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Why does the left ignore Waco?
June 19, 2000 10:56 AM   Subscribe

Why does the left ignore Waco? I remember watching Waco burn on tv and being totally radicalized by it. Believing I was experiencing holy truth, I was of course shocked to find alot of people thought they had it coming. This link proposes things I had not considered.
posted by thirteen (27 comments total)

 
Y'ever heard Bill Hicks on this one? Go to www.darktimes.com and check it out. Bill and I, as is often the case, are in complete agreement on this one. Y'know, I have a hard time understanding how tanks shooting fire into the compound...and don't tell me they didn't do that, 'cause I've seen the unedited tape...was supposed to convince these people to surrender.

From 93 to 98, the FBI swore up and down that it never happened. Then in 99, suddenly they remembered that it did. Hmm. Now what are we supposed to take from all this? I don't know, but I'm fairly certain I don't want to find out.
posted by Ezrael at 11:52 AM on June 19, 2000


I've often wondered the same thing the original article's author does: where's the outrage? It's mentioned in the article, although not as prominently as the "can't throw stones at our only recent Democratic president" theory, but it seems to me class has something to with it: if this had been an urban, minority group, the Left would be all over it. Instead, it's a rural, (pardon me) "redneck" group, so the Left doesn't feel it warrants their attention - Koresh is a straight white guy, he doesn't need our help.
posted by m.polo at 12:03 PM on June 19, 2000


i was working in television at the time and visited the compound a few days prior to it's burning...i have some details about my visit as well as some pictures of the press compound if anyone is interested...

click here

it is interesting the way the press presents themselves as professional and authoritative when behind the scenes they are quite flippant...there was a summer camp atmosphere there...
posted by centrs at 12:53 PM on June 19, 2000


Ezrael, I think the Bill Hicks site you were aiming for is actually here.
posted by wiremommy at 1:54 PM on June 19, 2000


Do you remember where you were the day the Branch Davidians died? I do. I had recently been 'promoted' (i.e. drafted) to the position of producer for a talk radio show hosted by Ron Engelman. Producer is a fancy word for gopher in the talk radio industry.

Few people remember that name now, but at one point the Branch Davidians had hanging out of their window a sheet with what appeared to be shoe polish written out which asked for Ron Engelman and the doctors that Engelman was demanding be allowed into the complex.

Oh, excuse me... compound. *smirk* The Davidians were apparently listening to Ron's show.

That late spring day we were watching the place burn on monitors that we kept around. KGBS was also supposed to be a CNN radio affiliate at the time. I think we just finished up Engelman's show. He went back on and made an annoucement. It was then I knew he had more than a passing interest in what happened. He had an alterior motive. He was hoping from the vantage point of a radio personality he could get to the truth of some things. Unfortunately our superiors didn't really care much about truth.

The owner of the station and a few others wanted Engelman quieted, cuz he was 'attracting an unsettling element.' The commercial value of the leftist weirdo demographic has never been properly measured, apparently.

Engelman resigned on the air less than a month later, KGBS was turned into a poor equivalent of the Home Shopping Network until it got bought out again, and they simply stopped paying me so eventually I stopped showing up to work. I didn't care much about truth. All I wanted was a paycheck. Couldn't even get that.

But the reason many people who claim to be liberals ignore Koresh and his followers (and believe me he still has followers) is because he was not some cleancut hero wronged. He was a fugitive from the law of this land. There are no good guys in the Waco Siege. Granted, Koresh hid behind his religious freedoms to commit the crimes he did, like statutory rape and illegal possession of firearms. In his twisted view of reality and spirituality he was completely in the right, but that does not justify those acts and anyone who supports him immediately looks as sociopathic as he was.

The ATF, FBI and by proxy the entire American gov't royally screwed the pooch. They had ample opportunity to quietly take Koresh in the rare times he was away from his complex. He'd go into town for supplies and they were watching him like a hawk. They wanted it all or nothing, so they attacked him on his own turf: property which he allegedly owned and claimed was not held under the jurisdiction of American laws. They wanted a standoff. They wanted to make a point and use Koresh as an example for other extremists out there who might try to go up against Lady Liberty.

