All Branch Davidians Now
by Anthony Gregory: Noninterventionism:
Cornerstone of a Free Society
ago, just outside Waco, Texas, the FBI demonstrated once again that
the state at its core is a killing machine. Monarchy, democracy,
or republic – any government as conventionally defined is a legal
monopoly on violence. The state is always inclined toward oppression,
division, conquest, and bloodshed, because these are its tools of
no different here. The myth of a free America was always seen with
bitter irony by those not blessed by such freedom. In the founding
generation, as half a million labored in slavery, many who fought
in the Revolution genuinely believed in liberty, but for the ruling
elite who chided them on, liberty was hardly more than a slogan.
This has always been true of our political leaders. The Father of
the Country was a centralizing slaveowner. Old Hickory talked up
freedom as he threatened war on South Carolina and forced the Cherokee
to flee from their ancestral land on a barbarously murderous walk
of shame. The Great Emancipator turned America into a military dictatorship
and abolished the revolutionary right of secession. Wilson’s New
Freedom was cover for a Prussianized war machine generating revenue
for his profiteering buddies on Wall Street. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms
failed to include the freedom not to be drafted or interned in a
concentration camp. Ronald Reagan threw the word freedom
around as he trained Latin American torturers and raped the Bill
of Rights in the name of fighting drugs. The United States has never
lived up to its rhetoric.
But the events
from February 28 through April 19, 1993, still stand out in my mind
as a watershed. It was the post-Cold War regime’s coming of age,
signifying a major event in cultural history.
about Operation Showtime was brazen, and it seemed like an overreach
even by some of the government’s establishment defenders. Yet today
Washington’s fixers must look back at these embarrassments as a
hiccup at most, as growing pains on the way to establishing a militarized
law-and-order apparatus of nearly unlimited power. That this stepping
stone was reached on the eve of the Internet era, right before the
old media began its decline in influence, was most convenient for
the police state and its solidification.
against the Branch Davidians was perfectly tuned to appeal to the
masses, each adjustment in frequency coming just in time to keep
the people listening. Religious fanatics with a meth lab, armed
and dangerous, abusing their children – few wanted to stand up for
these people during the siege. Even fewer wished to identify the
Davidian response to the original raid for what it was: self-defense.
The Davidians fired on the ATF so long as the ATF fired upon the
Davidians, and when the ATF ran out of ammo, the Davidians held
their fire. The government’s officials were the aggressors. What
followed were fifty-one days of psychological warfare designed to
isolate the Davidians – from water, from food, from the press, their
lawyers and family – and break them down like any wartime enemy.
was the standoff that eventually even the mainstream media began
asking questions. A New York Times exposé on March
28 raised all sorts of troubling issues, which only multiplied in
the days that followed. Federal agents said that supervisors had
known they had lost the element of surprise, but decided to go ahead
with the February 28 raid anyway. Agents were reportedly unhappy
with their equipment and communication methods. The poor planning
and lack of contingency options were exposed. No medical assistance
had been prepared for the ATF's raid. Reports emerged that some
of the ATF agents had injured or killed one another in friendly
fire. There were hints that other agents might have even been captured
and let go by the Davidians. The ATF intelligence chief stopped
holding press conferences as the heat continued to mount.
On April 19,
tired from the boredom and bad publicity of just standing around
outside the "compound," the FBI drove a tank through the
Davidians’ home, pumped it full of CS gas, launched incendiary devices
at the building, and watched it go up in flames. As soon as the
stakes became higher, as soon as questioning the feds meant implying
they had committed mass murder, the media stopped barking defiantly
and jumped back to the government’s lap.
home of America’s center-left, oversaw this exceedingly important
event in the development of the police state. Unsurprisingly, every
respectable liberal defended the government and believed Clinton’s
people when they demonized the Davidians. The entire respectable
right went along with the bloodletting, too. Why wouldn’t they?
It was a raid planned by George H.W. Bush’s ATF, carried out by
the Clintonistas, and ultimately rubberstamped by the Republicans
in Congress, and so everyone could get behind it. Some libertarians
wavered, including Randians and other proponents of violent national
secularism, and much of the radical left went limp too.
