I can never go past a good conspiracy theory, especially when it’s so ridiculous it hurts my brain. And have I found one!
If you haven’t heard yet, this summer, President Obama is sending in the US military to ‘invade’ Texas and intern ‘unfriendly’ Texans in Walmart stores. Sounds more like a Hollywood summer blockbuster, but it seems many, many, Texans believe it to be the truth.
The conspiracy theory appears to have been born out of two completely unrelated announcements:
- in March 2015, the United States Army Special Operations Command announced it will be holding a large-scale military exercise from 15 July to 15 September 2015, code-named ‘Jade Helm 15’; and
- in April, Walmart announced it would shut down five of its stores in Texas, California, Florida and Oklahoma, for ‘extended repairs’, putting 2,200 people out of work.
As for Jade Helm 15, it is not unusual for military forces to hold large-scale exercises, and to allocate ‘hostile’ areas for the purposes of such an exercise to stimulate potential real-life conflict situations. For example, from 15 July to 5 August 2013, the ‘Talisman Sabre‘ military exercise was conducted in Australia, involving nearly 30,000 Australian and US troops, simulating an amphibious landing at Shoalwater Bay near Rockhampton in central Queensland. Compared to Talisman Sabre, Jade Helm 15 will be conducted with a measly 1,200 troops.
In the context of Jade Helm 15 it was revealed the areas designated ‘hostile’ for the purposes of the exercise will include Texas and Utah, and a small ‘insurgent pocket’ in California. These fictional designations have been interpreted by some as proof of a planned ‘take over’ of Texas by the US military …
As for the Walmart closures, it is widely believed to be ‘retaliation’ against the workers, because they have been active in protesting for higher pay. This assertion is supported by the fact that Walmart hasn’t applied for the necessary building permits to undertake repairs, and has been caught out employing the same tactic before in Canada.
Before long, the two stories intertwined and the conspiracy theory expanded to suggest the closed Walmart stores would be used as ‘internment camps’ by the ‘invading’ US military to imprison ‘unfriendly’ citizens. I suspect by ‘unfriendly’ citizens they mean the same crazed, right-wing, gun-nut, conspiracy theorists who came up with this crazy notion in the first place.
Enter ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ and ‘Delta Force’ Chuck Norris into the frame and things really go amusingly insane, or insanely amusing, depending on your approach to the story.
Norris is a devout Christian and an arch conservative. He supported a procession of losing Republican presidential hopefuls from Mike Huckabee to Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, and Mitt Romney. He even deemed it proper to campaign for Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu. For reasons that are not entirely clear, he has been made an honorary United States Marine and an honorary Texas Ranger. He actively campaigned against marriage equality, and publicly supported California’s Proposition 8. He is a gun rights activist and he’s an avid supporter of, and proud campaigner for, the National Rifle Association.
Recently he had also become a celebrity darling of the paranoid American right-wing and, on the eve of the 2012 US presidential election, he and his wife Gina made a video warning if evangelicals didn’t show up at the polls and vote out President Obama, ‘… our country as we know it may be lost forever …’:
Norris also contributes to the conservative WorldNetDaily (WND) website. Not surprisingly, considering his affiliations, he entered the Jade Helm 15 conspiracy whirlpool by writing a long and rambling piece recently for WND, where he urges Texans not to believe government reassurances Jade Helm 15 is simply a military exercise:
Concerned Texans and Americans are in no way calling into question our brave and courageous men and women in uniform. They are merely following orders. What’s under question are those who are pulling the strings at the top of Jade Helm 15 back in Washington. The U.S. government says, “It’s just a training exercise.” But I’m not sure the term “just” has any reference to reality when the government uses it.
“Well, I’m not trusting what we’re being told,” said Mike Hightower, an affable antique store owner and real-estate agent in the very small town of Smithville, Texas, where some Jade Helm 15 exercises will take place. He added, “I think there’s something a little more involved than what they’re telling us.”
If Washington wants to cool the embers of controversy, then it should quit stoking the fire, as with the posting of a map of Jade Helm 15 “just” exercises that label some areas of the country, including Texas, as “hostile,” according to KHOU 11 News in Houston and verified by the Washington Post.
I have an idea: If the government insists on running expanded military ops across seven Southwest states, why doesn’t it move all that “military training” south and protect our borders at the same time?!
Whatever Jade Helm 15 actually is, I think it is more than coincidental that the FBI director just confessed in February that the presence of ISIS can be felt in all 50 states of the U.S. and that the Pentagon is suddenly running its biggest military training exercise with every branch of the military across seven Southwestern states. Whether deterrence, display of power or something more covert or devious, let’s not come with any patronizing nonsense of impotence and simplicity when its origin is in Washington.
I would call that ‘Grade-A crazy’.
Thankfully, there is a fantastic Twitter parody account titled ‘Chuck Norris Facts‘, which manages to inject some levity into an otherwise frighteningly humourless situation.
And there is also Conan O’Brien’s infamous ‘Walker, Texas Ranger Lever’ sketch series to lighten the mood.
Things got so nutty in Texas, that the Governor of the State, Greg Abbott, yes the Governor(!), got in on the action. Not to be ‘out-crazied’ by Norris, or anyone else, he announced the Texan State Guard would be called upon to protect Texas from the impending American invasion. Coincidently, he was endorsed by Norris during his election campaign. Norris sure knows how to pick ’em.
This story is so crazy it made Texas an international laughing-stock. Although, the madness of Texas doesn’t end there, because Texas is also the State where lawmakers have introduced at least 20 pieces of anti-gay legislation so far this year.
I suspect no ‘invasion’ will take place this summer in Texas, and the lack of military incursion will be considered a victory by those who believe in this odd conspiracy theory. No doubt they will be absolutely convinced their preparations had ‘scared off’ President Obama from carrying out his ‘evil plan’.
‘Don’t Mess with Texas’ may have become the slogan of the Lone Star State but it appears you really don’t need to. Texans are quite apt at messing with themselves. I can’t help but wonder what a good psychiatrist would make of the people who came up with, and continue to peddle, this story.
Perhaps once President Obama concludes his nuclear negotiations with Iran, he can sit down with Chuck Norris and Greg Abbott and negotiate a peace-treaty with Texas.