This is not a democracy. It is a republic. This is not true freedom. True freedom is anarchy. We exist in an illusion of freedom. Personally, I can tolerate that. Some people can't.

Why does anyone ignore the Waco Siege? Because we as a People do not like to admit that there have been no true heroes in this country since the JFK assassination. Since Vietnam. Since women burned bras and men burned draft cards. Since we learned our gov't puts more value on oil and gas than it does blood.

Do you remember where you were the day the Branch Davidians died? I do. And I have drunk my share of vodka trying to forget.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:54 PM on June 19, 2000


I have also seen the unedited tapes. The FBI murdered American citizens, including children. There is absolutely no doubt about it. And until I learned more about it, I too thought "that was that weird cult group." In other words, I didn't think. I responded to media justifications.

Would there have been more of a media outcry if this had happened under a Republican president? Or if the victims had been black, or Native American? Probably so.

Though black and native Americans are shot and jailed every day and it rarely makes the news.
posted by Zeldman at 2:49 PM on June 19, 2000


if outrage over the firebombing of american citizens is right, i don't wanna be left.

I think "left" and "right" are fairly worthless labels when used in anything other than a generalization---individuals are not political platforms. If I had to pick one of two sides, mine would be left, but I am horrified that such a thing could happen to *any* group of Americans. even ones crazy on religion. :>

This alleged inconsistency brings to mind that with which The Right was faced in the whole Elian raid situation: to generalize, these are the very people who scream so much about family values this and parental control that, but they were too busy foaming at the mouth about Communist Cuba and about use of extreme force in the boy's recovery to remember that.

Like the Elian thing, Waco is a very thorny and tangled issue... could the reason none of The Left stood up and trumpted to the world the injustice of Waco, and the reason none of The Right stood up and said "That boy needs to be with his father even if the man is as red as they come", simply be that both situations were just too complicated to reduce to five-second sound bites that would clearly and easily and without qualification support their larger political goals?

I find that a hell of a lot more likely than "lefties hate rednecks and that's why they're all glad the Branch Davidians bought it".

Issues can be complicated. People's opinions can be complicated. Dividing up a country of 250 million diverse individuals into two teams is as simple and simple-minded as it gets. But those are the terms in which the evening news is fed to us, and in the media frenzies that surrounded both Waco and Elian, it would have been just too distracting to go into the many issues both events brought up.

... to sum, I am tired to *death* of hearing what The Left and The Right are up to. They don't exist in the real world---it's a sloppy and artificial conceit perpetuated by the media and by the political establishment, which has much to lose on both sides of the aisle by embracing the individual. This wasn't a story about opinions, of the sort held by real people---it was a story about the opinions of pundits about the opinions of these two great vague lumps of the citizenry... where's the beef?!

heh, I could take this whole rant further and bitch about how John McCain was the most electable presidential candidate the US had seen in *years* but that that which made him so appealing to *individual* voters made him a pariah in his own party... but I will stop while I'm still sort of on topic :>

vote Libertarian. it's good for you, and it's good for the nation. that will be all.
posted by Sapphireblue at 4:04 PM on June 19, 2000


