Texas Outlaw Writers Newsletter: The Fire Still Burns Edition

Texas Outlaw Writers Newsletter: The Fire Still Burns Edition
30 years ago. 

A packed issue this week, so pace yourself. I'll lead off with a piece that I've been working on for a while.  

Today marks a significant anniversary.

Fire tore through the Branch Davidian compound thirty years ago, and it is not an exaggeration to say that the resulting fury still burns for many. The flames took 78 lives, including the cult's messianic leader David Koresh. (That figure does not include the 4 ATF agents and 6 Davidians killed in the initial assault.) Koresh may not have been the Second Coming (as he told his followers and the FBI,) but the siege, the 51-day standoff, and the inferno arguably did give Koresh a certain immortality, at least with his followers and the dissident movement that arose from the smoldering embers.

The "press pack" that covered the tragedy would quickly number in the hundreds. Satellite trucks and press crews lined the road to Mt. Carmel in what would grow into a dark spectacle. The story was broadcast to a world audience, in real-time. Correspondents desperately sought out witnesses and experts. They attended press conference after press conference - all of them led by law enforcement officials. These were officials speaking for agencies that had ordered the catastrophic raid on the compound and would later order the deadly assault that cost the lives of nearly the entire religious sect - including innocent women and children.

In the span of minutes, emotional responses to the unfolding story might include anger, sorrow, despair... and to deal with it, there was sometimes humor. Everyone that was out there for any length of time would never forget it.

I certainly haven't.

The Waco Fire and Diamonds Are Forever | Texas Outlaw Writers
30 years ago today, the Branch Davidian compound outside of Waco, TX went up in flames. 78 Davidians including their messianic leader, David Koresh died in the conflagration. For 51 days, hundreds of reporters from all over the world covered the siege, standoff, and fire. It was surreal.

Roger Gray dodged a bullet this week. Well, he may have dodged a bullet, but he went running into a political minefield instead. He almost wrote about the Dominion lawsuit. Instead, he went long, crossing over the hottest of hot-button issues. You know Rog... he's extremely non-extremist. And it makes so many folks mad that he won't cheerlead for their team.

We can all remember when the grand arguments between left and right used to be about equality of the races and medical care for the elderly. Now those arguments revolve around drag queen story hour and the gender of your M&Ms. You know, the important stuff. The stuff that really gets your knickers in a twist.

Whatever He’s For, I’m Against | Texas Outlaw Writers
Our politics have gotten so trivial, we’re down to drag queens, light beer, M&Ms, and Cracker Barrel. We’re doing this at the expense of things, important things, that need doing.

And then there are the political arguments over inconsequential things like... reading.

We seem, too often, to be arguing about the wrong things. We use terms like “woke” as if it actually meant something evil. And instead of trying to find common ground on issues like education and environment and individual rights, we get caught up in meaningless entanglements over what our children should learn and read, as if we can hide the world from them as they grow, and come of age. All this has come into sharp relief in the past few weeks out in the hill country town of Llano, where elected officials are threatening to close down the public library system because of a few titles they don’t like. A judge has ordered them to back off and leave the books alone. So the city is planning to fight it out in court even as it suffers negative publicity. Llano is a beautiful little town on a lovely limestone river, which Outlaw Jim Moore visits often, and sizes up the situation and what it might mean to us all…

To Read is to Fly | Texas Outlaw Writers
“I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.” —Anna Quindlen

The propaganda over the Second Amendment is so ubiquitous these days, that it's easy to forget how recent the argument is that it gives anyone and every one the absolute right to have any type of firearm that they want at any time. As recently as the 90's, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger said,

The Gun Lobby’s interpretation of the Second Amendment is one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American People by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime. The real purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that state armies – the militia – would be maintained for the defense of the state. The very language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon he or she desires.
-Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Warren Burger, served '69 - '86

(Justice Burger, if you know your history, was no screaming liberal. He was appointed by Nixon and was a known homophobe. He served to "counter" some of the "liberal" decisions of the previous Warren Court.)

When Daniel Perry (who went to a BLM protest he didn’t support and then killed a man he’d never met) was pronounced guilty of murder recently, Governor Greg Abbott almost instantaneously announced that he would seek a pardon for him. Myra Jolivet believes that the Second Amendment "has been weaponized" to stifle the first amendment. From peaceful protestors to working politicians, it seems the threat of gun violence is now a constant.

Using the 2nd Amendment to Battle the 1st Amendment | TX Outlaw Writers
Another example of the thousand cuts extremist Republicans employ to sabotage democracy.