August 22nd will be the 25th anniversary of what is popularly called “Ruby Ridge.” Most readers my age or older will remember Ruby Ridge well, but it is possible there are some younger individuals reading this without that same cognizance of the events.
The name refers to a mountaintop in Northern Idaho where — in 1992 — a man named Randy Weaver and his family ended up in a prolonged, armed standoff with the federal government that ended in the death of his wife and 14-year-old son.
An excellent book on the story by Jess Walter — a writer who at that time was based nearby and covered the events in person — gives the following back cover summation of it:
On the last hot day of summer in 1992, gunfire cracked over a rocky knob in northern Idaho, just south of the Canadian border. By the next day three people were dead, and a small war was joined, pitting the full might of federal law enforcement against one well-armed family. Drawing on extensive interviews with Randy Weaver’s family, government insiders, and others, Jess Walter traces the paths that led the Weavers to their confrontation with federal agents and led the government to treat a family like a gang of criminals.
This is the story of what happened on Ruby Ridge: the tragic and unlikely series of events that destroyed a family, brought down the number two man in the FBI, and left in its wake a nation increasingly attuned to the dangers of unchecked federal power. (Jess Walter, Ruby Ridge: The Truth and Tragedy of The Randy Weaver Family [New York: HarperCollins, 1995]. Originally published under the title Every Knee Shall Bow.)
As the blurb indicates, the fallout of Ruby Ridge was immense, and today the question of its significance remains important. The two-and-a-half decades since then have provided a vast frame of reference within which to view it, and it is worth reflecting back on what happened and examining the additional insights that can be gleaned.
The story of Ruby Ridge is of particular importance to me because of the proximity of its events to where I grew up.
My parents had decided to move to Boundary County, Idaho (where Ruby Ridge is located) exactly one year before the events would take place, and — although only six years old at the time — I remember well what it was like there when it happened. I lived less than 10 miles away, and I vividly recall going to breakfast at a local restaurant during the standoff and seeing national guardsmen who had been flown in.
We would watch the news each night to learn what was going on, and I remember that I loved the chance to see all the big guns and helicopters and soldiers that had arrived in the town as a result of it, and I fully believed at the time that Randy Weaver was an evil, hateful man as the media reporting suggested.
The Weaver family had arrived in the community less than a decade before my own family. They were originally from Iowa, and after Randy and his wife (Vicky) got married and began having children, they also started to embrace the beliefs that would indirectly lead to her death. They became exemplars of what most people today would call the “Christian Identity” movement, becoming intensely devoted Christians who referred to God as “Yahweh” and yet also viewed their Christianity through a somewhat race-focused lens.
Beyond this, they also began to believe the U.S. was on a violently ill-conceived track, and would soon fall apart, and as a result they moved to Northern Idaho in an attempt to become self-sufficient and live of the land in preparation for the country’s collapse. There they found many others of similar beliefs with whom they would become close.
Jess Walter described this large group of connected families as: “A blurring continuum of home schoolers, Christian survivalists, apocalyptics, John Birchers, Posse Comitatus members, constitutionalists, tax protesters, Identity Christians, and neo-Nazis.”
Yet the Weavers were in many ways quite normal, and while they did live in a cabin they had built themselves way up on a mountaintop, Randy also worked at a local mill for many years, was pleasant with most everyone (many of our neighbors were on friendly terms with him), and even launched a not-that quixotic bid for county sheriff in the late 1980’s, although he did end up garnering only a relatively small percentage of the vote.
The decision that would prove so eventful for the Weaver’s was choosing to attend a 4th of July party at the Aryan Nations compound of Richard Butler located several towns away. The Weavers made no further contacts with Butler’s extended group after it, but the ATF saw an opportunity and attempted to turn Randy into a confidential informant through an entrapment campaign that — as Walter’s book objectively yet clearly shows — was of a strongly unethical if not illegal nature.
Randy refused their attempt — which involved asking him to infiltrate some militia group of Montana constitutionalists or militiamen or something similar — and a long and messy line of incidents followed that ended up with him charged with what would have been a relatively minor crime, but missing the trial after being told the wrong court date. From there things escalated further, and eventually he and his family went up to their cabin and refused to come down.
The government sent a large group of agents there to figure out how to bring him in, and one day while several of them were doing surveillance around the Weaver’s cabin (armed and wearing camouflage), the Weaver’s dogs scented them, and soon Randy, his son Samuel, and their family friend Kevin Harris found themselves in a firefight with what (unbeknownst to them) were federal agents.
Moments later two people were dead. Fourteen-year-old Samuel had been shot in the back, and one of the federal agents had also been killed. Kevin Harris was wounded, and he and Randy had retreated to the cabin. From there the standoff escalated even further, before ending after Vicky Weaver was shot in the forehead (while holding her infant daughter Elisheba), and Randy and his remaining family members surrendered.
The standoff had been one of the first examples of a cable news/live tv ratings-bonanza, with Geraldo Riviera even flying over the cabin in a helicopter and afterward claiming to have been shot at. The liberal media had successfully painted Weaver as a psychopathic racist and Neo-Nazi, who rigged his property with landmines and forced his wife to use a “menstrual hut,” yet in the aftermath of the incident public opinion steadily moved more and more to Weaver’s side, and many of the media-spun “facts” about the Weavers were exposed as fabrications. There had been raucous anti-government protesters at the base of the mountain during the standoff supporting the Weavers, and over the next few months in the aftermath of the tragedy more and more normal Americans came to sympathize with the family as well. The famous attorney Gerry Spence volunteered to be Randy’s lawyer pro-bono, and not only did he and Kevin Harris avoid prison, they along with Randy’s surviving daughters were granted millions of dollars in settlement money from the government.