The jist of the article is that the left should care. I found the facts and specific points of the story interesting, but I have yet to see anyone mention an undercurrent I have mulled over for years. The stereotypical view of the right is crazed loners, small groups like militia's, I will not disagree. My stereotypical view of the left is that it is a collective that eventually has to kill those who disagree. I often hear people refer to the right as fascist, when my understanding is that fascism is a socialist collective form of government and therefore leftist in nature. Socialism is the opposite of anarchy and thus the farthest we can get from freedom. The Nazi's were national socialists. The government took over production and ran the country according to the rules of extreme leftism. I am sure to get burned a bit for proposing this, and I would like to know what people think. The extreme right is a fragmented group of loners, something like the unabomber. The Unabomber being so far out there that he exists at the point where right and left come together. The extreme left is a conform or die collective like the Nazi's or Stalin's Russia.
We are sort of free in the US, but we cannot succeed from the union, or opt out of paying our taxes and taking a pass on the services the taxes provide. What are we free to do?
The day Waco burned I saw the ex-hippie president send tanks to kill my fellow citizens. The tanks were blaring that their actions should not be considered an assault. I don't know why anyone would not care about that. I do not know what excuse is good enough to dismiss what I saw. The people are dead, and cannot confirm the crimes Koresh was accused of. The supposed victims of his crimes are dead too, killed by the people who claimed to be there to help them. I think the left does not care, because there is a shadow cast over them from the extreme end of their beliefs that makes them think that if the Davidian went with the flow, none of this would be happening. Maybe even a little anger that they have to feel bad about the mess caused by the disobedience. Before you all get your knives out, know that I have equal dislike of both ends of the political spectrum. I have no idea how a Republican president would have handled the situation. I voted Libertarian in the election that proceeded these events, which shows you where my politics lie. I wonder what na Lbertarian president would have done with Koresh?
posted by thirteen at 4:44 PM on June 19, 2000


My thoughts come off a little rough compared with Ms. Blue's. I do not want to sully everyone who is left of center. I am just trying to sort and define my own ideas about extremism. To hear some people tell it the left can do no wrong. This is irritating to me, especially when Hitler comes into play. I want so much for people to agree and want the same things without threats. Elian does belong with his father, the government should not have done what they did at Waco. My words and grammar are crude, I am sorry.
posted by thirteen at 5:04 PM on June 19, 2000


Fascism is neither right nor left. The definition: "A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism."

Recent history has seen many fascist elements gain power by masquerading as communist, socialist, or other "leftist" forms of government-- why? Well, because most people's inclination is toward a somewhat socialist government. Polls usually show that a majority of people want (at least in theory) universal nationalized health care, welfare for people in need, homeless shelters, and other socialist government programs. So what better mask for a tyrant to wear than the socialist ideals that most people embrace?

You're not the only one to make that mistake, thirteen. I think it's because political reporting and rhetoric have become drastically simplified and estranged from reality. Think back to the forties... Roosevelt's New Deal was somewhat socialist-- and he managed to get widespread support for it, even in the shadow of World War II, after demonizing Germany's National Socialist Party! Yet now people hear "socialist" and immediately think of Hitler, a fascist totalitarian who took power using a mask of socialism.

As for anarchy-- a nice theory, but how do you make an appointment with an anarchist doctor? If your ex-husband stalks and threatens you, how do you get help from the anarchist police?

Vote Libertarian? Sapphire, I think you misspelled "Green". ^_^
posted by wiremommy at 5:23 PM on June 19, 2000


I think we *both* misspelled "any bastards but the bastards we've got". heh.
posted by Sapphireblue at 6:53 PM on June 19, 2000


one of the key ingredients of this tragedy, is the ability of the government to control and manipulate the dialog that occurred from the start of the raid until quite a long time after mount carmel was incinerated. they were successfull in portraying the davidians as wackos, koresh as the leader of a dangerous messianic leader. and you've got dead goverment agents. video of the government agents getting shot. it made it very easy to marginalize dissenting voices.

the same sort of propaganda (on a smaller scale) is trotted out every day. the vile and evil terrorist-child pornographer-druguser-hacker seems to be the scourge of modern life.








posted by lescour at 8:33 PM on June 19, 2000


Are you seriously saying the left is not capable of evil? I think any man is capable of being turned by power. My fear, and point, is that we give greater control of our lives to left-leaning governments. If we let them "give us" universal health care, they can decide things for us. The right is "colder" to us, but it cannot control us. We create the wealth that the government uses; they cannot give us anything that they have not taken from someone. If we, as individuals, can avoid laziness we can provide for ourselves and not be a burden on anyone else. Even if you don't mind the burden, I do and will shrug it off if I can. There is the problem of what to do with the people who will not play ball, they can ruin the whole thing for everybody. It would seem to be easier to get rid of them... for the greater good. People often point to Waco to prove that we do not need guns because we are powerless against the superior weaponry of the government but the government's army is made up of our sons and daughters. The country needs a government to handle administrative tasks, maintain an army, etc. but we should keep it whipped and tired. It is supposed to serve us, not the other way around. The government could not suppress us en mass, we are so well armed we citizens could take down the power almost instantly if united and willing.

