Trash talk is a normal part of today’s sports culture, but some say a meme surrounding the event that killed 168 people in 1995 at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City has gone too far.
“Some of these kids lost their moms and dads,” said Linda Packard, a Kansas City woman who was visiting the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum on Sunday with her daughter. “They put that up in honor of them.”
The area near Northwest Fifth Street and Harvey Avenue is hallowed ground, where the state’s most horrible moment also serves as a teachable one.
“It’s a pretty tragic event, and I feel like, you know, my kids should know about it and know what it means,” Packard said.
That’s why a meme posted on a college football trash talk page on Facebook is so jarring. The meme shows a destroyed Murrah building with the caption, “Won’t be the first time Oklahoma gets blown out.” The meme was posted shortly after the College Football Playoff selection committee announced that the Oklahoma football team would play the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Orange Bowl; the person who posted the meme also wrote, “Roll Tide,” a phrase used by Alabama fans.
“That is heartbreaking and just unbelievably cruel,” Packard said.
The meme’s words strike John Hopkins to his core.
“It’s really in poor taste that people would do such a thing and post that on the internet,” Hopkins said. “This is nothing to joke about. I mean, there’s people that died here.”
The meme also made its way around the internet last year when the Sooners played Georgia — a football program that plays in the same conference as Alabama, the SEC — in last season’s semifinal game in the Rose Bowl. Appearing two years in a row, Oklahomans are hoping the hurtful meme doesn’t become a mainstay.
“Have a sense of humor and stuff, but not in this case. Not in this case at all,” Packard said.
The meme has been deleted from the Facebook page, but several people have taken screenshots of the original post.
Kari Watkins, executive director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, issued the following statement:
“We are disappointed and frankly disgusted that our story would ever become fodder for a football game. We must do better as a nation. We have reached our privately to the author of the meme and football trash talk Facebook page and have invited them to join us on a walk through of the Memorial to understand the depth of the story of those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever by the OKC bombing. We don’t want to continue to perpetuate this, so we encourage people to stop sharing and viewing the post as it only fuels hate speech on social media.”
An administrator for the Facebook page, a man named Johnny who did not want to give his last name, reached out to KOCO 5 and issued the following statement:
“We can’t control everything someone posts and we’re all not desensitized to the nature of the bombing. The meme wasn’t posted to our standards. We have since removed the post and have banned the member who posted it. We’re trying to get ahead of it because in no way shape or form is a bombing that killed innocent lives is funny.”