Are We To Assume That The Right Now Thinks Ruby Ridge And Waco Were Justified?
Within the last day or so, I have seen conservatives adding to the conversation about Breonna Taylor's murder by getting all het up about people "resisting arrest."
Taylor, of course, was not being arrested. Police were simply barging into her apartment at 1 a.m. in case her ex-boyfriend was having packages of drugs shipped there. They had seen the ex-boyfriend leaving Taylor's apartment with a box they thought might be filled with drugs three months prior, so it was definitely an emergency of some kind and there was no other time when they could have reasonably done this, and no way they could have just executed a search warrant the way they do it on TV where they knock on the door, the person answers it, and they show their badges and say "We are the police and we have a warrant to search your home." No, they definitely had to bust into her apartment at 1 a.m. No other way to do that.
It's not just a stupid argument because it has absolutely nothing to do with the killing of Breonna Taylor, it is a hypocritical argument given the fact that, in the past, conservatives have been very upset about people and their families getting murdered by police for resisting arrest.
Can you guess what the difference was in these situations?
In 1992, the US Marshals Service had a warrant for Randy Weaver's arrest. They went to his home at Ruby Ridge, in Idaho, to arrest him for making and keeping illegal firearms, some of which he had sold to undercover ATF agents. Believing that there was a conspiracy against him and not trusting the United States government, Weaver refused to come out.
Now, the USMS had every reason to believe that Weaver was dangerous. The ATF agents had initially met him at a meeting of the World Aryan Congress, he had apocalyptic beliefs and a cache of illegal firearms. He spoke often of his desire to organize a group to battle "ZOG," the "Zionist Organized Government," a term favored by people who really, really hate Jewish people and believe they are controlling the world. His neighbor had sent letters to local authorities saying that Weaver had threatened to kill the Pope, Idaho's governor, and others.
Law enforcement officers were very scared to try and arrest Randy Weaver, because they did not think it would end well. It didn't. Weaver's friend Kevin Harris was walking with Sammy, Weaver's 12-year-old son, when they encountered the marshals on the property. The marshals shot at the dog, Harris shot and killed one of them, and there was an exchange of gunfire leading to Sammy being killed as well. This then led to an 11-day standoff, including another shootout in which Randy Weaver's wife, Vicki Weaver, was also shot and killed.
Republicans have been furious about this for decades. Rage over what happened at Ruby Ridge has fueled rightwing movements and militias for years. It's fueled acts of terrorism like Timothy McVeigh's bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
They have also been furious about the siege at Waco, which also did not go well. In that case, David Koresh had wanted to resist arrest because he knew that if he didn't go to prison for stockpiling illegal firearms, he'd go to jail for raping 11-year-old girls. He also cited Ruby Ridge as part of the reason he refused to be arrested. This, too, has become a focal point of a lot of rightwing rage.
I have to wonder! Have conservatives today decided that, actually, what happened at Ruby Ridge and Waco was fine and totally justified? As I said a few months ago when the big line on the Right was that unarmed Black people would not get shot by police if they merely "followed the rule of law":
But if you want to be factual about it, the Weavers never would have been shot if Randy Weaver had simply "followed the rule of law" and showed up in court to face charges of selling sawed-off shotguns. Or if he had not sold sawed-off shotguns to ATF agents in the first place. Or sent threatening letters to various government officials. The siege at Waco never would have happened if the Branch Davidians had simply left their compound and "followed the rule of law." Or not have hoarded weapons and allowed their leader to rape teenage girls to begin with!
If you go by conservative logic regarding the murders of unarmed Black people, if you don't "follow the rule of law," if you "resist arrest," you deserve everything that happens to you and so does everyone who happens to be around you at the time. That would mean that they would also have to believe that the people at Waco and the people at Ruby Ridge deserved everything they got. After all, they didn't follow the rule of law and they refused to be arrested.
But for some reason it never works out that way. Heck, just this week a video of a woman getting tased for refusing to be arrested for not wearing a mask has been going viral on rightwing Twitter:
Ohio is staring to look similar to Melbourne. Officer uses taser on girl outdoors at a football scrimmage ... h… https://t.co/gh8X3VlS10— Mythinformed (@Mythinformed)1600913223.0
She wasn't following the rule of law. She was resisting arrest. By Republican rules, the officer should have been allowed to shoot her right there. But they didn't. They tased her, but they didn't shoot her. And boy is the anti-mask Right upset about that!
And you know what? They should be. That woman was an asshole, but that's still excessive force. Shockingly enough, it is not that hard for me to understand that bad things are bad things even if I don't like the person the bad thing is happening to.
It takes an incredible amount of cognitive dissonance to believe so fiercely that what happened to this woman, that what happened at Ruby Ridge and Waco was wrong, but to then go and say that what happened to Breonna Taylor was not the fault of the police officer who killed her. Or that all of these unarmed Black people — who were far less dangerous than Randy Weaver or David Koresh, by the by — also deserve to be shot and killed. It also takes a lot to say, with a straight face, that Randy Weaver and David Koresh had every reason to be suspicious of law enforcement and to then laugh off the idea that Black people, too, might be suspicious of law enforcement.
But they do it. They do it all the time. There is no question in my mind that if Breonna Taylor and Kenneth Walker were white that the NRA would be out there every day defending Walker's right to defend his own home from what he thought were intruders, and that if the Weavers were a Black family, we probably never would have heard anything about it, because the officers wouldn't have even bothered to try to handle things peacefully in the first place. There would not have been an 11-day standoff, that is for damn sure.
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. In addition to her work at Wonkette, she also has a biweekly column at Dame. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse