If you’ve been listening to the delusional people on the far-right lately, the United States is engaged in a nefarious plot to take over Texas. The “controversy” is based in a planned U.S. military training exercise that right-wing conspiracy theorists, having forgotten to wear their tin-foil hats, have decided is part of a takeover of the United States by the United States government.
“Operation Jade Helm 15,” as it is called, involves a series of intricate tunnels woven between Walmarts across the country. The sudden closure of some Walmarts — including one in Livingstone, Texas and another in Midland, Texas — across the country only served to reaffirm this insane idea in the eyes of crazy right-wingers.
The Houston Chronicle explains the true purpose of the exercise:
Operation Jade Helm will bring a coalition of forces, including the Green Berets, SEALS, and special operations commands from the Air Force and Marines to Texas for two months of “realistic military training” in a simulated “hostile” territory between July and September this summer.
“Training exercise Jade Helm is going to assist our Special Operations Soldiers in refining the skills needed against an ever changing foreign threat,” he said.
Among the planned exercises, soldiers will try to operate undetected amongst civilian populations in some towns and cities where residents will be advised to report any suspicious activity they notice as a means of testing the military’s effectiveness, said county law enforcement officials who had been briefed by the Army.
“They’re going to set up cells of people and test how well they’re able to move around without getting too noticed in the community,” said Roy Boyd, chief deputy with the Victoria County Sheriff’s Office. “They’re testing their abilities to basically blend in with the local environment and not stand out and blow their cover.”
A post on Intellihub told the crazy version of events, though. “Are these closed Walmarts being refitted to become the hubs, so to speak, or processing centers before allowing access into the tunnels?” Susan Duclos asked. “Is it a coincidence that the majority of closed Walmarts are in Jade Helm states or states that have recently had or are expected to have massive military training exercises?”
Duclos even provided helpful maps that show an alleged tunnel system, along with the Walmart closings.
Another web site wondered, “will these massive stores soon be used as “food distribution centers” to house invading Chinese forces who will be disarming Americans? Before It’s News ran a piece titled, “JADE HELM: Explosive New Information! Underground Government Tunnels Beneath Closing Walmarts, Missile Platforms, Facial Recognition, Bundy Ranch, and Walmart Tied To DHS! They Are All Connected! (Shocking Videos).” Boy, is that a mouthful!
This situation is apparently so severe that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott dispatched the state guard to monitor U.S. military forces in what was totally not a waste of taxpayer dollars. Multiple Republican presidential candidates, including Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, are reportedly “concerned” about the exercise and give further credence to the nonsense. For its part, Walmart issued a statement to Talking Points Memo denying involvement in any insane plots for the U.S. Army to invade the United States and take control.
“There’s no truth to the rumors,” said Walmart spokesperson Lorenzo Lopez. Not those rumors, perhaps, but there may be more to the closings than meets the eye. The Los Angeles Times reported that the closings may be a move to punish activist workers who protested for higher wages earlier this month.
Conspiracies abound in the Southwest these days. Unfortunately, the ones closer to the truth are the ones where American workers lose their jobs for daring to ask for a living wage.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.