Texas

Friday A/V Club: I'm So Old, I Remember When Liberals Protested Military Exercises Conducted on U.S. Soil

From Operation Urban Warrior to Jade Helm 15

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Red Texas
Jade Helm 15

This summer, the military plans to hold a gigantic training exercise in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado. It's called Jade Helm 15, and some of the people who live in those areas are pretty upset about it. There are concerns that it will disrupt people's day-to-day lives: that the troops will make too much noise, say, or that they might accidentally set off a brush fire. There are more political objections too, like the residents unhappy that they weren't able to vote on whether their towns or counties would be included in the operation. Or the man who worried to the Austin American-Statesman about what will happen when "you get the people used to the troops on the street, the appearance of uniformed troops and the militarization of the police."

Where there are anxieties, there inevitably are conspiracy theories. These have taken several forms, but the most common seems to be the one that literalizes that fear of a militarized America by declaring the operation an actual plot to install military rule. That same fellow in the American-Statesman went on to say he thought the Pentagon was "moving logistics in place for martial law." Others believe the operation will itself impose martial law, bringing the last tatters of American Constitution to an end this year.

Earlier this week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott responded to these various constituents' concerns by asking the State Guard to monitor the operation, saying he wants "to ensure that adequate measures are in place to protect Texans." This has sparked a lot of smug commentary from the left end of the blogosphere. Charles Pierce of Esquire attributed the residents' fears to "the complete alternate reality that has been created on the American Right" and declared that "in Texas, organized paranoids are just another constituency to be serviced." Wonkette published a piece that used a lot more words to say basically the same thing. Because only a right-wing lunatic could possibly be unhappy at the thought of a military exercise being conducted next door.

Or not. Behold this transmission from the year one-nine-nine-nine:

That's a short documentary Gar Smith made about the time Operation Urban Warrior came to the San Francisco Bay. The Marine training exercise sparked sharp opposition from the local left, and at one point in the debate protesters occupied Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown's office. (Brown's support for the operation was a significant sign that he was moving away from the activist community he'd been a part of just a few years before.)

There are some obvious differences between Urban Warrior and Jade Helm. The territory affected this time is much larger than in 1999, but the number of civilians close to any given part of the operation will be much smaller. And most of Jade Helm is going to take place on private land. But the parallels are pretty strong as well. As with Jade Helm, part of the opposition stemmed from regular quality-of-life issues. (The video highlights the noise, pollution, and general disruption that the mock invasion caused.) As with Jade Helm, there was a more general concern that it was simply a bad sign culturally to have the military conducting this sort of activity in or near a civilian community. (You needn't believe such operations are intended to desensitize the public to worry that they will have that effect.) And as with Jade Helm, there were conspiracy theories—and not just from folks like Alex Jones, though yes, he was there in Oakland too. Gar Smith wrote a story for The San Francisco Bay Guardian, one of the area's two major alt-weeklies at the time, arguing that "the armed forces are preparing themselves to contain popular uprisings—including uprisings in U.S. cities."

(Uprisings in U.S. cities? Thank goodness that could never happen.)

Feel free to look askance at the folks who think this exercise will be the actual apocalypse, as opposed to an ugly cultural signpost and a potentially noisy neighbor. Feel free to wonder at a Texas governor who issues that order but loves the idea of militarizing the Mexican border. But spare a little disdain as well for people so eager to wag their fingers at some rural Red Staters that they never wonder whether there might actually be some good reasons not to want a vast military operation in their neighborhood. If they can't quite get their minds around that concept, I know some urban Blue Staters in Oakland who could help them understand.

(For past editions of the Friday A/V Club, go here. For more thoughts on conspiracy theories, go here.)

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  1. Where there are anxieties, there inevitably are conspiracy theories.

    Go ahead and trust that this isn’t to desensitize the public to the idea of homeland pacification, Walker. I, however, am glad there are paranoid nutjobs out there to keep this kind of thing in check as long as possible.

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  2. Where there are anxieties, there inevitably are conspiracy theories.

    Someone should write a book about this subject…

    1. I am quite sure the writers for Reason are far too busy for such a project!

  3. classic libtard doublethink

    1. It’s not even doublethink. It’s just Principals over Principles, again. It doesn’t matter what the Governor of TX did, he’d get mocked for it by the lefties.