There have been a few Metafilter conversations about American culture contaminating the rest of the world, forcing our ways on other people. Is this an example of isolationist conservatives or a large government providing what is best for the people at home? Why do other countries hate us so? Either because we leave them alone, or because we meddle. I despise representational government, I long for a true democracy in which every one of us would vote on every issue. I keep saying right, but that is only to differentiate from the left.

You are forgetting that Hitler provided a socialist government, and did well with the people who were not marked for death. He fed the people, gave them health care and jobs, sent them off to war and killed a bunch of innocents. Thinking back to the 40's and FDR, I see a man who (we were not even told) could not walk. Any president will enjoy favorable ratings in wartime, it is one of the perks of war. Milosevic, a RIGHT leaning bastard, enjoyed the same kind of boost when we were bombing him silly. And why were we bombing him silly? The left leaning president wanted us to. We had no reason to go to war. We should get to vote on more issues, I would have voted not to go to war. I think FDR was a terrible man, who intentionally violated the constitution and acted like a king. He created entitlements left and right, and we are going to be crushed underneath this pyramid scheme of social security. I have no choice but to participate in these plans, they take my money before it gets to me. Imagine if we were all paid in cash every week, and you had to hand over the difference between your gross and net to the taxman. Then take a poll and see who wants to socialize anything. We'd all be standing around talking like characters in Atlas Shrugged.

It's a chestnut, but Hitler was a gun banning, anti-smoking, vegetarian, animal loving, artfuck. How could anyone mistake this fella for Barry Goldwater? Like I said before, anyone can be evil, let's not fool ourselves into thinking the left has the higher ground.
posted by thirteen at 10:49 PM on June 19, 2000


(Wiremommy, thanks for correcting my gaffe.)

Well, defining Hitler as a socialist is like defining Stalin as a Communist; misleading. National Socialist Democratic Workers Party (NSDAP, in German) was just a catchy name to get the shmucks pulling his way.

Humanity is a gestalt critter which goes to extremes. What happened at Waco, at Ruby Ridge et al is tragic overreaction on the part of the Federal Agents, yessir. But it isn't a question of 'right' or 'left' really. It's all about control, who has it, who wants it, what will they do to get it, etc. While I decry that these tragedies happened, the fact is, they had little to do with 'liberal' or 'conservative' views. (Hell, I'd argue that Clinton is a centrist, and whoever wins the election, if it is the Democrat or the Republican, it will be another centrist. They have to be, to win.)

It's power and control. It's all about winning. Hell, the Branch Davidian compound is actually several miles outside of Waco! But it made for a good sound byte, and the FBI and ATF jumped on any chance to further marginalize these people. 'Whackos from Waco.' To quote Saint Bill again;

Oh, sure, they'll tell you it was all about saving those kids from child abuse. Them Davidians was abusing them kids. Well, you sure did a good job of saving them, didn't you, you asshole? Burning them all to death sure prevents any further child abuse, doesn't it? Hell, if you are so interested in stopping child abuse and child molestation, why don't I see any Bradley's bashing down the doors of any Catholic Churches? (Note: I was raised Catholic, so I don't want to hear about how unfair that joke is. My fingers still goddamn hurt, and I'm lucky, because several kids who were in my CCD class were initiated into the Special Choir, if you can read between the lines.)

Power and control. That's all it is. The Federal Government of the United States does not like to lose, ever. It's the same mentality that leads state and local police to refuse to abandon High Speed Chases, even though they're killing more innocent bystanders than they are catching anyone. Power and control. It's got nothing to do with rights, with law, with labels like 'leftist' or 'conservative.' It's Lord Acton all over again.

