Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Persistent Myth That the Branch Davidians Were All White

The website ran an article a couple of days ago about Gov. Rick Perry's bold approach to tackling economic policy by recalling a heinous racial incident in Waco, Texas, nearly 100 years ago in which a mob lynched an African-American who had been accused of murder.  Rick Perry’s unorthodox economic opportunity speech went there.  Perry's point was not just that things have gotten a lot better since then. Let Perry say it in his own words:

"I’m proud to live in a country that has an African-American President. But President Obama cannot be proud of the fact that the prevalence of black poverty has actually increased under his leadership. We cannot dismiss the historical legacy of slavery, nor its role in causing the problem of black poverty. And because slavery and segregation were sanctioned by government, there is a role for government policy in addressing their lasting effects. But the specific policies, advanced by the President and his allies on the left, amount to little more than throwing money at the problem and walking away."*

The comments on the article about Perry's speech--as comments so often do on any website--range widely if not wildly around and away from the topic. The tenth comment free associates to another "atrocity at Waco... just two decades ago," recalling the April 19, 1993, deaths of 76 members of the Branch Davidian religious sect near Waco:

"My recollection is that those victims were white, including women and children, and it was perpetrated by our government, not just a mindless mob."

Since I was unable to get logged on to that site (they had me register, promised to send me a password, but never sent me one), I was not able to dispel the fellow's misconception directly; so, I will have to try to deal with it here.

It is a persistent myth held by both defenders and detractors of the Branch Davidians that they were all white; yet, among the dead on the day their compound caught fire and burned to the ground--following a 51-day siege by the federal government (first the BATF and then the FBI)--there were several black women and children, as well as at least six Hispanic women and children and a Filipino couple (He was an America citizen but she was still a citizen of the Philippines). A number of the victims were foreign nationals, including not only the Filipina and an Israeli citizen, but some of the black women and children, who were British.

Anyone who closely followed the events as they unfolded back in early 1993 perhaps remembers D. Wayne Martin, the 40-year-old African-American Davidian who was one of the three members of the group who talked to FBI negotiators on the phone throughout the siege. Martin perished, along with his wife and children, on April 19.

In the years since the Waco Seige, I have had occasion to reflect on how convenient it was and continues to be for the Clinton administration in particular and the Democrats in general that most African-Americans, to this day, have never realized that black women and children were among the dead of Waco. It would seem that black lives--or, more to the point, black deaths--only matter when they are politically useful to the Democratic Party.

*I would go further and say that, in recent years, the Democratic Party has done nothing but tell African-Americans that nothing has really changed in the past century as a way of masking their dismal failure to lift the African-American community out of poverty. President Obama seems not so much unable to come up with strategies other than "throwing money and walking away" but actually enamored of strategies and policies that fan the flames of discontent among the poor while ensuring that these same people become even more disgruntled when their rising expectations in the Obama era are met with disappointment and deepening poverty. So sure is Obama that he will not be blamed for these policies--that somebody else will be blamed for them--that he welcomes the dissolution of the welfare state under the weight of his programs. His answer to the failure of his government programs will, of course, be more government programs. It remains to be seen whether this deceit will actually work, but the credulity of the victims of Obama's con game, so far, is no cause for hope that the blame will ever be put squarely where it belongs.

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