included a segment about J. Edgar Hoover's alleged cross-dressing.

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Oliphant used the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous words from the civil rights era to underscore, with great irony, what he believed to be a travesty of justice, the jury acquittal on April 29, 1992, of four white Los Angeles police officers accused of beating black motorist Rodney G. King in March 1991. In the wake of riots that ensued in the South-Central district of Los Angeles, in which fifty-eight people were killed and $1 billion of damage was done, President George Bush said, "The jury system has worked. What's needed now is calm, respect for the law." The riots focused the country's attention on continuing inequities and tension between blacks and whites in the United States.

[Free at last!]. April 30, 1992. Ink and white out over pencil on paper. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (28)

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After weeks of publicly reported discussions between the executive branch and military leadership, President Clinton announced on July 19, 1993, that homosexuals could serve in the armed forces provided they were discreet about their sexual orientation, thus modifying a fifty-year-old unqualified ban on homosexuals in the military. Commanders were forbidden to investigate service people for homosexual behavior on suspicion or hearsay alone. However, personnel could be discharged if such behavior were proved. The administration described the policy as "Don't ask, don't tell."

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The trial of twenty-four-year-old Ecuadoran native Lorena Bobbitt for cutting off her husband's penis in June 1993 ran through December and January, ending with her acquittal by reason of insanity on January 21, 1994. A jury in Manassas, Virginia, and a rapt worldwide audience, listened to the young woman's account of sexual abuse by her husband, culminating in the alleged marital rape that led her to retaliate. Reactions to both the cutting and the verdict were often split along gender lines and spurred a national debate on domestic violence. Some men's groups argued that an acquittal of Lorena Bobbitt might encourage other women to perform similar attacks on men.

‘Now, tell the jury what you did with the knife, Mrs. Bobbitt . . . ’ January 12, 1994. Ink and white out over pencil on paper. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (37)

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Timothy McVeigh, arrested and charged with the April 19, 1995, car-bombing attack on a federal office building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was suspected of having links to anti-government militias. McVeigh had been angered by the federal government's attack on the compound of the Branch Davidian cult near Waco, Texas, exactly two years earlier. Officials had taken two suspects into custody, Terry Lynn Nichols and his brother James Nichols, who had links to both McVeigh and militia groups.

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