My own thoughts about the tragedy roughly followed this same trajectory. As noted, at the time as a young child I naturally believed the media’s narrative about the events, but as I began to learn additional facts here and there as I grew up, and eventually read Walter’s impressively thorough and well-researched book, my opinion shifted completely, and I became horrified at the government’s actions. I hiked up to the remnants of the tiny cabin, and marveled at how any an agent could shoot at it and not expect to kill the woman and children inside. I even created a Facebook group commemorating the tragedy, and helped several out of town groups hike up to the cabin to pay their own respects (I have since moved away from that area, I should add, and also quit using Facebook as a tool of the devil Zuckerburgs).
I wouldn’t attribute too much of my current political thinking to this personal connection with the events however, as I see virtually no line or relationship between a lot of the Weavers’ beliefs and those of myself or Identitarianism specifically. However I do think the incident had an impact on a wide swath of Americans, including us.
Firstly, I think it was symbolic of the shift that had, by 1992, occurred in America and Europe. The Baby-Boomer left was by that point ascendant, and while technically Ruby Ridge happened during the last months of George Bush’s presidency rather than during Bill Clinton’s, I think both it and Clinton’s victory were harbingers of the Cultural-Marxist, hippy-ish utopianism that would reign from the 1990s onward, that viewed anything “survivalist”-related or “separatist”-based as a threat to the “happy commune” vision such leaders shared. Hillary Clinton’s “it takes a village” cliché accurately summed up this dynamic, and anyone who wanted to homeschool their children, own guns, or live off the land was increasingly viewed as a threat to that “village” and its proper functioning.
Secondly, I think it is clear that Ruby Ridge supercharged the libertarian movement that would eventually attain significant size, most notably in the campaigns of Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012. While some would claim economic libertarianism was “mainstream” in the Goldwater and Reagan years, real, devoted, big-“L” Libertarians had not really existed before the early 1990s. The events at Ruby Ridge- along with Waco, the success of big government types like Al Gore in attacking gun ownership, and the continual degradation of our fiat currency as a result of massive sovereign debt and money printing — all catalyzed the significant growth in Libertarianism that occurred from the early ’90s onward (and it bears noting that Libertarianism was a movement many of us came through on our way to Identitarianism).
Thirdly, I think the tragedy does have a tangential connection to Identitarianism and Traditionalism and the views of people like ourselves. Again, this is not through any direct line between our beliefs and 1990s “old right,” but simply because the events at Ruby Ridge showed many European-Americans that they and the government were no longer part of the same “us.”
I wrote about this same subject for Counter-Currents last year when describing the very favorable view of Russia many white Trump-supporters had that so many liberals found puzzling (based in the fact that modern Russia is far more like the historical America than the current America is). My contention was and is that events like Ruby Ridge — along with post-1965 mass-migration, sanctuary cities, philo-Islamism, transgender-insanity, and countless similar things — forced white Americans to recognize the vast success liberals had had in radically remaking the country. As a result, many of us born in the 1980s and later grew up never really viewing ourselves and the government as a “we,” and Ruby-Ridge was a definite part of that.
This evolution of our relationship with our governments leads to my final conclusion, which is that — while very much a recognizable landmark of 1990s history and naturally associated with that era — Ruby Ridge had even more in common with the world of today than it did the world in which it took place.
Consider the evidence for this. Randy Weaver, in his actions and beliefs, was not very dissimilar to countless American men who had come before him. There have been no shortage of white, Christian men throughout American history who owned guns, hunted their own food, built their own house, didn’t want to be around people of other cultures, and did not like or trust the government. If we were to go back in time, to towns in New Hampshire, Iowa, Tennessee, Colorado, or Oregon, in the 1690s, 1750s, 1880s, or 1910s, we would likely meet many men just like Randy Weaver. Yet today men like that legitimately fear the government, and rightfully so, as the government considers them a threat to its “new vision” of America.
The same is true in Europe. In Sweden recently a 70-year-old women was put in prison for a social media post describing the (demonstrably true) fact that local migrants were defecating in the street and setting cars on fire. In Germany, native German citizens who are opposed to the Islamization of the country routinely have their houses raided, and are (quite literally) carted off to jail for making anti-immigration “hate speech” comments online. In Canada, the government recently made it illegal (literally punishable by jail time) to refer to a “transgendered” person by the wrong (i.e., the biologically right) pronoun. And in South Africa, as our friend Simon Roche of the Suidlanders so articulately conveys, white South Africans are preparing in earnest for their globalist-celebrated government’s attempted genocide of them.
While these are certainly “black pills,” I think they should give us hope, for they are additional reasons why so many Occidentals no longer view themselves and their governments as being on the same side. One can wish things never became this way, but since they have, the more of our people who come to this conclusion the better.
Ruby Ridge was a harbinger of this phenomenon, and we can hope that while the events attesting to this dynamic have been tragic ones so far, the events in coming years will be ones of sacrifice, redemption, and glory. As a result, we can hope for a time when Reconquest will occur, and the tragic occurrences like Ruby Ridge that arise when Occidental governments are the enemies of their native citizens will no longer come to pass.
About the Author
Julian Langness is the editor of europeancivilwar.com, and the author of Fistfights With Muslims In Europe: One Man’s Journey Through Modernity, as well as the upcoming release (due out later this year) Identity Rising: How Nationalist Millennials Will Re-Take Europe, Save America, And Become The New ‘Greatest Generation.