  4. Writers are curiously seasonal.

  5. This president would love nothing more than for some crazy hillbillies in rural Texas or Arizona to give him the excuse he needs for a full federal takeover of the southwest.

    Please don’t give him what he wants.

    1. It’s this sort of nonsense that is delusional.

      Why in the blue hell would President Obama want to “takeover” a state that is already part of the United States? Obama? The same guy that has dragged the Democrats to the right and that has bent over backwards to get support from the right.

  6. Pastor Kevin Brown in his sordid quest to scum women:
    http://www.dailydot.com/lifest…..undraiser/

    1. I bet Maggie McNeill is apoplectic about that fucking show.

      1. (checked her Twitter feed – yep. She’s spreading the word abouta crowdfunding site for the woman featured in the article)

        1. Superb.

  7. Charles Pierce of Esquire attributed the residents’ fears to “the complete alternate reality that has been created on the American Right” and declared that “in Texas, organized paranoids are just another constituency to be serviced.”

    Oh, the projection. A significant segment of the progressive left already lives in an alternate reality with a whole host of organized paranoids. It’s astounding how they can’t not project. It’s a fundamental part of who and what they are.

    1. I love the way the “organized paranoids” are the citizens, not the people who are actively planning for military pacification of their own country.

      1. They don’t even think that far or in that much detail. It’s just slurs used against an enemy. That’s it. It’s like a hiccup or a belch: reflex.

    2. Self-awareness is not required when you’re job is to compete with other writers to write the smuggest piece possible trashing cultural enemies.

    3. Pierce’s writing reflects the pathetic overcompensation of the nerd who’s still pissed 40 years later that he never got to fuck the head cheerleader in high school.

  8. I’m so old that I remember when liberals were liberal.

    1. Did you ride dinosaurs to school?

  9. I’m so old, I remember a LOT of things “liberals” believed but have outright repudiated. That’s why we don’t call then liberals any more. They’re called progressives.

    1. Genuine old-skool liberals would terrify millenial progressives.

      1. Millennial. Whatever.

      2. And vice-versa.

        1. Nicely done.

  10. I am sure Charles Pierce would be delighted to have a battalion or two clogging up traffic and walking around his neighborhood, right? I am sure he can start a petition to have the next EX in his home town!

  11. I love this conspiracy theory. The thought of some motivated Lieutenant ordering his platoon, half of which was probably born in Texas, to seize the Alamo for Obama… Gets me every time.

    1. What? Did someone say this, or did you utter this in your sleep last night as you had a wet dream over the thought of Bernie Sanders cavorting naked in front of the Wall Street Bull statue?

      1. Go on….

        1. I would have pegged you for a bear-lover.

      2. I probably should have phrased that better. I meant to comment on the conspiracy theory that this exercise is some sort of plot to invade the southwest, which I have seen bandied about. I was just trying to envision what that would look like in practice.

    2. That’s not how it works. It doesn’t come from the middle or bottom, orders come from the top. As far as the grunts on the ground know, they’re under order (ORDERS!) to pacify this block, arrest these 5 people, or blockade this specific area because the chain of command told them to. They’re fed something about terrorists or whatever, enough to make them think what they are doing is righteous, and then off they go. Those orders are spread out to lots of endpoints, and in a short time they’ve got complete control. The average low-level soldier/marine/sailor/airman is not going to stop and think about what they are doing, they’re just going to follow orders. Only if things get too ugly to ignore (opening fire on civilians, or some such action) will you actually see anybody stopping and thinking about what they are doing, or questioning those orders. Never underestimate the power of institutionalization and the urge by most people (especially those who have been taught specifically to follow orders) to not swim against the stream.

      That being said, I don’t expect such a thing to happen. It’s a military exercise and it will have an end, we’ll all move on. But please don’t put your faith in “independent thinking” of those who follow orders. You’ll be sorely disappointed every time.

      1. They’ve learned from the time they were caught confiscating firearms from residents in Post-Katrina New Orleans. And I mean they learned in the wrong way, as in next time they’re cordoning off a “no-media zone” before the op.

    3. Drive by troll

  12. Progtardation meets reverse NIBY-ism. Reverse in the sense that they’re perfectly fine with military training ops as long they’re in someone else’s backyard. Preferably the back yards of their political enemies.

  13. People always tell you that you are foolish to fear the thing they secretly yearn to happen. Like churches being forced to conduct weddings.

