There have always been conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, it seems that there are more of them now. It also seems that they are more outrageous. The Internet and social media definitely play a role, but the real villain is the human tendency to imagine what is not there as if it was real.
Barack Obama has become the center of many of these deluded theories. It isn’t only gullible, political novices being sucked in by these fantasies either. Recently, the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, jumped on board the crazy wagon.
The four branches of the military are conducting Jade Helm 15, a training exercise in Texas and neighboring states. Military organizations are prone to do that because practice makes for efficiency. Unfortunately, it has the wacky leadership in Austin fearing that this is a pretext to a coup.
Abbott ordered the national guard to monitor the military forces conducting Jade Helm 15 so “that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed.”
Let’s pause and go over this again: An American Governor fears that the U.S. military is about to conduct a coup under the direction of President Barack Obama. As difficult as that is to believe, it isn’t satire. Sadly, it is true. As Obama’s term winds down, these bizarre fears are apt to grow worse. There are many people who are certain that Obama is going to find an excuse to cancel the next presidential election and begin a dicatorship.
To be fair, Jade Helm 15 is an unusually large training operation. It is spread over seven states from July to September. That still shouldn’t be enough to unhinge Abbott into believing that the U.S. military is about to ditch the Constitution though.
However, Mr. Conspiracy, Alex Jones, stirred up this story a few weeks ago and Drudge then carried it. The story disseminated. Now, a significant number of Americans expect UN black helicopters to appear and cart off patriots to secret concentration camps. Somewhere in this paranoia, the fearful are muttering concerns over the implementation of the conspiracist fantasy known as Agenda 21.
It would be nice to just shake one’s head of this nonsense and dismiss it as a few strange people. Yet, it’s not just a few and includes high public officials like Governor Abbott. It is this type of thinking that stands in the way of dealing with today’s true problems like climate change, marriage equality, police brutality or marijuana legalization. The political pathways are filled with people who only want to believe what they want to believe. Counter facts mean nothing. They simply refuse to acknowledge anything contrary to their core belief system.
This scenario is the nature of today’s political debate. Yet, debate isn’t the proper word. In today’s environment, debate is a shout down. Perhaps that is the problem. Technology and culture have created a situation where rational discourse is nearly impossible and demonization of the opposing side is the norm. As society grows increasingly complex, people continue looking for simple answers. The casualty is rational thinking.
Crazy conspiracy theories are not a new development. Senator Joe McCarthy’s assertion of communists infiltrating the federal government was another examply by a prominent politician. The difference today is the poliferation of this craziness, even after the theories have been widely discredited.
If the lack of civility and willingness to embrace baseless conspiracy theories continues, it can only weaken our entire system of government. This is something that all of us must guard against and renounce the lunacy whenever we see it.
In the meantime, as much as it would be fun to look at Governor Abbott and snicker, his political gullibility is nothing to laugh at.