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Rallying Cries of the Ultra-Right: Weaver and Waco

In addition to recent gun control legislation, two events have
received top billing in the propaganda of the militia
movement in America: the Randy Weaver siege in Idaho and the
Branch Davidian incident in Waco, Texas. Militia leaders
repeatedly refer to these two events as evidence of what the
percieve to be a conspiratorial crackdown by the Federal

Randy Weaver first came under Federal scrutiny during an
investigation of the white supremacist Aryan Nations and was
indicted in December 1990 for allegedly selling illegal guns
to an informer for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms
(ATF). When Weaver, who was known to have espoused violently
anti-government views, failed to appear in court in January
1991, Federal officials sought his arrest. Weaver hid out
with his wife, his children and an associate in a cabin in a
remote area of northern Idaho. When the authorities moved in
to make the arrest, an armed confrontation and an 11-day siege
followed, during which a Federal deputy marshall and Weaver’s
wife and son were killed before Weaver finally surrendered.

The second incident, more dramatic and far-reaching in its
effect, was the siege of the Branch Davidian compound near
Waco, Texas. On February 28, 1993, Federal agents attempted to
enter the Davidians’ compound in order to arrest the sect’s
leader, David Koresh, for allegedly stockpiling a vast illegal
arsenal. When residents of the compound resisted, four ATF
agents were killed in a shootout, along with six Davidians.
After a 51-day standoff, agents attempted a second assault at
which time a fire broke out and 80 Davidians died, including
18 children. The ATF and FBI maintained that they did nothing
wrong and that the Davidians started the fire themselves in a
mass suicide. A Federal investigation later found that both
agencies had exercised poor judgement, but had broken no laws;
however, House Republicans plan to hold further hearings on
the incident in the near future, and a Senate investigation is

For militia members, as well as members of many right-wing
extremist groups, the Randy Weaver episode and even more
particularly the Waco incident have become symbols of
perceived Federal tyranny against American citizens. Numerous
propaganda videos alleging a massive government conspiracy
concerning Waco circulate among militia members and others who
share their views. Among them are “Waco: The Big Lie,” by
Linda Thompson, the self-proclaimed “Activing Adjutant
General” of the “Unorganized Militia of the United States,”
based in Indianapolis; and “Day 51,” sponsored by the
Washington-State based Citizens for Liberty. Ben Hinkle,
chairman of the latter group, has been quoted as saying: “I
believe the tragedy in Oklahoma is a cover-up to divert
attention away from Waco.” Indeed, some militia members and
supporters even accuse the government of planting the Oklahoma
City bomb to create an anti-militia backlash. (Anti-Defamation
League, 5)

Work Cited

Anti-Defamation League. [Special Report] Paranoia as Patriotism:
Far-Right Influences on the Militia Movement. 1995.

Newsgroups: alt.conspiracy,alt.politics.white-power
Subject: Paranoia as Patriotism: Weaver and Waco

Archive/File: pub/orgs/american/adl/paranoia-as-patriotism/weaver-and-waco
Last-Modified: 1995/08/26