[Note: An abridged version of the following article appeared as a "Letter to
the Editor" in the March 15, 1993 issue of the Wall Street Journal.]
The Dreaded Comparison
by John D. Dingell III
As the recent bloodshed has unfolded in Waco, Texas, I was struck by the
sad historical parallel to events fifty years ago in another country. On 27
February 1993, black uniformed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF)
men wearing "coal scuttle" helmets and carrying German-made machine pistols
attacked the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. Fifty years earlier, in
January 1943, black uniformed SS men wearing "coal scuttle" helmets and
carrying German-made machine pistols attacked the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw,
The BATF men were searching for illegal weapons reported to be in the
Branch Davidian compound by a paid informant. The SS men were searching for
illegal weapons reported to be in the Warsaw ghetto by a paid informant.
and harmed no one outside their compound prior to the BATF assault. The Jews
kept to themselves and harmed no one outside the Warsaw ghetto prior to the SS
The US news media luridly reports that the Branch Davidians practice
reprehensible sexual activities involving young women and children, implying
that they are an evil religious "cult". Julius Streicher and the Nazi news
media relentlessly told the German populace that Jews practiced reprehensible
sexual activities involving young women and children, implying that they were
The BATF invited the US news media to document the assault to show how
dangerous the Branch Davidians are. The SS and RSHA (Reich Main Security
Office) propagandists documented their assult to show the German public how
dangerous the Jews were. Four BATF men were killed and 16 wounded in the
inital assault on the Branch Davidian compound, apparently because someone
told them about the impending assault. Eleven SS men were killed and an
unrecorded number wounded in the inital assault on the Warsaw ghetto, because
sympathetic Poles in the Zgota organization told the Jews about the impending
After the inital assault, the BATF magnaminiously arranged a truce so
children could be evacuated from the Branch Davidian compound (and they could
arranged a truce so children could be evacuated from the Warsaw ghetto
compound (and they could remove their casualities.)
The BATF called up FBI and US military units with armored vehicles to
finish off the Branch Davidian compound after encountering fierce resistance
to the inital assault. The SS called up Waffen SS military units with armored
vehicles to finish off the Warsaw ghetto armory after encountering fierce
resistance to their initial assualt.
The historical analogy may seem specious, but it is quite valid when you
consider that the BATF and the SS had the same kind of opportunism motivating
1. The SS personnel stationed in the General Government of Poland were
trying to improve their image with superiors in Berlin by staging a
well-publicized attack upon a politically powerless group. Most of the SS
personell stationed in Poland had been sent there because they had fallen
afoul in Nazi political infighting, not because they wanted to contend with a
unrelentingly hostile population on a daily basis.
2. The BATF personnel in Waco were trying to improve their image with the
US public by staging a well-publicized attack on an equally powerless group.
Even before BATF was accused of racial and sexual harassment on the CBS "60
Minutes" program in early February, they had the worst reputation in US
Federal Law Enforcement (with the sole exception of the Explosives Branch,
which has done some very professional work.)
BATF is attacking an eccentric religious sect which few identify with. But as
each individual freedom embodied in the US Constitution is disparaged, living
in America becomes more akin to living in a Nazi state.
Americans who dismiss the assault in Waco should consider what later
happened in Warsaw, after the General Uprising in 1944: the SS laid waste to
the remainder of the city. The Nazis not only killed three million Polish
Jews, they also killed three million other Poles before World War II was over.
Many of the Poles who stood by smugly as the SS destroyed the Warsaw ghetto -
because they didn't care enough for the Jews - paid with their own lives later
The Waco, Texas incident is a clear example of how little respect the U.S.
government has for its own Consitution. The BATF not only trampled the
politically incorrect Second Amendment, they made a mockery of the First and
Fourth Amendments as well. The American public needs to seriously consider
whether anyone can be safe in a country where police are allowed to stage the
kind of deadly publicity stunt which occured in Waco.
Even if Americans don't care about their right to keep and bear arms, I
would hope that they have some sympathy for freedom of religion and protection
against unreasonable searches. Religion is a matter of personal choice and not
subject to government or news media approval - except in police state
The US news media has spent considerable efforts in recent weeks
denouncing a genuinely reprehensible assault by paramilitary police in El
Salvador which left six Jesuit priests and their housekeeper dead, but they
tactitly approve of a similar assault here in America. there seems to be a
remarkable degree of hypocrisy on the part of the news media in this country
today. The news media vigorously defends all manner of questionable
individuals to maintain the sanctity of the press freedoms in the First
Amendment, but they pick and choose among other American constitutional
freedoms as their politics dictate.
BATF director Stephen Higgens and the American news media have used
weapons present in the Branch Davidian compound to justify the derogatory term
"cult" used to describe them. Many Jewish rabbis in Israel carry Uzi machine
pistols openly every day, yet no one calls them a "cult" religion. It is
hardly surprising that the Branch Davidians had weapons, given the apocolyptic
nature of their beliefs.
Stephen Higgens stated on CBS' "Face the Nation" program that the "no
knock" assault on the Branch Davidian compound was necessary to prevent a mass
suicide on the part of the "cult" members. He evidently was not very well
informed, because the Branch Davidians' determined response to the assault
certainly wasn't that of a group ready to give up this world. And it certainly
of evidence had a convential search warrant execution been followed. It is
difficult to flush weapons and explosives down a toilet. There is every reason
to suspect that the assault on the Branch Davidian compound was staged, in the
fashion that it was, to provide compelling film clips for television viewing.
Steven Higgens also stated that the person(s) yet to be determined were
responsible for leaking the impending assault to the Branch Davidians that
resulted in bloodshed. I submit that the BATF, by informing the news media of
the impending assault and making arrangements for news media camera crews to
cover the "action", breached the security of their operation and should be
held accountable for the subsequent bloodshed. Mr. Higgens is being entirely
hypocritical in his efforts to evade responsibility for the logical outcome of
the BATF assault.
Fifty years may have passed since the Allied forces crushed the Nazis, but
their totalitarian philosophy of "ordnung" continues to reappear under new
guises, in different places. How far will it develop in America??
John D. Dingell III is a metallurgical engineer. he lives in Wyandotte,
I looked at this Waco thing as Koresh and company getting what they
deserved. Now I'm not so sure. I was sufficiently shaken up by this article to
want you all to read it and let me know what you think. If you didn't, please
go back and read at least the first part of it. It's pretty astonishing. Does
anyone have any comments about this?
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