THE BLOG
12/17/2012 04:12 pm ET Updated Feb 16, 2013

America's Worst School Massacre Took Place Decades Before Mike Huckabee Was Born

Mike Huckabee seems to think America's latest school massacre is the fault of a godless culture: "We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools," Huckabee said on Fox News. "Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?"

Like many GOP ideologues who use tragedy to advance their agendas, he doesn't know his American history. American schools were being targeted as far back as May 18th, 1927, when our worst school massacre took place. The site was bucolic Bath, Michigan, not far from the state capital of Lansing.

The toll was 45 killed, 58 wounded, and the target was the small farming town's new consolidated school building. Arnie Bernstein relates the grim story in Bath Massacre, following the decades-old trail of suicide bomber Andrew Kehoe. In his forties, this oddball farmer had creepy interactions with his neighbors, but there was nothing deeply, obviously weird about Kehoe. In the end, he proved to be that American cliché: the kind of man you'd never expect to go criminally berserk.

He was an expert with dynamite and pyrotol for blowing up tree stumps, and also enjoyed using explosives to celebrate Independence Day. Because he'd been hired to do work on the Bath school's plumbing and electrical system, he had an intimate knowledge of the building which helped him place his dynamite, wiring, and dynamite caps.

On that May 18th morning, half of the solidly built new school blew up with several hundred children inside. Kehoe had rigged the building with 600 pounds of dynamite, only 100 of which blew up, but that was more than enough to create horror and devastation out of a war zone. He also blew up his entire property after apparently murdering his wife. And then he drove his shrapnel-filled truck to the bombed-out school and blew that up, too, killing several people, including the school superintendent.

Why did he do it? Nobody knows, though it's possible he'd suffered a serious brain injury at some point in his life. The mystery surrounding a mass killer like that hasn't changed, but at least back in the 1920s, nobody had the gall to trump up nonsense about "Godlessness" being to blame.

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