The Lunatic Fringe Attempts to Define Lunacy

Today on the TPM website, there is an article by Katherine Thompson that is mind-boggling. The article is titled “100s of Civilians Plan to Monitor the Possible military Takeover of Texas,” and here are the opening paragraphs:

“If President Barack Obama really is planning to implement martial law under the guise of a military training exercise beginning Wednesday, hundreds of civilian volunteers will be ahead of him.

“The Houston Chronicle in a story published Friday spoke with a leader of the Texas branch of a civilian surveillance group calling itself ‘Counter Jade Helm.’ Eric Johnston, 51, told the newspaper that he’s expected to coordinate 20 volunteers throughout the Lone Star state who will monitor incoming troops.

“’If a team member sees two Humvees full of soldiers driving through town, they’re going to follow them,’ Johnston told the newspaper. ‘And they’re going to radio back their ultimate location.’

“The operation dubbed ‘Jade Helm 15’ is expected to take place across seven states from July 15-Sept. 15. A map from the U.S. Army had labelled Texas as ‘hostile territory’ for the purposes of the training exercise, generating suspicion among Texas residents and giving fuel to an Internet conspiracy theory machine that churned out hundreds of rumors about martial law and secret detention centers inside shuttered Wal-Marts.

“The organizer of Counter Jade Helm’ is a former Marine named Pete Lanteri, 44, who currently resides in Arizona. He told the Chronicle that the whole group already has 200 volunteers that include former military and law enforcement officers, with the largest contingent of volunteers based in Arizona.

“’We’re going to be watching what they do in the public,’ Lanteri told the Chronicle. ‘Obviously on a military base they can do whatever they want. But if they’re going to train on public land we have a right as American citizens to watch what they’re doing.’”

So, despite the fact that this conspiracy theory was extensively ridiculed in the national media and made Texas Governor Abbott look like either a complete lunatic or someone who was all too willing to indulge complete lunatics, the conspiracy theorists remain undaunted.

Still, it is very clear that the conspiracy theorists are very aware that their cause has drawn nationwide ridicule because Lanteri also told the reporter for the Chronicle that “he’s been screening out interested volunteers who’ve wandered too deep into the ‘Jade Helm 15’ conspiracy theory fever swamp”: specifically, “’Once I saw the freaking nut-jobs coming out of the woodwork I was spending half my day discrediting what they were posting. No nut-jobs will be put in the field.’”

I am quite certain that Lanteri imagined that this statement would be reassuring. But all that his statement actually conveys is that there are many people out there who are even crazier than the crazy people who have been “cleared” to do the “monitoring” necessary to protect their states against a military takeover by the national government.



5 thoughts on “The Lunatic Fringe Attempts to Define Lunacy

  1. There is no plot to take over Texas. On the other hand, this conspiracy is not as crazy as it sounds because this is essentially what has happened in Detroit. Bit by bit the government is taking away our constitutional rights.

    • Ironically, the ideologues who are guilty of state overreach in trying to privatize everything in Detroit are the very people who are stoking the idea of federal overreach in Texas and adjacent states.

      I have written other posts on this basic and very common paradox–that the Far Right’s warnings about Progressive overreach typically provide a fairly accurate indication of what they themselves are ideologically trying to impose.

      • Interesting point. They aren’t very ideologically rigorous. Although do we actually know in detail the political views of the Jade Helm people?

  2. Although I will readily admit that the Left has its own lunatic fringe, I have seen no indication, in any media source, that anyone on the Far Left has been taking the military takeover of selected states in the American Southwest seriously. Ideologically, this is “militia” territory, and there are very few Far Left “militia” groups.

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