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

It's an old saw because it still cuts the wood.
posted by Ezrael at 11:14 PM on June 19, 2000


I forgot to mention that I am not really interested in living in anarchy, I was just using it as a polar opposite.
posted by thirteen at 6:17 AM on June 20, 2000


I don't think the Waco story was properly reported outside the US, either: and yes, Bill Hicks offered a better source of information than the world's press. But I remember thinking at the time that it came across as a case of "fire fighting fire" (almost literally). And as the Salon report suggests, the "guns and religion" mantra bandied about made it all too easy to think "oh, typical America" on both sides.
posted by holgate at 9:09 AM on June 20, 2000


No, I don't think the left is totally innocent. The American "new left" as represented by Clinton is pretty skunky indeed. Is the right better? No way. The Gulf War, the invasion of Panama, and Ruby Ridge all happened under Bush (who used to be director of the CIA, not that the media EVER mentioned that, as far as I could tell.) I agree-- it's all about power for most of these people-- ideology is just a means to an end. Left and right ideology can both be used to oppress. But you can still choose between ideologies, and I choose the left.

I'm progressive, which means I favor some socialist programs. Here's why: take health care for an example. Someone is going to control health care. It will always attract people who want to control it because there's so much money and power in it.

Currently, the power in health care resides mainly in private hands. HMOs, insurance companies, drug manufacturers, hospitals, doctors. We as citizens have very little say in what these private entities do. If they decide to sell life-saving drugs at extremely high prices because they know terminal patients have no choice but to pay, then they will. We can't stop them. We can try to regulate these private entities through the government, but they simply use their lobbyists and financial clout to corrupt the oversight process of government.

Whereas if the health care system is nationalized, we as citizens can make decisions that will affect health care by voting for candidates who agree to use it the way we want it to be used. If the candidates fail to live up to that agreement, we can vote them out and elect new candidates. We can't vote out the CEO of Pfizer.

I don't think all industry should be nationalized (that's why I'm progressive rather than socialist). The free market is a pretty good system for goods like stereos, shoes, and widgets. If the price of shoes is too high, you can buy cheaper shoes or used shoes or go barefoot. But in health care, supply and demand are distorted because much of the time, the demanders can't refuse to buy treatment when the price is too high. If you have a disease that must be treated to save your life, the hospital / drug companies can set their price at ten times the actual cost of research & manufacturing. You can't refuse to pay-- you'll die.

Another, lesser reason for nationalizing health care: drug companies receive subsidies and research aid from the government (i.e. your tax dollars). Many drugs begin in government labs, and are handed off to private drug companies to develop. Then these drug corporations sell the drugs at high prices, claiming they need to "cover the cost of research and development"-- but in many cases, you, the taxpayer, already paid to cover their R&D costs. Their prices are high because they know patients can't refuse to buy the drugs; frequently "covering R&D costs" is an excuse and a lie.

Back to the subject of Waco-- A Reader's Guide to the Underground Press had a good summary of the situation in their last print issue. It was a terrible tragedy, and some people on the left spoke out about it-- I'm pretty sure Noam Chomsky and Jello Biafra have both mentioned it when talking about US abuses of power.
posted by wiremommy at 10:48 AM on June 20, 2000


Boy, go away for a weekend and you miss the most interesting discussions.
Would there have been more of a media outcry if this had happened under a Republican president? Or if the victims had been black, or Native American? Probably so.
Well, this already happened, back in 1985, when the Philadelphia police firebombed MOVE. As a leftist, I've actually always wondered why the right didn't get more up in arms about this--I think it's a mirror image of Waco, where Republicans didn't want to shake the boat while they were in power and didn't want to support a freaky, separatist, and largely leftist African-American group, even though they were sitting on a sizeable armory. (And when did packing heat become the defining characteristic of the American right? Sometime after 1985, apparently.)

But did it get play in the media at the time? Did you hear about the eventual civil suit? (No criminal charges were ever filed.)

