1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Malcolm Gladwell: David Koresh was just misunderstood!

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Dick Whitman, Mar 26, 2014.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    One of the survivors has a new memoir out, so it's timely:


    To me, Gladwell strains in a couple areas:

    1) The rehabilitation of David Koresh. The fact that the standoff started with the deaths of 10 people in a firefight, including four federal agents, is basically glossed over in service to Gladwell's working hypothesis that Koresh, eh, not such a bad guy. Gladwell explains to us that the Branch Davidians were just running an innocent little side business in which they sold guns at gun shows - of course, if I recall, Koresh took leadership of the sect at gunpoint from the prior nut-kabob who was running things. After Koresh bedded the guy's 80-year-old wife.

    (His sexual proclivities get a little more time, but, ultimately, it seems like Gladwell rationalizes them in the name of Koresh's belief system.)

    2) It's Malcolm Gladwell, so he has to try to make the piece Gladwellian. So we get some material about how the negotiators were using tactics they would use on "goals-driven" entities, rather than "values-driven" entities. I think it's half-hearted and unnecessary. The story is compelling enough.
  2. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    Tony Lane wishes he could have goo'd over Koresh's sexual proclivities.

    Thanks for the link. 20 years has flown by.

    "Near Waco" ...
  3. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    It's like Paper Moon, but for Australians and without the scamming.
  4. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    Maybe Koresh was a tobacco executive and that's why Gladwell feels indebted to him and is willing to carry his water.
  5. Kato

    Kato Active Member

    I'm not sure I feel like Gladwell rationalizes anything. I guess I read it a little more straight forward, or at least felt I was given a reason to look at the situation through a somewhat different lens than the narrative I remember. And I didn't come away thinking Koresh was not such a bad guy; I certainly don't condone his/the Davidians' practices.

    I do agree that the initial firefight before the standoff was glossed over and would have liked more background on that or least a more descriptive reminder of what happened there.

    As for the "goals-driven" vs. "values-driven" part, I found that to be the most compelling part of the article. The idea was that the FBI was negotiating on a much different premise than the situation actually called for. But they had no clue. Perhaps if they understood the group more, a lot less blood could have been spilled. They thought the Davidians were imprisoned there and that their leaders had a goal in mind to end the standoff. But they weren't hostages. There was no endgame. The FBI didn't understand that.

    I't wasn't until someone actually found a way to communicate with Koresh on his level that a breakthrough happened, and the government decided to invade the compound anyway.

    I think the lesson here is that our government needs to understand groups like this better, not to defend or condone them. But understand what they're all about, who they're hurting (or not hurting), maybe understand who's extreme and not extreme and, certainly, how to talk to them when they have to.
  6. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    In line with Kato in that it's more straight-forward for me.

    This part gets me:

    Baffles me. Not that I don't understand but that this man's instinct was that Koresh may have just wanted to bang his 14-year-old like a perv ... but on the other hand, HE MIGHT BE THE LAMB!

  7. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    These are very good points - the transcripts were quite compelling. It was like the Branch Davidians, and Koresh in particular, just could not make the agents understand that they weren't being held there against their will.

    I'll put it this way, which I think might be more accurate: I think that with the "goals-driven" and "values-driven" material, Gladwell strains a little to shoehorn Gladwell buzzwords into the story. In fact, I'm surprised they weren't capitalized.
  8. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    To be clear, you're recommending this lengthy article because it's bad?
  9. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

    I'm amazed at how some people defend Koresh's pedophilia either because they think he was a holy man or because they hate the government with every ounce of their being.
  10. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    If Jesus -- unlike Mohammad -- wasn't diddling young girls, why would anyone expect the "Lamb" to diddle young girls?

    That alone should be a sign he isn't the "Lamb".
  11. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    No. I'm recommending it so that people here realize that I read the New Yorker. There are new members signing up all the time.
  12. Well, let's be clear here that David Koresh didn't become Evil Pedophile David Koresh until after the initial shootout. Then that became a popular talking point because it made the initial raid and subsequent siege much more palatable: "The feds aren't trying to kill the children, they're trying to *save* them."

    And I'm not minimizing the child abuse allegations; but Koresh was charged with some incredibly minor and largely manufactured gun crimes and could have easily been arrested without incident on many occasions. But the cops wanted to play RAMBO and conduct a military-style raid on a compound filled with these little kids they were trying to "save."

    After the disaster in the initial raid, the grownups should have taken over. Instead, the opposite happened. The siege became about settling scores for their dead colleagues.

    Koresh was certainly a nut job. But at the end of the day, 80 human beings died in the Waco incident. And a lot of Americans were able to look the other way -- or even joke about it -- because the government had so effectively vilified the people in there. And clearly that attitude still persists to this day.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page