Radicalising the Right
An enormous and alarming concentration of resources- taxpayers money,
government personnel and time, not to mention many lives were expanded
on the social problem allegedly taking place in Waco, Texas. According
to news sources, the planned raid of the Mount Carmel Branch Davidian
property by the BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) was one
of the largest civilian law enforcement actions in UShistory. "For
years now, the disaster near Wacohas been exhibit No. 1 for many who
have deep distrust of the American government." From conspiracy sites
on the Internet to documentary films, Waco has provided a focus for
those who see the government as the enemy. And now they say there is
proof the government has been lying.
The initial operation involved approximately eighty federal agents,
armed with semi-automatic and automatic weapons, orchestrated to
execute a single search and arrest warrant. After the failed siege, in
which at least six sect members and four agents died in a gun battle,
and the ensuing 51 day standoff, in which an estimated 74 Davidians
died, 21 of whom were children, the final toll included the tragic
deaths of 84 people and cost the taxpayer 100 million dollars. By the
end of the whole affair, an army in excess of 700 federal and state
officials were involved in one capacity or another.
The cruelest irony of all is that it need never have happened in the
first place. A careful analysis of the so-called problem posed by the
Branch Davidians suggests one that is hardly proportional to the
official reaction it prompted. In concluding this, three prominent
* Policy and circumstances surrounding the possession of firearms.
* Child abuse centred allegations.
* The role of the media in the construction of public opinion.
However, the official answer that apparently most Americans are
willing to accept is that David Koresh was to blame. If he had not
been a crazy religious fanatic who was "hell-bent on bringing down the
lives of those around him", then the standoff would have ended
peacefully. Consequently, this psychologising of the "Waco Problem" is
as wanting now as it was when such explanations were offered for the
tragedy of Jonestown. A slightly different version of this simplistic
notion is that Koresh was so irrational and unpredictable that he
"probably would have ordered a mass suicide no matter when the
authorities reacted", so that actions taken on that fifty-first day
were irrelevant. This view was developed in the trial of the Davidians
in San Antonio, where prosecutors expounded on the "theology of death"
integral to Koresh's beliefs.
Calling for reform from within the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, the
Davidian sect emerged in 1929 in Los Angeles. They moved to central