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MaxE
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20 Dec 2023, 5:50 am

Mona Pereth wrote:
MaxE wrote:
funeralxempire wrote:
I think some of it goes back further, to the John Birch Society.

The John Birch Society were considered a fringe group in their day. Waco was the start of them becoming respectable if not mainstream.

No, the growth of JBS influence over the Republican Party long predates the Waco siege.

See: Library Journal Book Review of Birchers: How the John Birch Society Radicalized the American Right by Matthew Dallek.

See also The Rise of Bircherism by Eleanor J. Bader, The Progressive, February 21, 2022.

Still the average person back then was only vaguely familiar with the John Birch Society. As a college student I had heard of them, but that was just about all. They did have a publication you could read in the library. Maybe they built the bomb but Waco lit the fuse. I am talking about that sort of political view becoming mainstream. In the 80s, the vast majority of conservatives were Reaganites not Birchers.

EDIT I notice the article mentions a conspiracy about Eisenhower being a Communist. That sort of conspiracy theory wasn't taken seriously by many in the 80s, whereas since Waco it's become commonplace e.g. Obama being a secret Muslim which Trump instructs his followers to accept as received truth.


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Mona Pereth
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20 Dec 2023, 10:26 am

MaxE wrote:
Still the average person back then was only vaguely familiar with the John Birch Society. As a college student I had heard of them, but that was just about all. They did have a publication you could read in the library. Maybe they built the bomb but Waco lit the fuse. I am talking about that sort of political view becoming mainstream. In the 80s, the vast majority of conservatives were Reaganites not Birchers.

EDIT I notice the article mentions a conspiracy about Eisenhower being a Communist. That sort of conspiracy theory wasn't taken seriously by many in the 80s, whereas since Waco it's become commonplace e.g. Obama being a secret Muslim which Trump instructs his followers to accept as received truth.

Before the Waco incident, there was the Satanic ritual abuse scare, of the 1980's through the mid-1990's. See:

- Satanic panic, Wikipedia
- Cults That Never Were: The Satanic Ritual Abuse Scare (SRAS)
- Why Satanic Panic never really ended

The Satanic ritual abuse scare, which was the precursor of Pizzagate and QAnon, was truly and fully mainstream during that era. It was embraced by lots of respectable people from all over the political spectrum -- not just conspiracy nuts, and not just right wingers.

The scare had roots on both the right and the left. On the right, it is was rooted in a combination of (1) John Birch Society-style conspiracy theory; (2) the growing religious belief, among Christians, in demons and exorcism; and (3) panic-mongering about the growth of various non-Christian religions. On the left, and especially among feminists, it was rooted in the growing recognition that child sexual abuse is (genuinely) much more common than had previously been believed. This recognition resulted in state and local governments all over the U.S.A. hiring a lot of new, inexperienced child protection service workers.

The scare directly harmed lots of innocent people. Hundreds of probably-innocent child care center workers were arrested, charged, convicted, and sent to prison. Eventually, many of these convictions were overturned. One of the first and best-known examples was the McMartin preschool case.

Concurrently, among psychotherapists, there was a fad for "recovered memories." It was thought that many common psychological problems were due to repressed memories of child sexual abuse. So a lot of psychotherapists didn't just start "believing" their clients' accounts of child sexual abuse, but actively pushed, to their clients, the idea that they might have long-buried memories of child sexual abuse. They then used various techniques, such as hypnosis, to try to "recover" those memories.

It was eventually recognized that some of those techniques could have the effect of implanting false memories. Eventually, some clients sued their psychotherapists for implanting what the clients later concluded were false memories. This, finally, led the mainstream psychotherapy establishment to become much more cautious about the recovery of repressed memories. (For more about the false memory phenomenon, from the point of view of clients, see The Retractors.)

In the majority of cases, the false memories involved garden-variety child sexual abuse, but in some cases they involved "Satanic cults." The initial, paradigmatic example was the best-selling book Michelle Remembers, published in 1980 (see Wikipedia).

The eventual debunking of the Satanic ritual abuse scare provided even more fodder for the conspiracy nuts, who concluded that it was debunked not because many claims were either provably false or, at best, lacking in evidence, but because there was a conspiracy to suppress evidence of the conspiracy.

The Waco incident happened in 1993, at around the same time a lot of books and magazine articles were being published debunking the Satanic ritual abuse scare.


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