As I was reading “The Ashes of Waco”, which recounts the demise of the Branch Davidians at the hands of the federal government, a bunch of things occured to me. One, never attack a messianic cult, it only encourages them. Two, it is disingenuous to start a firefight with a hitherto peaceful heavily armed group and then pretend that proves your point that guns are dangerous. Three, the “cult” trappings of the Branch Davidians were largely the same devices used by the mainstream religions which have been used from time immemorial.

Take, for example, the fact that the group members were said to have referred to David Koresh as “dad”. That is a psychological tool used by, not only religious groups, but by political movements as well, specifically appeal to family imagery in order to cement group solidarity. Germany becomes “The Fatherland”, protestant churchgoers are “brothers and sisters”, Catholic priests are referred to as “father”, United States Marines declare a “brotherhood”. This “cult” manifestation by the Branch Davidians was not a new or particulary ominous idea, it was just another example of tried and tested collective mind influence.

In fact, while these religious and political groups seek to usurp the ideals of family ties (a strong bond as human beings are hardwired to show preference to those who share common genes), they also seek to dissolve the ties of the family itself. In Nazi Germany the Hitler youth groups were encouraged to inform on any anti Nazi actions of their parents, the communists insist that class solidarity trumps blood relationships, and Jesus of Nazareth was even alleged to check his mother and siblings at the door in Matthew 12:46-50 saying:

46 While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him.

47 Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.”

48 But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”

49 And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers!

50 “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

Christian family values indeed. So David Koresh’s psychological binding of his followers into a mystical “family” is not any more cultish than mainstream religions or political movements.

Another thing that I realized on reading this book is that the idea that the Branch Davidians deserved what they got because they were nutty just doesn’t hold water. It’s not against the law to be a religious nut, that is part of your constitutionally protected freedom of speech. If being nutty warrants a government raid then I have some exes who ought to have their houses leveled right now, but instead let’s be civilized. As for the allegations about statutory sex crimes, there are buckets of substantiated charges against the Catholic church but you don’t see the ATF punching holes in their churches with tanks. The raid against the Branch Davidians wasn’t about children, it was about the federal government overreacting to allegations that the sect may have been stockpiling semiautomatic weapons (legal under both Texas and federal law) that they may have modified to become automatic (which would have been illegal).

Come to think of it, although I’ve read through 80% of the book already I don’t even know if the weapons on the compound were illegally modified or not. And at this point I don’t care. A bunch of people are dead who didn’t have to be because the federal government decided to go all Wyatt Erp against a group of civilian citizens. The children they were ostensibly trying to protect died too, partially because the holes the tanks punched into the compound also collapsed the routes of egress. Good job government. Any more problems you want to fix?

14 Responses to “Cults”

  1. Phelps says:

    I have seen no credible evidence other than the testimony of the agents actually conducting the raid (which, given the outcome should be suspect) that there were any automatic weapons in the compound before they brought them in to raid the place.

    I was watching Assault on Waco last night, and the Federal story simply got more and more incredible. They claimed that they have 150 automatic weapons. There were only 140 people there, counting 40-something children. They claimed that one of the weapons was a .50 machine gun. Ladies and gentlemen, if they had a Ma Duece in that compound, the FBI would not have been flying thin skinned helicopters around the compound during the siege.

    They claimed that they had a “stockpile” of 8,000 rounds of ammunition and that there was always someone on the firing range. That is simply bullshit, one way or the other. First of all, 8000 rounds isn’t a stockpile, especially for 150 machine guns. If they had a .50 there, and it was an actual machine gun (and not something like a Barrett rifle) then a couple thousand of those have to be ammunition for it to make it worth having. Even if it was all battle ammunition (and not something like eight $9 boxes of .22LR ammo from Walmart) then that is only 200 rounds each for 40 fighting men. Our soldiers carry more ammo than that just walking around. Hell, I have about 3000 rounds in my closet, and I’m running low on ammunition.

