Law and order prevail in Texas Fort Davis stand-off: Patience captures kidnappers without violence.


TEXAS RANGERS got their man and his followers through patient negotiation and psychology. The Texas separatist from Missouri, Richard McLaren, and his little band of home invaders and hostage takers face an array of state and federal charges. They will not rise again soon.

The man who repudiated the 1845 annexation of Texas was defeated by the calm majesty of the real Texas. His likening of a resort home he seized in the remote west Texas town of Fort Davis to the Alamo was shown to be as phony as the $1.8 billion of "Texas warrants" he issued. He is no hero but an armed and litigious bully who terrorized his neighbors and manufactured pipe bombs.

Restraint on the part of Texas authorities is important because this could have been another blood bath like Waco and given the anti-government cause more martyrs to be angry about. It came when Timothy McVeigh was on trial in the monstrous bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, when mobsters styling themselves militia have been disarmed elsewhere with bombs and assault rifles.

Paranoid delusions masquerading as politics are on the increase in this country and wrong handling can fan the flames rather than suppress them. In this case, wise use of Evelyn McLaren's grown daughter to plead with her mother to come out broke the gang's unity. The restraint allowed two of Richard McLaren's henchmen to get away, however temporarily, but prevented tragedy or destruction.

There are too many violent nuts with guns and bombs menacing their neighbors in this country. They aren't funny, they aren't patriotic, they aren't populist and they aren't right. The Texas Rangers -- the real ones -- humored this band just enough with wisdom and resolve so as to minimize rather than maximize the harm it caused and the threat it posed.

Pub Date: 5/06/97

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