Monday, April 7, 2008

How Not to Lay Siege to a Religious Cult

By Alan Caruba

The year was 1993 and the U.S. Treasury Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (three of my favorite things) arrived at the door of Mount Carmel, the property of the Branch Davidians, a religious cult with a compound outside of Waco, Texas. By most reports they were not regarded as some satanic group by the local residents.

The BATF was there to investigate reports of huge caches of firearms, but as anyone from Texas will tell you, most folks there think you’re not right in the head if you don’t have a couple of handguns, rifles and shotguns somewhere on the premises. The Branch Davidians told the BATF to go away and the resulting raid would cost four BATF agents their lives along with six Davidians.

That began a siege that would last 51 days. It’s useful to bear in mind that the Davidians believed in an End of Days, apocalyptic theology and had been around since the 1930s when the group began as a breakaway from the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. So, having the full force of the government show up was seen as a sure sign the End was near.

By the time the government was through, some 76 Branch Davidians, including 21 of whom were children, were killed in a blaze ignited after the ATF and FBI used pyrotechnic tear gas. The fire was blamed on the Davidians, but somehow I doubt that.

A corollary to this story was the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City. One of the onlookers at the Waco siege was Timothy McVeigh and, during his trial, he cited the event as the trigger for what he did.

The whole Waco debacle was undertaken with the blessing of Janet Reno, the first woman Attorney General, an appointee of then-President Bill Clinton. She also oversaw the return of Elian Gonzales, a 5-year-old Cuban boy whose mother had drowned in the effort to bring him to America. Elian had family in Miami, but that didn’t matter. He was forcibly seized and returned.

I was thinking about this as I watched the news about the polygamist cult in Eldorado, Texas whose compound was entered after a search warrant was issued based on a call from within the compound from a 16-year-old girl alleging sexual abuse. At last report, authorities were looking for the girl, her baby, and Dale Barlow, her 50-year-old husband.

Texas law enforcement authorities and state welfare agents made quick, non-violent work of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints as they searched for evidence. By Friday, 52 girls had been removed. No one got killed. The place wasn’t burnt to the ground. And the last time I checked, polygamy and sex with underage girls was against the law in Texas and elsewhere.

When you contrast the two events, you get a vivid insight to the lawlessness of the Clinton Administration and the way sensible law enforcement officials conducted themselves over the weekend.

I don’t know what Janet Reno is doing these days, but maybe she’s amusing herself replaying the Waco tape. Word on the street is that Clinton’s wife is running to be the next President of the United States, but that is so absurd, even I can’t believe it.

1 comment:

João Workentine said...

Just because they talk apocalypse, it doesn't necessarily make them a cult.

The Adventist church still talks end of the world, but they are definitely no cult: