Imagine Tea Party extremists seizing control of a South Carolina town and the Army being sent in to crush the rebellion. This farcical vision is now part of the discussion in professional military circles.
So began an editorial in the Washington Times last week that ended with a not-very-veiled call for the dismissal of retired COL. Kevin Benson from the Army’s University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies because of a scenario paper, “Full-spectrum Operations in the Homeland,” published in the Small Wars Journal. (Full disclosure: I know COL. Benson. He and his co-author, Jennifer Weber from the University of Kansas, told me they are not commenting on the controversy.)
Then this week brought news that the farcical part may well have been only that the scenario was set in South Carolina rather than Texas.
Judge Tom Head of Lubbock County, TX (confusingly “judge” here means he’s the chief administrative official of the county) declared he wanted to raise a special tax in order to pay for extra police to defend Lubbock against the coming assault of socialistic UN storm troopers that President Obama would send in to quell the inevitable “Civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war maybe” that will come should the sitting president of the United States be re-elected and have the chance to enact his secret elders of Zion plan to hand over the sovereignty of the country to the illuminati of the new world order. You see, in Judge Head’s head the reelection of Obama would lead the right-thinking ‘real’ Americans of Lubbock and elsewhere to take up arms to “get rid of the guy [POTUS]”.
Here’s the key offending passage from Benson and Weber, the one the Times called “cartoonish and needlessly provocative”:
“In May 2016 an extremist militia motivated by the goals of the “tea party” movement takes over the government of Darlington, South Carolina, occupying City Hall, disbanding the city council, and placing the mayor under house arrest. Activists remove the chief of police and either disarm local police and county sheriff departments or discourage them from interfering. In truth, this is hardly necessary. Many law enforcement officials already are sympathetic to the tea party’s agenda, know many of the people involved, and have made clear they will not challenge the takeover. The militia members are organized and have a relatively well thought-out plan of action.”
Here’s Judge Head:
“Now what’s going to happen if we do that [re-elect Obama], if the public decides to do that? He’s going to send in U.N. troops. I don’t want ‘em in Lubbock County. OK. So I’m going to stand in front of their armored personnel carrier and say ‘you’re not coming in here’.
And the sheriff, I’ve already asked him, I said ‘you gonna back me’ he said, ‘yeah, I’ll back you’. Well, I don’t want a bunch of rookies back there. I want trained, equipped, seasoned veteran officers to back me.”
(Read the full crazy here.)
I’ll give you a minute to digest.
Judge Head might be a cartoon were he not an actual official. But he’s not. He’s a real person, holding a real position of power, living in a real place, purportedly talking about a real sheriff. Is the problem that Benson and Weber are being provocative or eerily prescient?
And let’s not forget that just a few months ago a sitting governor of Texas and presidential candidate maintained the state’s right to secede from the Union.
The Times insists this was a terribly “wrongheaded” thing to do. But what they really meant was “impolitic.” As the trolls on the comment boards insisted, if Benson and Weber had only used a modifier other than “tea party” in their scare quotes all would be well. But why should they? It’s not like the Earth Liberation Front has a sitting governor and presidential candidate openly suggesting the possibility of secession. There’s no “green party” judge in Oregon declaring he wants to raise a local militia to save the town’s trees by combating the WTO’s armada of private jets that surely a President Romney would use in order to hand over sovereignty of the nation to a cabal of transnational darwinian-capitalist corporations.
There’s only one mainstream political movement that talks like this.
Judge Head didn’t come up with his crazy-talk all by himself. He was helped along the way by movement leaders more adept at code-switching language than himself. That he merely connected the dots too many movement leaders put in front of him just shows what energizing the base in this manner can lead to.
It’s not an accident that Dr. Weber is a Civil War expert. Few people thought the South was serious about taking Ft. Sumter, either.
Update: The views expressed are entirely those of Dr. Schmidt or his guest contributors. The views expressed in this forum are not endorsed by the US Army, the Department of Defense or the US government. This disclaimer, which applies to all of Dr. Schmidt’s post, was left off the original post due to an editorial error.
Matthew Schmidt is an Assistant Professor at the US Army’s School of Advanced Military Studies who was recently named #22 in Fast Company’s “top 100 Most Creative People” in Business. Dr. Schmidt’s work focuses on military operational planning, professional military culture and innovation. He is currently working on a book on developing better strategic-thinkers for government and business that will be forthcoming from Wiley/Jossey-Bass in the Fall. He can be reached at: email@example.com.