What we had here was an eye-opener. It was a judgement to show people just what these bastards could do. In broad daylight, televised all over the world. And then they come around later and lie about what they did. And say ‘They killed themselves. They burnt themselves up.’ No I knew these people they would not do that. It’s against their religious belief. They would never do that.
-Charles Pace, Branch Davadian
The “judgement” Pace referenced happened in 1993 outside Waco, Texas.
Recently Facebook friend Devin Griffith mentioned that he was writing a paper about the Waco Siege. I was only 13 when the incident happened but I recall the television coverage. I remember being struck most by the high costs incurred to maintain the number of men and equipment outside the “compound.”
Why didn’t the Davadians just come out? What chance did they have?
It was only after becoming more familiar with the situation and that I began to see things more clearly.
I read and re-read No More Wacos: What’s Wrong with Federal Law Enforcement and How to Fix It. (This was when I was in school for law enforcement and thought things could be “fixed.”) I watched Waco: The Rules of Engagement a powerful documentary (free in its entirety here) and shared it with friends. When I hit the road with Motorhome Diaries in 2009 Waco was of two places I wanted to visit for sure (the other was Ruby Ridge).
On Griffith’s post I linked to the MHD video and asked him if, once finished, I could repost his paper to remind people of the incident and hopefully encourage them to think about how it went down. He was cool and agreed.
Supported by a four-page bibliography, his paper, Perspectives on the Waco Tragedy: Justifications and Criticisms of Government Action, is thorough. But it takes a more neutral tone than I could today muster. For example, Griffith wrote:
Although it seems clear that the Branch Davidians at Waco were certainly far removed from social norms and deserved a watchful eye, not so clear is whether or not government’s use of force in this situation was justified
To me there is no question on whether the force used was justified. It was not. But I recognize and appreciate that unlike most, Griffith posed questions. He did not parrot the “official” line and at times, put it bluntly:
However, this issue is not nearly as clear the Treasury’s report would suggest.
I encourage you to look into the incident without any preconceived notions.
Ask yourself, if you and a hundred of your friends acted as did those who wore badges (80 dead, property destroyed, evidence disappeared, investigations whitewashed) would you be in the wrong? If you said “Yes”, do you believe a piece of metal can suddenly make those actions right?
In the MHD video on Waco, Davadian Charles Pace stated, “It doesn’t matter where we go, we’re out-numbered, out-powered. . . But not if we all stand-up together for the truth.”
He’s right. Let’s be truthful about policing today. Granting extra rights – arbitrary authority – allows for incidents like Waco (and worse). The most totalitarian regimes exist only on the authority granted. Like Griffith, I’m sure many of you recognize that what happened at Waco wasn’t ideal, so how do we mitigate another such tragedy?
I’m sure most of us agree on the goals – a peaceful, prosperous society. The question is how do we best get there? Some believe they have the exclusive right to “provide” certain goods and services, such as security. I don’t think that makes sense. And I was hoping we could have a discussion with that in mind when viewing the content below.
Positive changes come through the recognition and application of truth.
- Read Griffith’s paper.
- Watch the MHD video. Still thinking?
- Watch this 5-min video by FSU Econ Chair Bruce Benson on the harms caused by the current monopoly on the provision of security.
- Watch this 5-min video by Austin-superactivist John Bush on better alternatives.
FreeKeene.com often highlights principled activism (though I know some of y’all would describe it otherwise). Yes, some of the actions are admittedly trivial, but if we fail to stand up today for what’s right; if we fail to cease legitimizing a system of double-standards, it’ll only become more difficult tomorrow and for the next generation. Not just in Waco but here in Keene as well.