The Ruby Ridge Echo
Agree or not with their views, the federal siege on the Weaver family began an awakening which has rewritten American history.
August 21, 2017 will be the 25th anniversary of an oft-forgotten event. A simple family, living on a remote ridge in northern Idaho, became the focus of an intense, 11 day siege by federal authorities, one which received global media attention. When the dust finally settled three people — a federal agent, the family matriarch Vicki Weaver, and 14 year-old son and brother Samuel Weaver — lay dead, and a nation paused in wonder over what had occurred.
I am not here to rehash the particulars of what happened at Randy Weaver’s mountain cabin; there are several books on the subject which tell the tale much better than I am able in a small space, along with plenty of easily-found documentaries on YouTube. What is seldom discussed, however, is how the echo of Ruby Ridge has reverberated for the last 25 years, and affects us to this day. Most people do not realize it, but it was one of the most important pivot points in American history.
The most immediate result was in how many viewed federal law enforcement agencies. From the FBI to the Marshal’s Service to the BATF, the image-rehabilitation those agencies undertook during the Reagan era was laid to waste. Now, there was no doubt that if your views were considered ‘extreme’ by those-in-power they would literally murder you; what was once considered fodder for conspiracy theorists had become stark reality, a reality which exists to this very day.
Another immediate effect was on the National Rifle Association [NRA]. Once basically a club for hunters and shooting enthusiasts, Ruby Ridge began a shift in how the organization saw itself. Eventually referring to federal agents as ‘jack-booted thugs,’ the NRA altered its primary focus to lobbying efforts for defense of second amendment. It has become one of the most powerful and important advocates for Liberty in the modern era, yet one has to wonder if that would have even occurred had not Ruby Ridge sparked the change in focus.
Another understanding which began at the time, though it took longer to germinate, was in how the mainstream media establishes ‘narratives.’ Before 1992 the notion that the media was biased was just under the surface; people suspected it, but the tangibility of the accusation could not be firmly proven. By watching how the Rudy Ridge story unfolded through said-media, however, one was given a course in “American Propaganda: 101.”
We saw, through live television and newspapers, how modern narratives are established. The Weavers were initially portrayed as radical white supremacists, heavily armed while holed up in an impenetrable, booby-trapped mountaintop fortress; Vicki, in particular, was demonized as a maniacal matriarch who was so committed to her cause she would execute her own children before surrendering the fight. When the truth ended up being far different than the story being told trust in media began to to slide, and while it took years to reach its current barrel-bottom level the coverage of Ruby Ridge was the seed which began that mistrust.
But the most telling result of Ruby Ridge, and the one which took the longest to come to fruition, was its effect on the Right. For one to understand how the its resurgence has taken root today one must grasp Rudy Ridge’s importance, which cannot be overstated. It is not a direct connection, but it is a critical.
Over a period of time after Ruby Ridge people on the ‘moderate’ right began to question the narratives, and — along with them — accepted ‘truths.’ “What if we have been lied to about ‘right-wing’ notions,” people began to quietly ask themselves, which lead to, “What if we are being lied to about globalism?” which ended up at, “What if we’ve been lied to about… everything.” They undoubtedly did not have Ruby Ridge directly in mind while asking these questions, but events have a way of affecting us on a subconscious level, and the siege was certainly one of those events.
Quietly, of course (because even back then people faced professional, social and personal consequences for speaking against the narratives), people wondered and worried about the course of our nation. Ideas like ‘white guilt,’ ‘diversity,’ and ‘multiculturalism’ were slowly being put under a microscope, and said-ideas were found to be wanting.
The slow burn continued to grow. Many conservatives began embracing the basic concepts of cultural Nationalism (which was in ways embodied by the stand the Weavers made), with most — though certainly not all — leaving the racial and doomsday elements behind. The political culture began to shift, people asking ‘radical’ questions became far less quiet (allowing voices which would have been cowered into silence two decades ago to speak boldly from public platforms), and before anyone realized it the fire turned into an inferno. The Right became a real force in America, and I do not think this transpires without the initial spark Ruby Ridge provided.
Look, no one is denying the Weavers had radical beliefs, and that the modern Right’s political and philosophical ideas are different from what they held; such things exist not in a vacuum, and are subject to evolution. However, the most basic principles which were at the core of the standoff — that people should be free to think, worship, and raise their children as they choose (without harassment — or threat of violence — from their government), that the fundamental rights of the people are absolute, that rugged individualism matters — remain in the core of the Right today.
Core principles, once considered American principles, for which one family was willing to die. Principles, which were openly, violently attacked by our federal government 25 years ago… on a remote ridge in northern Idaho.