Trump holding his first 2024 campaign rally in Waco on 30th anniversary of the Waco siege is about inciting more terrorism
MAGA and the Branch Davidian's are both cults
On Saturday, Donald Trump will hold his first major campaign rally since announcing his 2024 presidential run last November. Obviously, Trump could’ve held this event in any location, in any state, at any time. But Trump chose to hold this first rally in Waco, Texas, during the 30th anniversary of the government’s siege of the Branch Davidian cult there in 1993—an incident that has long been viewed as a rallying cry for anti-government violence.
That’s why numerous experts have raised red flags that Trump’s choice of Waco is about courting anti-government extremists to his side--especially given that this rally was announced just last Friday as media reports were swirling that the Manhattan District Attorney was likely on the verge of indicting Trump.
The 1993 siege of the Branch Davidian cult’s complex in Waco began on February 28, 1993, when officers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) sought—by way of a search warrant—to enter the premises given evidence the group was storing a massive stockpile of illegal weapons. That botched initial raid left four ATF agents dead. The FBI then took control of the situation, which led to a 51-day standoff as the FBI attempted to negotiate a peaceful surrender with the cult’s leader, David Koresh. Ultimately, however, President Bill Clinton’s Attorney General Janet Reno ordered the FBI to enter the compound, which resulted in the deaths of 75 people, including 25 children.
Waco has since become a cause for the far right and “patriot movements” to invoke when committing anti-government violence. As Eric Ward, an expert on extremism who serves as the Executive Vice President of Race Forward and a Senior Advisor to Western States Center, explained via email, the Waco siege has inspired “a trail of bombings, shootouts, murders, and a host of illegal activity. The extremist expert noted, “the most known being the bombing of the Alfred P. Murray Federal Building in Oklahoma City, OK two years later where 168 people, including 19 children, were murdered.”
In fact, Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh cited the Waco incident as the reason he waged his 1995 deadly anti-government attack--which he carried out on the two year anniversary of the FBI’s final assault on the Waco compound. As McVeigh stated from prison during a 2001 interview, “Waco started this war. Hopefully, Oklahoma would end it. The only way they’re going to feel something, the only way they’re going to get the message is, quote, with a body count.”
Ward ominously warned, “The founders of the American Militia Movement constructed their popularity by promoting conspiratorial myths built around the standoff at Waco, Texas.” He added, “Trump seeks to do the same.”
Ward is far from alone in loudly raising these concerns. Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism explained to USA Today about Trump’s choice of Waco for his first rally: "There's not really another place in the U.S. that you could pick that would tap into these deep veins of anti-government hatred – Christian nationalist skepticism of the government – and I find it hard to believe that Trump doesn't know that Waco represents all of these things."
That same sentiment was expressed by Oren Segal, vice president of the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism, who tied the potential charges against Trump to his choice of Waco for the rally: "If Trump is promoting this idea of government overreach – of targeting him —– it's kind of the perfect place to send a message, and will be understood that way whether he intends it or not."
Will Trump use his rally in Waco on the 30th anniversary of the siege to ratchet up his anti-government attacks directed at federal and state officials prosecuting him?! Knowing Trump, the answer is yes. For example, after his Mar-a-Lago residence was searched in August by the FBI pursuant to search warrant seeking classified documents, Trump declared at a rally the next month that, “The FBI and the justice department have become vicious monsters.” That sounds like words you would hear from anti-government extremists—not a former president who is effectively the leader of the Republican party.
Beyond that, Trump has not only shown zero remorse for the vicious Jan 6 attack on our Capitol waged by his supporters to keep him in power despite losing the election, he has also increasingly defended the attackers. Trump has repeatedly claimed those arrested were being treated “unfairly” and has floated pardons for the attackers. Trump is sending a message that if you commit violence to avenge me, I will have your back if I get back in power.
There’s something else about the cult at Waco that is relevant to Trump. In the new Netflix three-part documentary series released this week marking the 30th anniversary titled, “Waco: American Apocalypse,” you hear how the followers of Branch Davidian leader David Koresh were blindly loyal to him. Some members made it clear they would die for their leader—who they viewed as “The Messiah.” And Koresh loved that loyalty, even referring to himself as a prophet.
This type of loyalty to Koresh conjures up what we’ve seen from some with Trump—and the type of loyalty Trump covets. That’s why words of the lead FBI agent in charge during the Waco siege, Bob Ricks, in that Netflix documentary regarding Koresh’s hold on his supporters is relevant when you consider Trump’s hold on MAGA: “This man has total control over everybody in there. The only will that exists is that of one person.”
Ricks noted with that type of blind devotion, it became clear, “We knew this was not going to turn out well.”
With Trump, we also know this will not “turn out well.” The only question is how much more violence will Trump incite before he finally leaves the national stage.
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