Howard Zinn has mentioned Waco:
And yet, the arguments must be met, because they continue to be advanced, in one form or another, every time the organized power of the state is used to commit an atrocity-whether the setting is Auschwitz or My Lai or Chechnya, or Waco, Texas or the firebombing of the MOVE people in Philadelphia. When private bands of fanatics commit atrocities we call them "terrorists," which they are, and have no trouble dismissing their reasons. But when governments do the same, and on a much larger scale, the word "terrorism" is not used, and we consider it a sign of our democracy that the acts become subject to debate.
posted by snarkout at 11:11 AM on June 20, 2000


At the time of the Waco incident I remember being shocked to discover that most people saw the Davidians as unpredictable religious lunatics, a bit foreign, aberrant. They sympathized with the government - or at least give serious consideration to the idea that the FBI's actions were justified and legitimate - because they felt in some way threatened by the Davidians, or by the idea of the Davidians. They saw the tanks and rifles as extensions of a beat cop's badge and pistol; tools used to keep them safe from all the evil criminals out there.

For me it was the other way around; I saw the BATF and FBI as unpredictable gun-toting thugs, a threat to anyone who didn't act normal. I found the prospect that the Feds would someday be sticking those guns in my face much more likely than the idea that a bunch of religious oddballs living out in the boondocks would ever hurt anyone but maybe themselves.

I think this is why the Waco disaster has never been a source of as much controversy as many of us seem to believe it should be. Most people simply didn't see the Davidians as anything but "them" - other, alien, not like us. They were leftover radicals; Koresh another Jim Jones, the commune idea a bit silly in the 90s. They had guns, so they must have been violent people. Or something like that - whatever they thought, the public debate never got underneath trivia about the mechanics of the attack and speculations about the Davidians' homelife to really ask what the hell a small army was doing attacking American citizens in the first place. The fire came off as a tragic end to a botched, though justified, raid rather than a penultimate act of violence in months of abused power.

The Amadou Diallo debacle brought this dilemma to view again. To many New Yorkers, Giuliani's NYPD are the good guys: out there reducing crime, protecting us from those evil criminals, muggers, rapists, thieves. But when that "protection" involves harassment, intimidation, and maybe being shot a few dozen times for getting out your wallet it's a lot harder to see the cops as your friends.

-Mars

posted by Mars Saxman at 1:17 PM on June 20, 2000


I am not here to defend the right. I have no great love for Republicans.
I was originally trying to say that the left has a dark side not often acknowledged. The right has a dark side too, along the lines of selfishness, xenophobia, etc. I think the left demands my love and obedience. The pure philosophy of both sides sounds nice. All men living free, or all men living as brothers. My point is that I think there are greater dangers in turning over our lives to other people, more room for people to exploit us.
I respect your desire for socialized medicine, I think you want it for the right reasons, but it is not for me. Where does that leave us? Should I be forced to go along? I do not think our country became strong despite our lack of socialist programs, but because we rejected this form of government. I will admit I am wrong if I am convinced, but so far nobody has a strong enough argument to convince me I am.
When the country was founded it would have been though ridiculous to say people had a responsibility to share the cost of their neighbors health care. Couldn't we create an alternate system that allows people to decide weather or not they wanna join in the socialized system? The only reasons to refuse choice are because you think you know what is best for people, or because the system cannot work without everybody paying into it. I am not rich, I am sure I have been poorer that almost anyone reading my words. I know you cannot have this scenario without taking from people who have and giving to to those who do not. Redistribution of wealth is a crummy foundation to build a policy on. The wealth will run out or be hidden, and then where will we be? We all pay taxes, but the rich pay more, and provide almost everything for the rest of us. We drive on the roads they pay for, enjoy the public works their money provides. I am always astonished by how much I pay in taxes, but I know it is a drop in the bucket compared to the wealthy. If the rich could decide not to take part in socialized medicine, it would not work, or else the average family would have to pay more than they are now to get a poorer quality of service. When I hear people demand this service, I translate it as I want some one else to pay my way. I do not think that is fair.
I agree with you that the drug companies are gouging us. The government should not be giving anything to private industry. Our prices are also high because, other countries want our drugs, but have laws capping the price they will pay for them. We are already helping to pay for the socialized cost of other countries. What incentive is there to provide quality service with out profit?
We do not need to destroy our current system, we just need more competition.
I am so rambling, and this has come a long way since Waco.
Sapphireblue said it all, and I have nothing to add to her words. The left and right in our government are not the horrible extremes I fear, tho I do spend time disliking the major parties. My worry is that we will take steps and change the balance. I prefer gridlock to support of one ideologoy over the other. I am embarrassed that I was the first to mention Nazi’s, because Metafilter has been wonderfully free of that LCD topic. My apologies to all.
posted by thirteen at 1:32 PM on June 20, 2000


