We’ve grown accustomed to dealing with the occasional conspiracy theory from the far-right – nearly all of which deal with President Obama in some way – but this month offers not one, but two gems.
The first, of course, is the Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theory, in which the right continues to fear a military invasion of Texas and the imposition of martial law, though this is really only a routine training exercise. The second popped up yesterday, when the White House announced plans to curtail the militarization of local law enforcement, which conservative media is condemning as Obama’s plan to “disarm” the police.
But it takes talent to combine two great conspiracy theories in one. TPM reports today:
Michele Hickford, the editor-in-chief of former Rep. Allen West’s (R-FL) website, noted the timing of the President’s order and the military exercise, which some people believe is a cover for the implementation of martial law, in a blog post published Monday.“With the upcoming ‘Jade Helm’ military exercises planned throughout the southwest this July in civilian areas, some folks are concerned the federal government has grander plans than simply a practice session,” Hickford wrote. “ ‘Federalizing the police’ seems to come up in conversation – particularly since the Obama administration has been so uncomfortable with local law enforcement actually doing its job (quelling violent riots, looting and mayhem) in recent months.”
The piece added that the administration hasn’t cited any “specific incidences [sic]” in which law enforcement using military weapons against civilians has been a problem.
I’m almost impressed with the creativity required to come up with an argument like this.
In case it’s not obvious, let’s do a little fact-checking:
* Jade Helm is not a “practice session” for martial law. It’s just a routine training exercise.
* Whether or not fears of “federalizing the police” come up in right-wing conversation, it’s not going to happen. [edited slightly for clarity]
* The president is not “uncomfortable” with local law enforcement preventing violence.
* There have been all kinds of “specific” incidents in which law enforcement using military weapons against civilians has been considered a problem, most notably in Ferguson, Missouri, last year.
* The report on police militarization has been in the works for months, and is unrelated to military training exercises.
Other than this, however, the argument on Allen West’s website should certainly be taken seriously.