Groundhog Day

No matter how you tell the story, it feels a little like Ground Hog Day, doesn’t it?

First comes the breaking news. Gunshots are reported–at a school, an office park, a government facility, an airport. CNN and Fox assemble panels of experts to extemporize while helicopter views of a building surrounded by emergency vehicles, lights flashing, fills the screen.  As uniformed personnel mill around in the background, breathless evacuees and eye-witnesses are interviewed. A steady stream of updates scrolls by on the ticker: Fatalities are confirmed, denied, and re-confirmed; the White House reveals that the president has been briefed on the situation. Grave-visaged police officials preside over press conferences, snippets of which are endlessly rerun. Eventually the perpetrator is identified or misidentified, then wounded, captured, or killed.

It pretty quickly emerged that the gunman at LAX on Friday, Paul Ciancia, was carrying a “manifesto” that was filled with buzzwords associated with paranoid right wing conspiracism, like “New World Order” and “fiat currency.” Mark Potok of the SPLC explained:

Ciancia’s language and references seemed to put him squarely in the conspiracy-minded world of the antigovernment “Patriot” movement. The New World Order refers to a longstanding conspiracy theory that today, in its most popular iteration, claims that global elites are plotting to form a socialistic “one-world government” that would crush American freedoms. Often, the root of the alleged conspiracy is traced to the 1913 creation of the Federal Reserve and the adoption of fiat currency — paper money that is not backed by gold, as it was once was in the U.S.

So-called Patriots also increasingly see the DHS, which produces intelligence assessments of extremists that are distributed to other law enforcement agencies, as an enemy and even a collaborator in the New World Order conspiracy. Many believe DHS has targeted their movement and is somehow connected to the alleged construction of concentration camps by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The purported camps are thought to be meant for those Americans who resist a coming national seizure of all weapons from U.S. citizens.

Potok waited some 24 hours before he posted his piece; by then Alex Jones and his proxies at Infowars and elsewhere had long-since “exposed” the event as a clumsily conceived and poorly executed psy op–so inept, they said, that you really had to wonder if the puppet masters weren’t simply laughing at our expense.

First the LA Times reported that the gunman was a TSA agent; then they retracted the claim, because if he was just a disgruntled employee, there’d be no need for a massive government crackdown on Christians and Patriots, would there? And look at his name: Paul Ciancia, or if you need to have it spelled out for you, CIAnCIA.

And how convenient is it that he was carrying literature about the NWO? Gun grab, anyone? “It seems like everything that the news media and the anti-gun legislators could hope for. You have your AR-15 finally, a reason to keep the TSA in the airports, your extra ammo, and anti-government documentation usually used by what the media is pointing out ‘by Right Wing Christian Hate Groups.'”

If you don’t think this was a staged event, then what do you make of the rehearsals that the police admitted to? What possible reason would the people tasked to protect airports have had to prepare for an armed assault on an airport unless they planned to carry out one themselves? It was all a “pretext to further militarize TSA procedures and also demonize official enemies, including Alex Jones and Glenn Beck.”

These alleged “writings” will undoubtedly be used to expand the rightwing meme and underscore the supposed need to deal with violent antigovernment radicals, i.e., anybody who voices displeasure with big government and the growth of a police state apparatus used against political enemies of the establishment. The murder of a frontline TSA hireling will inject the needed degree of urgency to deal with the problem of Americans growing increasingly angry and restless over TSA molestation and wholesale violations of the Fourth Amendment.

It’s true that that that telltale document could have been forged and planted, though it’s even more likely that it authentically signals Ciancia’s real sympathies. Assuming he recovers from his wounds, that he isn’t declared insane, and that he doesn’t plead guilty, more information will undoubtedly come out at his trial.

Ironically, given his apparent taste for conspiracism, it seems pretty unlikely that the 23-year-old Ciancia, described as an unemployed motorcycle mechanic, was a part of an organized conspiracy–either an orchestrated right wing plot to strike out at the DHS or a leftwing plot to plant yet another false flag. Why would anyone have bothered? I mean, let’s face it–a murder spree at an elementary school, an explosion at the Boston Marathon, and another mass shooting at a military facility didn’t move the country’s needle against guns. Surely the killing of “a frontline TSA hireling” wouldn’t either.

When I was at LAX last week, I received mixed signals from the TSA. When I got off the freeway and entered the airport, I had to drive through a makeshift gauntlet staked out by traffic cones. Heavily armed men in military fatigues peered through the windows before waving me on. Pretty militarized.

On the other hand, once I was in the terminal and checked in, I was told that I had been selected for pre-screening, which allowed me to pass through the machines without taking off my shoes or belt or removing my laptop from its case. Unfortunately, the scanner detected the two jars of harissa that I’d bought at the Farmer’s Market in my overnight bag, which the TSA officer said counted as liquids. He made me go back into the terminal and wait in line to check the bag, which cost me $25.00–a whole lot more than the harissa did. If I were a conspiracist, I’d deduce that the TSA officers were worried that the pre-screenings foretokened layoffs. Harassing innocent passengers like myself was just a prelude.  Eventually a patsy was “recruited” and manipulated with psychotropic drugs and, voila,  a TSA martyr (really a crisis actor, of course) was duly created.

But not only am I not a conspiracy theorist, I’m a little baffled as to why the conspiracists are so defensive. “Potok and the SPLC insinuate that Ciancia is a ‘patriot’ ideologically connected to the those of us who believe the TSA is an unconstitutional Gestapo-like manifestation of an out of control police state,” an outraged Kurt Nimmo of InfoWars declares, insisting that Ciancia, telltale name and all, is “a mentally disturbed individual who threatened to commit suicide not long ago”–a lone nut, in other words.

It seems to me that Nimmo and his friends have a lot to celebrate. Ciancia purchased his gun and his ammo legally and he was able to bring them into an airport. Score two for the Second Amendment. But for some reason, they are outraged that anyone would even entertain the idea that a gun owner who believes that the government is illegitimate and tyrannical would actually use his weapon to strike a blow for freedom.

It’s inconsistent but totally predictable. Like I said, this is Groundhog Day.

One thought on “Groundhog Day

  1. Arthur: As you know, in my article about the Nature and Purpose of Conspiracy Theories, I discuss at length the common characteristics which seem to be prevalent in all theories — but especially right-wing conspiracy theories.

    Ciancia seems to match my description, i.e. an angry aggrieved person who feels impotent and unable to accomplish much in terms of status or wealth or influence or power and unable to achieve much of significance or lasting importance/fulfillment.

    Often, these folks project their own inner demons onto their targeted victims.

    “They” seek to destroy me or hold me back or diminish my freedoms.
    “They” have undeserved and overbearing influence, wealth, power.
    “They” have values and ideas which do not conform to what a “real” American should subscribe to.

    All of this also corresponds to what the Hate Obama crowd believes.

    As I wrote to you once before, I fear for the safety of President Obama during these next 3 years. One only has to view the vicious comments of Sen. Ted Cruz’s father to understand the “permission” which these folks must think they have to employ an ultimate “second amendment remedy” to their perceived “problem”.

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