I am always astonished by how much I pay in taxes, but I know it is a drop in the bucket compared to the wealthy.
That's all I'm gonna say on that topic, since there's no point in making this a right-vs.-left discussion (and arguing about the Libertarian Party is almost as good as mentioning Hitler as far as derailing discussions goes).

I think Waco showed that America still has a problem with the idea that freaky, weird, unappealing people should be left alone to remain freaky, weird, and unappealing. I think Mars nailed it--consensus was that they were outside the bounds of polity and thus deserved no protection.

Even the truly vile fuckers at Ruby Ridge deserved the Constitutionally mandated due process of law, but it's hard mustering outrage when people who are different get hurt. Witness the gay rights movement's slow redefinition of where the boundary are drawn through emphasis on how gays are just like anyone else.

Non-mainstream religions have been a threat to the American political order for a long time. Witness the early confrontations between mainstream Protestants and the Latter-Day Saints, the wretched treatment of Jehovah's Witnesses during WWII--even the Know-Nothings, back when simple anti-Catholicism (with a smattering of prurient interest for naughty nun stories) could really get the populace stoked. With the possible exceptions of homosexuality and race, historically, there's been nothing America loves so much as to show people who don't worship God properly who's boss.
posted by snarkout at 3:04 PM on June 20, 2000


Amen to a lot of what I'm reading. Of course, it's easy for me to type that from the safety of my air conditioned apartment, and a lot harder for me to find a way to drive the point home to people out in the world.

I'll look into that. Maybe I can write a story about it that'll touch people. Probably not, but it can't hurt to try.
posted by Ezrael at 3:12 PM on June 20, 2000


(Curse my typo-ridden hands...)

I couldn't find Maria Monk's Awful Disclosures online--Project Gutenberg let me down--but this page provides a dandy example of religious conflict back in the day:
A year earlier, Rebecca Theresa Reed published a work entitled Six Months in a Convent, which claimed to expose the horrors of life in the Ursuline convent in Charlestown. In August 1834, that convent was burned down by an angry mob, convinced that women were held there against their will.
The addition of tanks and pyrotechnics is a novel touch, but just one further step in an American tradition.
posted by
snarkout at 3:21 PM on June 20, 2000


Egad. My apologies to everyone. I appear to have been particularly striken with failure-to-close-tags-itis today.
posted by snarkout at 3:28 PM on June 20, 2000


I think it is a bit extreme to call the Ruby Ridge family "truely vile fuckers". They were white separatists who removed themselves from society. I don't think they ever hurt anybody. Since we disagree with them, we should be pleased with their voluntary isolation from our lives. The little I have read about RR convienced me there was entrapment and willful failure to deliever a summons at work, the government came to fight. The woman was holding a baby, quite a bit bigger than a wallet. I know we are on the same side on this, I agree with much of what you posted. But if I believe someone is a vile fucker I do not feel too bad when they pass on.
posted by thirteen at 3:43 PM on June 20, 2000


I'll quote Reason magazine, no friend of the left: "It has been pretty well established that Randy and Vicki were loosely affiliated with or sympathetic to the Christian Identity movement..."

What happened to the Weavers is horrible, but it doesn't make me change my mind about the repulsive beliefs of Christian Identity. That said, the Weavers weren't hurting, or even bothering, anyone; regardless of the antipathy I feel toward their beliefs, they didn't remotely deserve what was done to them. Shooting children is wrong--that's a pretty basic moral statement.
posted by snarkout at 7:07 PM on June 20, 2000


Well said.
posted by thirteen at 7:31 PM on June 20, 2000


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