The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Paranoia as Patriotism:
Far-Right Influences on the Militia Movement

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 government.

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 planned.

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)

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