  14. I don’t understand. What does this have to do with free birth control, abortion, or gay marriage?

  15. I think the acclimatized to the sight of soldiers arguments is something of a red herring. What has really got the Alex Jones types distraught is that SF forces are going to be operating undetected among civilian populations at the same time that troop exercises are on going. That’s strange to say the least.

    It bears mentioning that Clinton-era military exercise in a city that supported him 80 percent is a lot different than an Obama-era exercise taking place in primarily red states. Look at the key to the map- the two hostile areas are Utah and Texas. With an insurgent pocket in deep blue California. The symbolism was very likely picked by the DOD to appeal to Obama’s well developed penchant for political demonology.

    Theres also the issue that the Obama administration has been pretending for years that some kind of inchoate specter of white militia movements is some kind of threat that requires resources to combat.

  16. “This summer, the military plans to hold a gigantic training exercise in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado. ”

    Looking at the map and the disparate locations, I’d say this would be better labeled military training exercises (plural), even if they are all somehow linked in theory.

    Having said that, there are many areas in our great country with massive tracts of military land and upon those lands the military has been conducting training exercises quite adequately for decades. In fact, that’s the whole point of having massive tracts of military land.

    Carry on.

    1. “Looking at the map and the disparate locations, I’d say this would be better labeled military training exercises (plural), even if they are all somehow linked in theory.”

      I’m not sure you understand how the military chain of command works. Just because the training areas are not adjacent doesn’t, mean that they aren’t connected. Centcom, which directs all military actions in the middle east is located in Florida.

    2. The point of this exercise is to train OFF the military reservations. It’s specifically called out as a reason for this. Now, they’re primarily using privately-owned land willfully donated for the purpose, but this is not a typical exercise on the vast, vast tracts of government-owned ranges and proving grounds.

    3. Then why don’t they stick to their massive tracts of land?

      1. After all, they do own something like 80% of Nevada…

  17. Lock and load! Anyone outside of Texas heard about the Walmart closing conspiracy associated with Jade Helm?

    1. Also, they had a Bradley style vehicle come loose of its transport trailer and clog up the 610 loop in Houston six weeks ago. More training needed at blending in. Or they’re already experts depending on how you want to tell the joke.

    2. Anyone outside of Texas heard about the Walmart closing conspiracy associated with Jade Helm?

      “Associated” by dumbfucks and conspiracy psychos. The same folks who are terrified of a military takeover of our entire Southwest … by 1200 troops … versus 30 million gun owners and 250,000 armed police.

      Oh wait, the police are in on it. Never mind.

  18. Once again, Reason feels obliged to pander to the hysteria of the very craziest conspiracy wackos. What Jesse describes as “a vast military operation” is … 1200 troops … in seven states combined. (gasp). By comparison, Dallas alone has 3,000 uniformed policemen.

    And for those lacking in literacy, “Urban Warrior” was … urban! This is not. If we look to the equally wacky Fox News, the fear of a military occupation is central to the Texas governor’s actions. Apparently, the 2nd Amendment is useless as a protector against government abuse. With 30 million gun owners in those 7 states, we see adults pissing in their pants over … 1200 troops.

    Using fear to whip up false hysteria and manipulation is no longer limited to the state, notes this 40+ year Reason reader, now embarrassed by a once-great publication. Lord Acton was right. The quest for power is highly corrupting.

  19. Once again, Reason feels obliged to pander to the hysteria of the very craziest conspiracy wackos.

    It wouldn’t hurt to read the post before replying to it, Michael. Here’s an excerpt: “Feel free to look askance at the folks who think this exercise will be the actual apocalypse, as opposed to an ugly cultural signpost and a potentially noisy neighbor.”

    What Jesse describes as “a vast military operation” is … 1200 troops … in seven states combined. (gasp).

    A seven-state area is vast, yes.

    And for those lacking in literacy, “Urban Warrior” was … urban! This is not.

    Speaking of lacking in literacy, here’s another quote from the post: “There are some obvious differences between Urban Warrior and Jade Helm. The territory affected this time is much larger than in 1999, but the number of civilians close to any given part of the operation will be much smaller. And most of Jade Helm is going to take place on private land.”

    Using fear to whip up false hysteria and manipulation is no longer limited to the state, notes this 40+ year Reason reader

    Well, I can’t deny that. You aren’t the state, and you seem intent on whipping up a false hysteria about something here.

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