City incident two years later was spun by the media as an example
of anti-government extremism somehow being a greater threat than
the government itself. It became increasingly un-PC to bring up
what had happened in Texas. The election of Dubya and 9/11 washed
away the paranoid anti-statist instincts of much of the Clinton-hating
the raid’s planning to the cover-up and show trials, taught the
U.S. government what it could get away with – which is to say, practically
anything. It can gas innocent children with internationally banned
chemicals. It can hoist a federal flag atop a torched American home,
claim victory, and see its public image improve. It can throw grenades
at people trying to escape a building and claim they are being held
hostage. In the name of protecting these "hostages" and
children, it can watch as they burn and keep the firefighters away.
And the massacre will be tolerated, even applauded.
Dozens of people
of color died at the hands of the federal government, and the official
Civil Rights movement hardly spoke up. Dozens of people were targeted
for their religion, and it hardly bothered many of the very conservatives
who allege a war on religion waged by DC. The largest federal-military
killing of civilians on U.S. soil in a century has now become one
more notch on the progressive left’s timeline of major events in
anti-government extremism, as opposed to a principal example of
government extremism where a tiny minority community was virtually
1993 the Davidians were only the most conspicuous and recent example
in America’s long history of the demonized Other, the marginalized
underclass in the official hierarchy of human worth. Slaves, Indians,
Mexicans, Southerners, Catholics, Irish and German-Americans, Chinese
immigrants, Japanese-Americans, Mormons, homosexuals, alleged Communists,
rightwing extremists, and many others have played the role, often
for their imagined association with the wartime enemy, but always
for being out of step with the government’s accepted definition
of legitimate humanity. Many look back at incidents of intolerance
with disbelief that Americans could be so blind to oppression. Yet
when the topic of Waco comes up, they will think only of those nutcases
who, according to the government and media, attacked federal agents
and then killed themselves.
In the nineteen
years since Waco, we have seen the police state explode in every
direction and now we are all ensnared. Some groups are always more
threatened than others, but no one is truly safe. The prisons have
swollen to the largest detention system since Stalin’s gulags. The
police conduct three thousand SWAT raids a month. The war on terror
has made a total mockery of what remained of the Fourth Amendment.
Torture has lost its taboo. So has indefinite detention. The feds
irradiate and molest airline passengers by the millions. People
are jailed for taking medicine, buying Sudafed, sharing songs, and
selling milk. The Kafkaesque regulatory state threatens people of
all economic classes with crushing fines and a fate in a cage. The
public schools, always authoritarian institutions, have become explicit
adjuncts of the criminal justice system and military recruitment
offices. Every major police department has tanks and battle rifles
and drones are being used for surveillance and God knows what else.
Each federal department has enough firepower to conquer a small
third-world country. DHS alone has ordered enough ammo to shoot
every American man, woman, and child. The president claims the right
to kill American citizens anywhere on the planet on his say-so alone.
And he exercises that power.
Why do some
of us continue
to fixate on Waco? If for no other reason, because April 19,
1993 was a squandered opportunity if ever there was one. The people
could have risen up and said, "Enough!" They could
have demanded the military occupation retreat from their own neighborhoods
– both the federal presence and its satellite jackboots in the city
police. They could have demanded an end to the gun laws, drug war,
and federal war on crime, each of which was instrumental in ending
the lives of more than twenty children at Waco. They could have
turned against the media whose elites stood and applauded the White
House as it announced and defended its latest killing spree. They
could have seen the federal government for the clear and present
danger it obviously poses – the only government that had militarily
mass murdered American civilians on American soil since the collateral
damage at Pearl Harbor. They could have turned their backs on the
killers in DC, refusing ever to believe in their lies again, saving
the lives of uncountable Americans, Serbians, Afghans, Iraqis, Libyans,
Yemenis, Palestinians, and so many others who would bear the wrath
of an unhampered imperial executive in the nineteen years to come,
sparing the priceless liberties we have seen shredded on the altar
of state power.
looked the other way, they yawned, even cheered. There might still
be time to turn things around. But the tanks are closing in.
Gregory [send him mail]
is research editor at the Independent
lives in Oakland, California. See his
webpage for more articles and personal information.
© 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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