    I’m starting to understand our problem with the middle east more now that I understand the fundamental disconnect that the Federal agents and law enforcement in general had with the Branch Davidians. I don’t agree with (all) thier beliefs, but I have a Pentecostal background and understand them. They may be wrong, but they aren’t crazy. The FBI could not have followed a better “We are agents of Satan” script. Any Evangelical Christain could have told them how to handle these guys, but they never asked and wouldn’t have listened if they did. Thier own FBI negotiators were trying to reign the cowboys in the whole time, but they never did.

    Waco was simply violent authoritarianism out of control. I’m waiting for someone to try to make paralells to Iraq, but I’m not buying it. Other than the failure to surrender after broadcasting Koresh’s sermon, the Branch Davidians seem to have negotiated in good faith and acted honorably from the standpoint of an insurrection force. On the other hand, the Feds never seemed to have negotiated from a good faith position. Everything that the negotiators told them turned out to be a lie, over and over and over again.

    And all of it could have been averted if they had simply had the Sheriff drive up to the place, get out, and say, “Dave, we need you to come into town and answer some questions.” The only person the warrant named for arrest was Koresh. If they had done it that way, it would have been Koresh’s “Judas in the Garden” moment, and he would have gone with them according to prophecy. (I always wanted to use that phrase to end a sentence.)

  2. mexi says:

    My favorite part was when the feds had undercover agents living adjacent to the property and the Davidians pretty much figured they were feds so they asked this guy what he did for a living and he said he used to be a ranchhand in West Texas. The Davidian said “Really? About how many cattle can an acre support in West Texas?” The guy had no answer!

    Worst undercover surveillance EVER!

  3. guy in the UNLV jacket says:

    6 cows per acer

  4. mexi says:

    I would have said “Hold on” and then hold in my earpiece while talking into my lapel.

  5. R says:

    An acre isn’t a lot, and I would have said four before I read Guy’s answer.

  6. mexi says:

    The irony is that even though Koresh eschewed politics, the massacre attracted the sympathies of those who. . . DO chew politics.


  7. guy in the UNLV jacket says:

    I just made that 6 cows per acre number up, out of thin air. I should have been an agent

  8. mexi says:

    HAHAHAHAAHAHAHA!! I was WONDERING about that. It sounded almost reasonable to me because West Texas is rather dry so I thought maybe it would support less cattle than other places but then again I don’t know how many cattle other places would support either as my cows always come in a USDA package.

  9. Citizen Quasar says:

    The whole Waco thing was just a trial balloon to see how much tyranny the government could get away with. Some of my acquaintances were at the trial and tell the tale of what a sham that was.

    Now the government has done Oklahoma City, 911, and we are being hosted to a fake “war on terror” that is predicted to last a century and require the enslavement of the entire planet.

    Meanwhile, the real terrorists hide behind alphabet-channel talking heads.

  10. mexi says:

    Are you being serious now or are you being a parody of yourself? Oh yeah, and what’s the point of me linking you on the blogroll if you don’t write anything!!??

  11. guy in the UNLV jacket says:

    Qassar how many times have you watched V for Vendetta?

  12. Phelps says:

    Fewer times than The Turner Diaries and A State of Disobedience?

  13. Citizen Quasar says:

    Mexi: Yes. I am serious.

    I thank you for linking me on your blogroll. I was unaware of this. (At least you have not blocked me like Phelps did.)As I am using a proxy blog service, I am having difficulty tweaking the template. I will begin posting sometime this week.

    UNLV: It’s Quasar not Qassar. That’s Q-U-A-S-A-R. No. I have not seen V for Vendetta though it is on my list of movies to watch.

    Phelps: Yes. I have only read The Turner Diaries once (years ago) and have never heard of State of Disobedience.

  14. Citizen Quasar says:

    Hey. I put you on my blogroll. I hope this is OK. This blog server has at least as many bugs as an AOL portal. Give it a day to settle down and then look at it.

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