Advertisement

Revisiting Waco and the Branch Davidian Tragedy

  • Jennifer Dawes
Chapter

Abstract

Twenty-five years ago, the deadliest standoff in US law enforcement history began on the outskirts of Waco, Texas. The confrontation between the Branch Davidians (an offshoot of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church) and the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) at the Davidians’ Mount Carmel Center lasted fifty-one days and took the lives of seventy-six people. When the standoff came to its fiery end on April 19, 1993 media reports were quick to label the Branch Davidians a “cult” and their leader David Koresh a “madman.” The name “Waco” became synonymous with the standoff in the public imagination, a connection that city officials have actively worked to shed.

The conflicting narratives that emerged about the standoff as well as the popularity of Mount Carmel as a tourist destination underscore the difficulty city officials faced in addressing their city’s negative association with what became known as the “Waco siege.” Using her own first-hand accounts of the site as well as archival research, Dawes examines the multiple perspectives of the siege and explores the ways in which Mount Carmel has become a dark tourist destination. She argues that dark tourism at Mount Carmel, like that at other dark sites, works to create a sense of empathy for the suffering of others.

Bibliography

  1. Assmann, Aleida. 2015. Forms of Forgetting. Frankfurt Humanities Research Centre, April 29. https://electure-ms.studiumdigitale.unifrankfurt.de/vod/clips/xkAbEqaHKV/flash.html. Accessed 21 Feb 2019.
  2. Brown, Angela K. 2007. New Religious Community Slated for Branch Davidian Site. Tuscaloosanews.com, April 21. https://www.tuscaloosanews.com/news/20070421/new-religious-community-slated-for-branch-davidian-site. Accessed 24 Jan 2019.
  3. Clark, Laurie Beth. 2014. Ethical Spaces: Ethics and Propriety in Trauma Tourism. In Death Tourism: Disaster Sites as Recreational Landscape, ed. Brigitte Sion, 9–35. London: Seagull Books.Google Scholar
  4. CNN. 2016. Waco Massacre CNN Coverage. YouTube, uploaded by Dan Holman, February 8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rbhq89xFmMc.
  5. Dowdle, John Erick and Drew Dowdle, creators. 2018. Waco. Paramount Network.Google Scholar
  6. England, Mark. 1993a. Cult Looters to Face Fence. Waco Tribune-Herald, June 29. 1A.Google Scholar
  7. ———. 1993b. Judge May Free Cultist. Waco Tribune-Herald, May 28. 1C.Google Scholar
  8. England, Mark, and Darlene McCormick. 1993. The Sinful Messiah. Parts 1–7. Waco Tribune-Herald, February 27, 28 and March 1.Google Scholar
  9. Ericksen, Phillip. 2018. 25 Years Later, Waco Aims Past Notoriety that Followed Branch Davidian Saga. Waco Tribune-Herald, February 27. https://www.wacotrib.com/news/branch_davidians/years-later-waco-aims-past-notoriety-that-followed-branch-davidian/article_552ea15b-b42d-53e2-902f-2e9507ae3b07.html. Accessed 24 Jan 2019.
  10. Foote, Kenneth E. 2003. Shadowed Ground: America’s Landscapes of Violence and Tragedy. Revised Edition. Austin: UT Press.Google Scholar
  11. Hall, Michael. 2003. The Ghosts of Mount Carmel. Texas Monthly, April. https://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/the-ghosts-of-mount-carmel/. Accessed 24 Jan 2019.
  12. Hoover, Carl. 2018. ‘Waco’ Series Creators Warn Against ‘Us Versus Them’ Mentality.” Waco Tribune-Herald, January 23. https://www.wacotrib.com/news/branch_davidians/waco-series-creators-warn-against-us-versus-them-mentality/article_f7a4f264-fc18-5f6d-bf72-f03598540328.html. Accessed 24 Jan 2019.
  13. Lomax, John Nova. 2016. The Apostle of the Devil. Texas Monthly, June 3. https://www.texasmonthly.com/the-daily-post/the-apostle-of-the-devil/. Accessed 24 Jan 2019.
  14. McCormick, Darlene. 1993. Site Leveled, Quarantine Considered. Waco Tribune-Herald, May 13, 1A.Google Scholar
