In 1960, the Twilight Zone ran an episode called “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street.” It’s been awhile since I’ve seen the episode, but the general plot was about several families filled with paranoia about visiting aliens they thought would kill them. As you might have guessed, the paranoia drove some of them to violence and some in the neighborhood perished in the process. The twist at the end was that there were actually aliens there, but the leader told the others not to do anything. He knew that we would eventually destroy ourselves in the hysteria.
Paranoia is a normal part of the human condition. Some of us more susceptible than others, but all of us are susceptible eventually given the right conditions. There has certainly been a little more than the normal amount over the last six years. That doesn’t mean that paranoia is a new phenomenon. I’ve sat there at dinner parties where people asserted that 9/11 was an inside job by the Bush administration. I sat there and smiled and said nothing because I wanted to be polite. Those people were nuts and no more or less nuts than the current generation of nuts.
The fact that some people are going nuts about Jade Helm 15 isn’t a surprise to anyone. Of course, the irony is that there were apparently 14 of these before and none of those brought any hysteria with them. Sure, those had white guys as presidents, so I suppose that makes sense. When you mix equal parts racism, ignorance, fear, and misinformation and you can find all sorts of scary ideas and fringe elements that make you want to question humanity itself. Again, there are crack pots every where. They come in all shapes and sizes and in all political persuasions. The exist on the left and right and before now have long been ignored as the nuts they are.
This is where Jade Helm is different. As long as you allow the nuts to be nuts and don’t acknowledge their views then they become marginalized and eventually go away. Now, our state officials are giving credence to their beliefs. Governor Abbot has decided to assign the Texas State Guard to monitor the military’s movements. These are our crackpot neighbors that think they will protect the frontier like John Wayne from the horrible Mexicans and ISIS members that are trying to break into Texas from the southern border. Most of us would either calmly explain why that was a bunch of ignorant drivel or we would simply smile and nod and guffaw when we are on our own. Our governor decided to deputize them a la Barney Fife and give them more than a bullet to put in their shirt pocket.
In doing so, Abbot has done two very dangerous things. First, he’s legitimized this view point. Essentially, it’s given legs to the concept that since Obama is black he is out to get us. He obviously is drunk on power and even though he has done nothing that any other president hasn’t done, he’s obviously going to throw us all in jail (or the nearest Wal-Mart). Secondly, he’s given a group of unbalanced people the means to interfere with these exercises. This is where the link to the Twilight Zone is all the more scary. One of two things will happen. The best that can happen is that nothing will happen. In that event, these idiots will claim that their vigilance kept the government from taking over. Remember, the government did nothing during the first fourteen exercises. Obviously, deductive reasoning is lost on these folks. The worst that will happen is that one of these idiots will fire on the military and draw out a response. Then, the self-fulfilling prophecy will come true. Those military folks were obviously up to no good. See, Obama is to blame.
A comedian once talked about some people’s desire to have a president they could share a beer with at the bar. He said, “go down to your bar and look to your left and your right. See any presidents there?” We elect public officials in the hopes that they will represent the very best of our natures. We may disagree on fundamental issues and we may argue with them until we are out of breath, but we expect them to maintain some semblance of sanity in a crisis. You don’t go off the deep end and you don’t pander to those that have gone off the deep end. Someone has to be the adult in these situations. You would hope our elected officials would be the adults. I guess not.