In the nineteen years since Waco, we have seen the police state explode in every direction and now we are all ensnared. Some groups are always more threatened than others, but no one is truly safe. The prisons have swollen to the largest detention system since Stalin's gulags. The police conduct three thousand SWAT raids a month. The war on terror has made a total mockery of what remained of the Fourth Amendment. Torture has lost its taboo. So has indefinite detention. The feds irradiate and molest airline passengers by the millions. People are jailed for taking medicine, buying Sudafed, sharing songs, and selling milk. The Kafkaesque regulatory state threatens people of all economic classes with crushing fines and a fate in a cage. The public schools, always authoritarian institutions, have become explicit adjuncts of the criminal justice system and military recruitment offices. Every major police department has tanks and battle rifles and drones are being used for surveillance and God knows what else. Each federal department has enough firepower to conquer a small third-world country. DHS alone has ordered enough ammo to shoot every American man, woman, and child. The president claims the right to kill American citizens anywhere on the planet on his say-so alone. And he exercises that power.
Why do some of us continue to fixate on Waco? If for no other reason, because April 19, 1993 was a squandered opportunity if ever there was one. The people could have risen up and said, "Enough!" They could have demanded the military occupation retreat from their own neighborhoods both the federal presence and its satellite jackboots in the city police. They could have demanded an end to the gun laws, drug war, and federal war on crime, each of which was instrumental in ending the lives of more than twenty children at Waco. They could have turned against the media whose elites stood and applauded the White House as it announced and defended its latest killing spree. They could have seen the federal government for the clear and present danger it obviously poses the only government that had militarily mass murdered American civilians on American soil since the collateral damage at Pearl Harbor. They could have turned their backs on the killers in DC, refusing ever to believe in their lies again, saving the lives of uncountable Americans, Serbians, Afghans, Iraqis, Libyans, Yemenis, Palestinians, and so many others who would bear the wrath of an unhampered imperial executive in the nineteen years to come, sparing the priceless liberties we have seen shredded on the altar of state power.
Instead, they looked the other way, they yawned, even cheered. There might still be time to turn things around. But the tanks are closing in.