Coup Foiled in Texas

Here’s a fine parable for our times, via an Associated Press story from Paul J. Weber:

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday asked the State Guard to monitor a U.S. military training exercise dubbed “Jade Helm 15” amid Internet-fueled suspicions that the war simulation is really a hostile military takeover.

The request comes a day after more than 200 people packed a meeting in rural Bastrop County and questioned a U.S. Army commander about whether the government was planning to confiscate guns or implement martial law. Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape said “conspiracy theorists” and “fear mongers” had been in a frenzy.

Pape thanked Abbott for the letter to the Texas State Guard, which he believed helped emphasize the benefit of the military training rather than further fuel theorists.

“It’s a sad when people’s greatest fear is their own government,” Pape said. “Think about the ramification of that. If Americans go to sleep at night worrying whether their own government is going to sell them out before morning, it’d be hard to sleep.”

Suspicions about Jade Helm intensified on some conservative websites and social media after a map labeled Texas, Utah and parts of California as “hostile” for the purposes of the three-month training exercise that begins in July. Such war simulations aren’t unusual, though the Army has acknowledged that the size and scope of Jade Helm makes it unique.

Texas and six other states are hosting the exercises on public and private lands. The Army says the terrain and topography in the areas selected are ideal to replicate foreign combat zones….

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria told the crowd in Bastrop on Monday that the exercise will involve 1,200 soldiers and all four branches of the military, according to the Austin American-Statesman. He said people with a “personal agenda” about the exercise had been spreading misinformation.

Lastoria spoke for two hours, but some left the meeting still unconvinced.

Pape told The Associated Press that some came from as far as Houston and Dallas to attend the meeting.

This, folks, is what you get if you keep telling people the purpose of the Second Amendment is to let them stockpile guns in case they need to resist “tyranny,” even as you are describing the president of the United States as a would-be tyrant leading an administration that is systematically robbing people of freedom and conspiring with “looters” and “moochers” to repeal the Constitution. So yeah, you can laugh, but don’t laugh too hard.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.