In the biggest showdown between state authorities and the U.S. military since the Civil Rights Era, Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered the Texas State Guard to shadow a U.S. military exercise in the Southwest. It all stems from Tea Party firebrands who are following in the footsteps of former Senator Joe McCarthy, who went after the U.S. Army.
This all began when conservative talk show host Alex Jones started reporting that the United States military was going to invade Texas and Utah, labeling them "hostile territory." This led some conservative Texans to protest these exercises, claiming they would be prelude for declaring martial law. Here's an excerpt from the www.teaparty.org website on the subject:
It's the same thing that happened in Nazi Germany. You get the people used to the troops on the street, the appearance of uniformed troops and the militarization of the police. They're gathering intelligence. That's what they're doing. And they're moving logistics in place for martial law. That's my feeling.
Of course, no one objected when military personnel were in our airports, with M-16s, and sky marshals were infiltrating our planes, undetected.
Also, it's not like "Jade Helm 15" was a big government secret. The U.S. Army Special Operations Command put out all the information in a news release last month. And before you start getting ideas that only "red states" will be targeted, the exercise will also take place in Colorado, New Mexico and California, hardly areas opposed to President Barack Obama.
But the decision of these media personalities and websites to go after our U.S. military echoes the actions of Senator Joseph McCarthy.
Flush with his success over targeting the U.S. State Department and ruining a lot of careers over there, as well as hampering that agency's work during the Korean War, McCarthy decided to take aim at the U.S. Army, claiming they had a lot of Communist sympathizers. He even televised the hearings so the American people could see him in all of his glory.
But what the American people saw was McCarthy for what he was. They watched in horror as he tried to bully decorated war heroes. When the truth came out about his real motives for the assault on our armed forces, he was censured by the U.S. Senate in a bipartisan fashion. His career was over, and his lead attack attorney was later disbarred over ethics violations.
It's not too different from the events of 1957, where Arkansas Governor Orville Faubus called out the Arkansas National Guard to prevent black students from attending a white school in Little Rock, leading to a showdown with the 101st Airborne Division, called out by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to enforce the Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.
What's amazing is that on the same teaparty.org website (linked to the Jade Helm 15 story), there was a piece slamming a CNN newscaster for criticizing ex-military police officers, demanding that she show our armed forces a little more respect.
I might add that I know plenty of conservatives who consider themselves Tea Party supporters. They are also big time supporters of our military personnel and the sacrifice of our veterans. I am quite sure they are reacting with similar shock and disgust when they get wind of this attack on our armed forces by these media sites, which claim to "defend our troops."
John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.