Think Jade Helm is insane? Five right-wing conspiracy theories

The delusional belief among a third of Republican primary voters that the U.S. military is poised to take over the state of Texas is just the tip of the nutjob iceberg.

You thought it was just some fringe extremist belief? No. According to a recent poll from Public Policy Polling, the idea that the special forces training exercises the U.S. military have scheduled in several Western states (the same exercises run during the Bush administration, we hasten to point out) is really a plot against Texas has become right-wing gospel in the eyes of more than just conspiracy theorists.

In its general GOP presidential poll, “We also tested the recent conspiracy theory that the federal government is trying to take over Texas — 32% of Republican primary voters buy into it compared to 40% who don’t,” according to the poll from PPP, a Democratic survey firm whose history has a record of historical accuracy.

At least it’s not a plurality; I guess we can take some comfort in that. Still — a third of GOP voters see the big black helicopters coming in the form of a U.S. solider? And who would these “informed voters” vote for, anyway?

“Scott Walker leads the field among those who believe in the Texas conspiracy at 23% to 18% for Ted Cruz, 13% each for Marco Rubio and Mike Huckabee, and 10% for Ben Carson,” the PPP survey concluded. “Jeb Bush leads among voters who don’t buy into it at 17%, but since he only gets 6% with those who do, his overall standing remains somewhat weak.”

Glad we cleared that up. Of course, when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that the Texas National Guard would monitor the movements of the U.S. military in the state for the planned training exercises, the sane people among us just chuckled. But the implausible, inane, and insane idea has picked up steam.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz are among those claiming that the reported plot needs “investigation.” Unsurprisingly, in the PPP poll, the two candidates with the highest percentages of voters believing the takeover theory were Perry, at 76 percent, and Cruz, at 56 percent.

And don’t forget actor Chuck Norris, who published a column at the conspiracy theory website WorldNetDaily, or WND (often referred to as “wing-nut daily”) that “The U.S. government says, ‘It’s just a training exercise.’ But I’m not sure the term ‘just’ has any reference to reality when the government uses it.” Are we supposed to trust Norris because the actor-turned-conservative-activist was once a Texas ranger? Oh, that’s right; he just played one on Walker, Texas Ranger.

No amount of explanation or incredulous laughter from military leaders, the Pentagon, the White House, or even other Republicans, such as former Texas state Rep. Todd Smith, who accused Abbott of “pandering to idiots,” seems to be dissuading those bent on seeing boogeymen where none exist.

That goes for tunnels under Wal-Mart stores, too. The chain store giant was forced to respond publicly that “there’s no truth to the rumors” about Jade Helm 15 — rumors that its five empty stores in Texas would “house the headquarters of invading troops from China, here to disarm Americans one by one,” according to the whack-job theory. Supposedly, tunnels were being built underneath the stores to facilitate foreign troop movement. That’s also not true, Wal-Mart says.

But that’s not all! Right-wing conspiracy theories always pop up, each seemingly more stupid than the one before, fake birth certificates from the Kenyan Muslim socialist in the White House notwithstanding. It’s hard to narrow down the stupidity, but we offer five ideas that just won’t go away. As the saying goes, we read these theories so you won’t have to. You’ll forgive me if I don’t offer live links.

Creeping sharia law. One of the resurrected conspiracies again being spewed is that U.S. laws are slowly being superseded by Muslim sharia law. There are several examples, but the choicest is from former Florida Rep. Allan West, who wrote in a recent blog post that Sharia law was creeping into a Dallas Wal-Mart (OMG, Texas and Wal-Mart again). One checkout lane posted a sign: “No alcohol served in this lane.” It had nothing to do with the religion or the “non-Anglo-Saxon name” of the checkout clerk; it was because he was underage, and you must be 21 to sell as well as buy alcohol. The blog was forced to add a correcting editor’s note but added: “However, that isn’t to say Wal-Mart isn’t selectively caving to Muslim demands, such as this case regarding Halal meat in Ohio.”

Gay Nazism. According to a compilation from the People for the American Way, there are several examples of whackadoodle theories about gay takeovers. One is from Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, who charged that gay rights supporters are getting ready to “start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians” to concentration camps. Republican Gordon Klingenschmitt, a televangelist who was recently elected to the Colorado state legislature, claimed that a Senate bill sponsored by Minnesota Sen. Al Franken would “require pedophilia in all public schools” and “require pro-gay child recruiting.” Oh, and Common Core will turn your kids gay, too.

Bureau of Land Management takeovers. I bet you thought the militia movement hysteria over the Cliven Bundy ranch in Nevada died down after Bundy, a tax cheat who refused to pay for decades of back grazing fees on public lands, exposed himself as a racist on national TV, and Republicans and Fox News pundits couldn’t run away from him fast enough. Now, the Oath Keepers and their ilk have a new target, this time in Oregon, over gold mining rights at the Sugar Pine Mining Claim. “That’s what being an American’s all about,” said one militia member headed to Oregon. “We don’t allow our neighbor to be enslaved or beaten or tortured by government jackboots because they want to steal our land and our resources to keep us under their thumb.” And speaking of Oath Keepers, the founder of the group says Arizona Sen. John McCain, who spent all those years in a POW camp, is a “traitor to the Constitution” and should be “hung by the neck.” Stay classy, guys.

Doctors reporting guns. It has been a long-held, common-sense public health practice for pediatricians to ask parents about how guns are kept in the home to ensure that children are safe, the same way they ask about safety belts, diet, etc. But some far-right groups have been repeating the debunked claim that the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, requires doctors to ask patients whether they own a firearm as part of a plot to round up gun owners. “They are doing it to the whole country, they field-tested it on veterans, and now it’s the whole country,” Gun Owners of America President Larry Pratt told a right-wing radio show. “We are looking at a major assault on the right to keep and bear arms, it is reminiscent of Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, where they used doctors as part of their torture routines and got people sent to the camps for improvement of their mental health.” Speaking of the need to improve mental health …

ISIS in America. Apparently (according to some) the U.S. government created the Islamic State at a cost of $20 million to $30 million. The reasons had to do with oil, or taking down President Assad in Syria, or something; it’s really all too muddled to make any sense. These conspiracies are different from the claims that ISIS fighters are crossing the  border from Mexico into the U.S. These scenarios combine two right-wing favorites — illegal immigration and ISIS — and were pushed by several Republican candidates before the 2014 election. Now a website called “Before It’s News” touts the “fact” of an ISIS camp a few miles from El Paso, Texas. It brings everything full circle, claiming that it’s the whole reason for the Jade Helm 15 exercise in the first place!

Sorry, I have to stop. If you’ll excuse me, I must go wash my hands; my fingers feel soiled after typing up all this hatred and insanity.

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