Hasn't Al Sharpton Heard of Waco?
“There must be national policy and national law on policing,” Al Sharpton said at the kickoff of his National Action Network’s annual convention last week. “We can’t go from state to state, we’ve got to have national law to protect people against these continued questions.”
His audience applauded. Sharpton kept talking. After commending the officials who arrested and charged Officer Michael Slager in the South Carolina shooting death of Walter Scott, he continued, “We cannot have a justice system that hopes we have a mayor in the right city or a police chief. We have to have one policy that is national.”
Those like Sharpton who hope to nationalize the police might want to recall what our national police forces accomplished on the dusty plains outside of Waco, Texas, twenty-two years ago next Sunday.
For those of short memory, the FBI, trying to mop up for a botched earlier raid by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), launched a tank attack on a Branch Davidian religious community called the Mount Carmel Center.
The ATF had gotten it into its head that the Branch Davidians were converting legally owned, semi-automatic AR-15s into illegal, fully automatic weapons. The ATF had no proof of this beyond the report from one neighbor who thought he heard machine gun fire, a report that the local sheriff had already investigated and discounted.
Based on this claim, the ATF obtained a search warrant and an arrest warrant for leader David Koresh and others suspected in the weapons conversion. Earlier Koresh had offered to let the ATF inspect the Branch Davidians' weapons and paperwork, but the ATF declined. Instead, on February 28, 1993, to impress the incoming Clinton administration, the ATF launched an armed attack against the community called, appropriately enough, “Showtime.”
By comparison to Showtime, the ATF’s “Fast and Furious” program was a roaring success. The raid was a total botch. Six ATF agents were killed as were six Davidians. For the next fifty-one days the Davidians hunkered down and one nationalized police force, the FBI, took control from another, the ATF.
On April 19, 1993, losing patience, the FBI launched its assault. Leading the way were M728 Combat Engineer Vehicles, better known as “tanks.” Their task was to puncture the walls of the community and pump in CS gas.
The assault did not work quite as planned. The wood frame buildings caught fire, and seventy-four Davidians died, twenty of them children. Individually the federal agents involved were likely honorable and decent citizens. Those at the top of the hierarchy were not. Attorney General Janet Reno accepted responsibility. "I made the decision," Reno said at a news conference. "I'm accountable. The buck stops with me."
During the siege, and immediately afterwards, Bill Clinton proved to be as craven a buck passer as Obama has been post-Benghazi. "I was aware of it. I think the attorney general made the decision,” Clinton told the media while the compound burned. "I knew it was going to be done but the decisions were entirely theirs."
At the time of the assault, Clinton was meeting with his Asian moneymen, John Huang and James Riady, in his never ending quest to raise illegal foreign cash. Riady recalls the day vividly because a television in the corner was showing the Mount Carmel community at Waco in full flame. Ever gracious, Clinton escorted his guests to the White House situation room to observe key staff then in the throes of mismanaging the crisis.
When Clinton saw the laurels being tossed Reno’s way, however, he turned credit monger and fought for his share of the limelight. Yes, Virginia, there was limelight to be had. What may seem incredible, at least to those who take the media seriously, is that Reno’s approval ratings went up after the debacle.
Reno survived Waco -- indeed, Clinton survived Waco -- only because one crucial piece of evidence was successfully withheld from the public, quite possibly including Al Sharpton. I am talking here about the racial make-up of the Mount Carmel community.
As a test, ask a group of your smartest friends to describe what the victims at Waco looked like. Almost assuredly, your friends will describe them as white, Bible-toting, gun-loving Christians of the peckerwood variety.
What your friends almost assuredly will not know, and will be reluctant to believe, was that more than half of those presumed peckerwoods were racial minorities, thirty-nine out of seventy-four who died on April 19 to be precise. Six of the dead were Hispanic. Six were of Asian descent. Twenty-seven were black. The victims ranged in age from six to sixty-one.
Truth be told, Waco represented the single greatest federally orchestrated one-day slaughter of racial minorities on American soil since Wounded Knee in 1890, and there, at least, the Indians fought back, killing more than 30 American cavalry. And no, this is not something I read on the Internet. I found a verifiable list of the dead, broken out by age and ethnicity, and counted them.
The FBI had given the Branch Davidians video cameras. The Clinton White House knew who was in the buildings. So, almost assuredly, did the major media, but those video images were successfully suppressed, and the public never knew.
Although usually hypersensitive to the concerns of racial minorities, the media turned a strategically blind eye to their very presence at Waco, not to mention their deaths. As intended, scarcely a black person in America knew the hell visited on his brethren by white police in those early uncertain months of the Clinton era.
That knowledge would surely have strained black affection for the Clintons and maybe even party loyalty. The media were not about to encourage such a schism. Those under 30 may wonder how the media succeeded in keeping this information from the American people. The reason is simple: in 1993, a nearly monolithic broadcast media controlled close to all visual imagery.
Fox News did not come online until 1996. The Internet was still in its embryonic stages. There was no Google, no YouTube, no Facebook. Even well informed conservatives were clueless about who died at Waco.
I do not know how much Sharpton knows about Waco, but he can be confident his followers know nothing at all. If they knew the truth, they might not have applauded his call for nationalization of the police.
But then again, media disinformation has undermined black America for so long, Sharpton’s followers might have applauded anyhow.
Jack Cashill’s newest book, Scarlet Letters: The Ever-Increasing Intolerance of the Cult of Liberalism Exposed, will be available August 4.