I am about to fill you in on a crazy news story that has gained traction over the past week. It’s true, not a joke, not satire, not an article from The Onion. It falls into the category of “you can’t make this stuff up” , but then again that is exactly what some crazy lunatics in Texas just did.
Jade Helm 15
It all started when the Pentagon scheduled some training exercises called Jade Helm in the southwest for this summer. The right wing bloggers and conservative commentators picked up on a training map for the Jade Helm 15 exercise and thought is was real, even though the military has performed many similar exercises in the state of Texas in previous years.1,2,3
An image in which Texas is labeled “hostile” territory began making the rounds on conservative message boards and blogs last month.– Newsweek
The politically paranoid have molded this into a conspiracy theory of epic proportion. They believe that President Obama is sending the US military into Texas to impose martial law and take away people’s guns.
Oh and that’s not all!
Do you remember the story about a number of Walmarts throughout the country closing for renovations a few months ago? “These Walmarts are going to be military guerrilla-warfare staging areas and FEMA processing camps for political prisoners. The prisoners are going to be transported by train cars that have already been equipped with shackles.”³ Huh?
Can you believe it? When you read around on the internet the story is elaborate with claims of underground tunnels linking all the Walmarts and internment camps. It is just crazy talk.
Read the 3 links to stories at the end of this article to get more info on the actual conspiracy story and background
The Texas Governor
Nonetheless, the incredibly detailed conspiracy story is not actually the weirdest part of this whole thing. And it is not the reason why I am even mentioning it to you. There are many conspiracy stories all over the internet from both sides of the aisle that get ignored by the main stream media on a regular basis.
But this story is not ignored.
What makes this story different is that the Texas Governor Greg Abbott decided to deploy the Texas State Guard in order to stave off the Obama takeover of Texas. Really? Huh? The Governor?
Gov. Abbott deployed the Texas State Guard to watch over the United States Military to make sure the right’s of the Texas residents are not infringed.
Why on earth is a Governor of one of the largest states in the United States of America placating the lunatic fringe? Does Gov Abbot actually believe that the US Army is going to take over Texas? If so, maybe the non-lunatic voters in Texas need to know this fact about him before the next election and then I would hope that most Texans would vote the lunatic Governor out of office. Apparently, the lunatics have truly taken over the asylum of the Republican Party at this point….at least in Texas…but sadly I think nationally.
The real problem
The real problem in all of this is a really, really scary problem. And The New York Times proposed the most relevant question to shine a light on this problem:
when Gov. Greg Abbott issued a directive to the Texas State Guard to keep watch over the military operation, seeming to give those concerns some official credence, it raised a more credible question: To what degree has the extreme become mainstream in Texas?¹
As we make fun of the lunatic fringe and their conspiracy theories, we need to be extremely cognizant of what is becoming mainstream. We can’t sit back and let these stories go unchecked. We can’t allow elected officials in higher offices to placate ridiculous theories just for the purpose of gaining votes. We need to point it out, discuss it, and even ridicule it as much as possible so that most reasonable people understand how outlandish these stories are. Letting it fester just gives the stories strength. It allows the stories to become real even though there is no reality in them.
Elected officials may think they are being fair and considerate to listen to and placate all their constituents ideas, claims and accusations, but it leads to irreparable harm. Crazy is as crazy does. If people are claiming that the earth is flat, you say NO IT IS NOT. If Texans think the US Army is going to invade Texas and take it over, you remind them that Texas is already a part of the United States and there is no need for a takeover. The federal government already controls Texas.
You denounce nonsense.
I am sure that there will be much more to come on this story in the weeks ahead. Now that the mainstream media (and not just the bloggers and conspiracy websites) have picked it up, I am sure that the presidential candidates will need to weigh in on the issue. Keep an eye out and let’s see how far this goes.
Below is a video from Hardball with Chris Mathews that discusses the issue ~12 minutes
non causa pro causa
¹Manny Fernandez, Conspiracy Theories Over Jade Helm Training Exercise Get Some Traction in Texas“. NYTimes, May 6, 2015.
²Taylor Wofford, “Jade Helm: The Conspiracy Theory That’s Divided Texas Politicians”. Newsweek, May 5, 2015.
³Wade Goodwyn, “Texas Governor Deploys State Guard To Stave Off Obama Takeover.” NPR, May 2, 2015.