When ‘Patriot’ Is An Epithet
By Jack Kinsella
On April 19, 1993 the world watched in horror and disbelief as the so-called ‘Branch Davidian Compound’ burned to the ground, incinerating the seventy-six men, women and children holed up inside.
The “Branch Davidian” sect was born out of a 1955 schism that erupted within the Davidian Seventh Day Adventists, which was itself a 1930’s breakaway sect of the original 1860’s-era Seventh Day Adventists, born out of the “Great Disappointment” of 1844.
The “Great Disappointment” is so-called after the followers of William Miller. William Miller predicted that the Rapture would occur before the end of 1843, based on the interpretative principle he called the “day-year principle.”
When 1844 dawned and the Millerites were still there, Miller revised his calculations and predicted the Rapture would occur on April 18. When that day came and went, Miller endorsed the calculations of one of his followers, Samuel S. Snow, who presented what became known to the Millerites as “seventh-month message” or the “true midnight cry”.
The actual date of the Rapture would be October 22, 1844, explaining why that marks the date of the “Great Disappointment.” The disappointed Millerites developed a doctrine, known as the “Pre-Advent Divine Investigative Judgment” that teaches that the judgment of God’s professed people began on October 22, 1844 when Christ entered the Holy of Holies in the heavenly sanctuary.
The post-1844 Millerites’ doctrine eventually formed the basis for the Seventh Day Adventists. So the 1993 Branch Davidians were a cult that emerged from a 1930’s cult that emerged from a 1860’s cult that emerged from a 1840’s cult known as the Millerites.
Even compared to William Miller or Samuel Snow, David Koresh was a nut. And, according to the law enforcement authorities involved — whose word on this issue, I believe, is about as unbiased as an MSNBC analysis of a Barack Obama promise, Koresh’s group engaged in some pretty terrible practices.
I say all this because I don’t want to be accused of having some sense of Christian solidarity with David Koresh. I don’t. But by all accounts, until the standoff, the Branch Davidians were relatively harmless.
The shoot-out that began the standoff was over a misdemeanor warrant that could have been served on Koresh on any day he was in town. The ATF elected to serve the warrant at the compound because they wanted to get a look inside to confirm rumors they heard about the cult’s practices.
Among the facts that unfolded was the fact that the religious rights afforded the Branch Davidians under the 1st Amendment were shredded by the ATF assault that predicated the siege that resulted in the fire that claimed 77 lives — in the service of a Class C misdemeanor warrant.
(The maximum penalty for a Class C misdemeanor conviction in Texas is a fine not to exceed $500.00)
The subsequent Justice Department investigation was a whitewash — the government justified the initial ATF assault based on the Davidian’s cult practices, which were, for good or ill, protected by the 1st Amendment.
The Waco Siege came only a year after the violent confrontation between the Weaver family and federal agents that left Weaver’s wife and fourteen year old son dead.
(Fourteen year old Sam Weaver was shot in the back by a US marshal as he fled their assault. Weaver’s wife was shot in the face by an FBI sniper while she stood in the doorway nursing their 18 month old daughter.)
Law enforcement officials justified sending six armed US marshals to assault and arrest Weaver based on a misdemeanor failure to appear warrant. The surviving Weavers later sued for wrongful death. The government settled rather than risk going before a jury.
It was shortly after the Waco Siege that something called “the Patriot Movement” started appearing in the headlines. The name was coined to link together various state ‘militias’ — a catch-all name carefully linked to white supremacist groups with ‘Christian’ sounding names.
Gradually, the media and the Clinton administration started using the term ‘ patriot’ to describe the most outrageous fringe racial groups or religious cults they could find links to.
What caught my attention at the time wasn’t the fringe groups the government was highlighting so much as it was the way it demonized the concept of Constitutional patriotism.
In April 1995 I was producing a three-part series for “This Week In Bible Prophecy” under the title, “If You’re Not Paranoid, It’s Because You’re Not Paying Attention.”
The main argument we were advancing was that the so-called patriot movement had a point that the government failed to address — the Clinton administration trumped-up charges to justify military style assaults on two different occasions because it didn’t agree with either group’s religious beliefs.
As I was interviewing Gary Kah for the third part of the series, the news flash came in that the Alfred P Murrah building in Oklahoma City was just blown up. The only two conspirators convicted of the crime both had ties to one of the various ‘patriot militias’ — and from that day forward, being labeled a ‘patriot’ is the equivalent to being a right wing extremist at best, and an incipient bomber at worst.
(In any case, if the government ever labels you a ‘patriot’ it isn’t because you’re being considered for Grand Master of the 4th of July parade. In fact, you won’t even have to read your mail — DHS will read it for you.)
A similar movement is beginning to come to the attention of the Obama administration. Called the ”Oath Keepers” they describe themselves as a “non-partisan” group of current and retired law enforcement and military personnel who vow to fulfill their oaths to the Constitution.
The group was founded by lawyer and former paratrooper Stewart Rhodes, who organized the group to prevent the government from using law enforcement and the military to impose a dictatorship in America.
They promise to disobey orders they deem unlawful, including directives to disarm the American people and to blockade American cities to prevent them from being turned into ‘giant concentration camps.’
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a sort of ACLU for the NAACP, immediately began linking the Oath Keepers with Timothy McVeigh:
“In a July report titled “Return of the Militias,” the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center singled out Oath Keepers as “a particularly worrisome example of the Patriot revival.”
“The Patriot movement, so named because its adherents believe the federal government has stepped on the constitutional ideals of the American Revolution, gained traction in the 1990s and has been closely linked to anti-government militia and white supremacist movements.”
“The movement is blamed for spawning Timothy McVeigh, who bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 people.” (Las Vegas Review Journal)
The founder of the group says he was motivated by the military using a small town in Iowa to train for dropping in by parachute and conducting door-to-door searches in Afghanistan and Iraq. But it could also be used to declare martial law.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the militias are re-emerging partly because of racial animosity toward Obama. Oath Keepers are now on the Law Center’s “Hate Watch” page.
The Oath Keepers promise to keep their pledge, not by taking up arms against the government, but by refusing to turn them on their fellow citizens. In the event they are ordered to violate their oath to defend the Constitution, they pledge to lay down their arms, not take them up.
The government’s reaction to the Oath Keepers is to demonize them as racists, anti-government activists, and, worst of all, patriots! It’s the government that is paranoid — you can tell by how closely they are paying attention.
What they are watching the closest is the thing that scares them the most.
It isn’t al-Qaeda — they’ve practically surrendered there. It’s not Iran — we’re having tea with the Iranians this afternoon. It isn’t the Russians or the Chinese or Venezuela and it certainly isn’t the Taliban.
What scares the Department of Homeland Security the most…are the dreaded American patriots. That speaks volumes.
“The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.” – Proverbs 28:1
Originally Published: October 19, 2009.