Standoff: What Happened at Ruby Ridge (2018)

This is a brief (roughly 2 hour) podcast about an incident between the US government and a extremist family just prior to Waco.

I don’t know enough about Waco. Much of what I know about Waco comes from the Meteor Shower Trilogy from South Park‘s third season and from catching bits and pieces of documentaries over the years (including a recent one, I believe on CNN).

But I am a civil libertarian, as much as possible, and so what happened at Waco has always deeply bothered me. What happened at “Ruby Ridge” is both not nearly as bad – way fewer people died or were injured – but also worse – there was even less of a reason for the US government to attack the house in this case. Listening to a story about this incident – which happened a quarter century ago – is particularly alarming in light of the kind of violence regularly perpetrated by US law enforcement agencies on people in the 21st century.

The podcast does an excellent job of showing how this incident seemed both inevitable and highly avoidable at the same time; both the Weavers and the US government seem utterly determined to do the wrong thing at every turn, eventually resulting in death. In particular, it’s fascinating to see how the Weavers believed the US government was out to get them and behaved just crazy enough that the US government eventually came and got them. But the US government essentially fulfilled the prophecy of far right groups by utterly failing to think of another way to handle the situation. (Here is one absolutely absurd example: the FBI sent in a robot to deliver something to the Weavers but the robot was armed with a gun! The robot! In 1992! Imagine how bad a 1992 robot was in terms of its functionality. What were they thinking? It’s like nobody had ever heard of the concept of deescalation.) Everybody is to blame here but I absolutely put the majority of the blame on the government; pursuing an illegal weapons sale charge for two guns should never end up in death.

The podcast also does a good job of pointing out the utter hypocrisy of the use of this incident by the Right in the US; how it has become a rallying cry for resistance to the federal government, meanwhile non-white people are killed by law enforcement agencies nearly every day and they couldn’t care less.

Well worth your time.


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