South he represented was a far marchrnfrom the cavahcrs and belles sippingrnbrandy on the veranda that I lollywoodrnand romance novels have inflicted onrnus.rnMel Bradford’s South had the hardrnbeauty of old women who have buriedrntheir sons, of Texas frontiersmen whornhave fought Comanches, of small farmersrnwho have worked barren fields alonernand died at Shiloh for a cause that couldrnnot win. His was the South that singsrnthe human tragedy, a drama that neverrnleaves the stage no matter how rich,rnpowerful, and progressive its actors andrnspectators might swell.rnIt was a South that Mel knew intimatelyrnand personally. In graduaternschool, budding historians arc instructedrnto study documents until the recordsrnspeak to them. Documents not onlyrnspoke to Mel Bradford but carried on arnlifelong conversation with him. Yet, asrnstaggering as was his erudition in documentsrn—of the American Revolution,rnthe Civil War, British and European history,rnpolitical and social philosophy, thernclassics of Latin, English, and Americanrnliterature—it was a mere shadow ofrnwhat he knew firsthand.rnTo talk with Mel was to make anrnodyssey in time. I le would ask a youngrnman whom he had never met thernSoutherner’s traditional first t]uestion—rn”Where y’all from?”—and then proceedrnto tell him about whatever place thatrnwas: its history, its geography, what kindrnof crops its soil supported, what sort ofrnpeople settled it, what its politics were inrnthe War Between the States (the “laternunpleasantness,” as he called it) andrnwhy—and he could speak almost asrnmuch about New England or the Midwest.rnI le knew the South and Americarnby county and creek, and in debate withrnhim the easy generalizations and abstractionsrnin which our history is usuallyrncouched crumbled before his knowledge.rnIt was that deep intimacy with thernpast that was the core of his politicalrntheory. In 1981, when he was a candidaternfor the chairmanship of the NationalrnEndowment for the I lumanities,rnhis neoeonscrvative and leftist criticsrncharacteristically managed to miss thernwhole point of his thought. They rantedrnabout his leadership of WallacernDemocrats in Texas in 1972, his criticismrnof Abraham Lincoln, and his casernagainst civil rights legislation and dismissedrnhim as a bigot or a dinosaur.rnEven after Dr. Bradford had lost thernnomination, columnist George Will, inrnan ugly little bucket of sneers, smirkedrnthat he represented the “nostalgic Confederaternremnant in the conservativernmovement,” while another neoeonscrvativernpronounced that “the Reagan administrationrnno more needs to sign onrnStephen Douglas Democrats than itrndoes Tip O’Neill Democrats.”rnYet the point of Dr. Bradford’s deeprnknowledge of the history of a communityrnwas more than nostalgia. It spokernto the truth that human soeietv is notrnfounded on abstract “propositions,” “socialrncontracts,” or “higher laws” such asrnLincoln and his political descendantsrninvoke. A society, he argued, is “grown,rnnot made,” undesigned b’ human reason,rn”bound by blood, place and history,”rnand should be governed in accordrnwith them and their norms.rnBy contrast, political mcssiahs likernLincoln and the bumper-sticker crusadesrnthey launch rule by governmentrn”poured in from the top.” They generaterntyranny and the internecine carnagernof civil war, and in the last days of thisrncentury, as in most of the rest of it, wcrnwade in their legacv of blood.rnMel Bradford was a traditionalistrnwhose teaching leaves us a gentler inheritance.rnIt may be long before Americansrnand their leaders have the wisdomrnand the grace to take it up, but whenrnwc do the banners this Cood Old Rebelrnbore will unfurl once again.rn—Samuel Francisrn(I his editorial originallyrnran in Mr. Francis’srnnationally syndicatedrncolumn.)rnWACO, as we go to press, stands forrn”We ain’t comin’ out.” Americans canrnand do make jokes about anything,rnparticulady current events. That’s therngood news. The bad news is that ATErn(Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, andrnEirearms—nee Bureau of Prohibitionrnand now part of the Treasury Department,rntoday under Lloyd Bentsen, formerrnU.S. senator from Texas and runningrnmate of Michael Dukakis in 1988)rnis an agency run amok. It hungers afterrnfame and is apparently willing to kill tornget it. ATE wants to be a mini-FBI, doingrnthe good law-enforcement things,rnbeloved and respected by the public andrnthe press. I*Vom that comes bigger budgetsrnand more agents—the natural progressionrnfor power-hungry bureaucrats.rn’lb that end, ATE has launched severalrnhighly publicized raids againstrnpreviously peaceful, though non-mainstream,rngroups of people—of whichrnthe Koreshians are just the latest. Lastrnyear, it was the Weaver elan in Idaho—rnWeaver’s wife, young son, and dog werernkilled by ALE. ‘I’hat sad, ridiculousrnepisode was finallv solved not bv thernfeds but by one of mv competitors forrnpresidential votes. Lieutenant ColonelrnBo Gritz.rnThere was also the raid in Washingtonrnstate, where a baby was left unattendedrnin a bathtub for three hoursrnwhile ATE agents questioned her handcuffedrnparents about their religious beliefs.rnThen, the raid in Oklahoma whererna perfectlv legal gun safe was illegalh’rncut open with oxvacetvlcnc torches byrnATE, who then left loaded firearms Kingrnaround for neighboring children to plavrnwith. Lhcn, a mess caused bv ATE inrnMarvland. . . . But you get the picture.rnWho are the Koreshians, led bvrnDavid Koresh, born Vernon Howell?rnThev arc a religious group with offbeatrntenets, who were living peaceablv onrntheir farm near W;ico, Texas. (Waco,rnbv the way, is also home to the leadingrnSouthern Baptist university, Bavlor,rnwhich bans student dancing.) Yourncould even call the Koreshians “screwball,”rnI suppose, for their beliefs thatrnKoresh is Jesus Christ and that he hasrnfree sexual access to all his followers’rnwives. But is this sufficient reason tornkill them? Remember that the originalrnChristians were considered screwball byrntheir ruling authorities, the Roman Empire,rnand were killed for their beliefs.rnDid that make it right?rnThe saddest part of this tragic farce isrnthat four ATE agents and perhaps 11rnKoreshians were killed. (By the timernyou read this, the episode may be historv,rnand a full list of casualties shouldrnbe public.) And for what? What reasonrndid ATE give for the unprovoked attack(rns)? ALE claims they had an arrestrnwarrant for Koresh’s violations of ALErnregulations. Allegedly, Koresh had onernor two fully automatic rifles that werernnot registered with ALE and for whichrntaxes were not paid—$200 per yearrneach, or a maximum of S400. So ATErnmounts a major offensive against a religiousrnsect for a $400 tax?rnDoes this make you squirm? Docsrnthis sound like Nazi Germanv, or maybernCommunist Russia? To make mattersrn6/CHRONICLESrnrnrn