  15. McMurtry, Larry. 1993. A Return to Waco. The New Republic. June 6. https://newrepublic.com/article/95597/waco-siege-atf-fire-david-koresh-return. Accessed 15 Dec 2018.
  16. Mr. Danforth’s Verdict on Waco. 2000. The New York Times, July 25. https://www.nytimes.com/2000/07/25/opinion/mr-danforth-s-verdict-on-waco.html. Accessed 21 Feb 2019.
  17. Paris, Natalie. 2016. Dark Tourism: Why Are We Attracted to Tragedy and Death? The Telegraph, Febraury 23. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/comment/Dark-tourism-why-are-we-attracted-to-tragedy-and-death/. Accessed 24 Feb 2019.
  18. Roberts, Catherine. 2018. Educating the (Dark) Masses: Dark Tourism and Sensemaking. In The Palgrave Handbook of Dark Tourism Studies, ed. Philip R. Stone et al., 603–637. London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ronson, Jon. 2002. Them: Adventures with Extremists. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  20. Seaton, Tony. 2018. Encountering Engineered and Orchestrated Remembrance: A Situational Model of Dark Tourism and Its History. In The Palgrave Handbook of Dark Tourism Studies, ed. Philip R. Stone et al., 9–31. London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Seaton, Tony, and Graham M.S. Dann. 2018. Crime, Punishment, and Dark Tourism: The Carnivalesque Spectacles of the English Judicial System. In The Palgrave Handbook of Dark Tourism Studies, ed. Philip R. Stone et al., 33–76. London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Smith, J.B. 2013. 20 Years Later, No Public Memorials, Ceremonies Mark Mount Carmel Saga. Waco Tribune-Herald, February 28. https://www.wacotrib.com/news/mclennan_county/years-later-no-public-memorials-ceremonies-mark-mount-carmel-saga/article_d5ed44bb-51dd-5f81-80f0-f6a8a2357979.html. Accessed 29 Mar 2019.
  23. Stone, Phillip R. Ethics of Dark Tourism: Towards a Model of Morality in Secular Society. Current Issues in Dark Tourism Research. Issue No. E0002-2017-PS. http://www.dark-tourism.org.uk.
  24. Sturken, Marita. 2007. Tourists of History: Memory, Kitsch, and Consumerism from Oklahoma City to Ground Zero. Durham, NC: Duke UP.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Tabor, James D., and Eugene V. Gallagher. 1995. Why Waco? Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America. Berkeley: UC Press.Google Scholar
  26. Talerico, Teresa. 1996. Mount Carmel Becomes Unwanted Tourist Attraction. Waco Tribune-Herald, February 25, 8A.Google Scholar
  27. Thibodeau, David. 2016. A Waco Survivor Describes What Really Happened (1999). YouTube, uploaded by Remember This, June 16. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfoT6WTA57I.
  28. Thibodeau, David with Leon Whiteson and Aviva Layton. 2018. Waco: A Survivor’s Story. New York: Hachette Books.Google Scholar
  29. Tilove, Jonathan. 2018. A Quarter Century Later, ‘Dark Theories’ Still Hover Over Waco Siege. Austin American-Stateman. September 25. https://www.statesman.com/news/20180416/a-quarter-century-later-dark-theories-still-hover-over-waco-siege. Accessed 24 Feb 2019.
  30. [Waco] Branch Davidians: Joe Robert Collection, Accession #3205, Box 3, Folder 9, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.Google Scholar
  31. [Waco] Branch Davidians: “The Facts About Mt. Carmel” Exhibit Collection, Accession #3811, Box 1, Folder 3, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.Google Scholar
  32. Washington, Jesse. n.d. The Waco Horror: What Does It Mean to Share a Name with the Victim of One of the Most Infamous Lynchings in American History? The Undefeated. https://theundefeated.com/features/the-waco-horror/. Accessed 14 Jan 2019.
  33. Wattenberg, Daniel. 1993. Gunning for Koresh. The American Spectator August, 31–34.Google Scholar
  34. Witherspoon, Tommy. 1993. Court Order to Keep Out Trespassers. Waco Tribune-Herald, May 13, 1A.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Dawes
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of English, Humanities, and PhilosophyMidwestern State UniversityWichita FallsUSA

Personalised recommendations