The Chicken Little Effect

Published: July 17, 2015

By Jim Lichtman
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Christoval, Texas has recently become ground zero for conspiracy theorists.


Rather than keep a watchful eye for self-radicalized, domestic terrorists with real intentions of harm, the folks in Christoval are closely watching the federal government’s war games.


Many harbor the misguided belief that the games are a ruse to deflect attention from the government’s true purpose: taking control of the entire state of Texas.

“Jade Helm 15,” The New York Times writes (July15), “is an eight-week exercise that has generated paranoia for months fueled by conservative bloggers and Internet postings. It began Wednesday in Texas and six other states: Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Utah.

“Army Green Berets, Navy SEALs and other Special Operations troops will be conducting drills on private property, military bases and at some public facilities. According to military documents, hundreds of service members will participate in the operation in Texas, in more than a dozen mostly small towns and rural counties.”

Despite assurances to local and state officials that the exercises are for training purposes only, the citizens of Christoval see things a bit differently.

“ ‘I’ve been looking,’ said Dr. Jack Campbell, 61, who was picking up his mail at the post office.

“Dr. Campbell said that he had concerns about the exercise, and that he purchased extra ammunition for the weapons he kept in his home. ‘Just in case,’ added Dr. Campbell, an emergency physician in San Angelo, Tex., 20 miles away. ‘People are just vigilant. Not vigilantes, but vigilant. They don’t want to be caught off guard.’ ”

Just in case? In case of what: platoons of troops in hummers, tanks and trucks armed to the teeth to capture an entire town with a population of… 500? Yes! And from there, it’s on to the state capitol in Austin.

It’s a PLOT!

And that was the precise marketing strategy used for the “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming,” the 1966 American comedy in which a hapless Russian submarine accidentally runs aground near the fictional Gloucester Island on the East coast. When the sub’s commander sends a small party of sailors into the sleepy little town on a Sunday morning to commandeer a boat to pull them off a sandbar, the majority of town’s people believe this is the beginning of a Russian invasion.

A thirteen-year-old boy is the first to spot them. “Two of them got tommy guns, and they’re all talking some foreign language. They could be Russians or something!”

Not wanting to create an incident, a Russian lieutenant explains, “What would the Russians be doing on United States of America island, with so many animosities and hatreds between these two countries… we are of course… Norwegians on a small training exercise for the Nyaato countries.”

Meanwhile, back at that other small town in Texas, “Another resident, a Vietnam veteran, started burying some of his firearms to hide them. Members of the Christoval Volunteer Fire Department, which owns the community center, signed an agreement with military officials stating — oddly to some, suspiciously to others — that the Army would pay for any damage to the building after it used it.”

Back to the movie, the town’s gossipy switchboard operator calls to warn the local police chief.

“I’m sorry to bother you, Chief Mattocks, but I just had a call from Muriel Everett. Muriel said the Russians have landed, whatever that means, and she said they were attacking her… personally!”

Back in Texas: “On the orders of Gov. Greg Abbott, the Texas State Guard will monitor Jade Helm 15 from Camp Mabry in Austin, the state capital. So will at least one national group of unofficial monitors and protesters that calls itself Counter Jade Helm. It plans to have teams of volunteers follow Army vehicles and post their locations on its website.”

According to the Army, “The military exercise will train Special Operations troops in what Army planners call ‘unconventional warfare.’ The exercise is being conducted in rural Texas because the military needed ‘large areas of undeveloped land with low population densities with access to towns,’ and wanted soldiers to adapt to unfamiliar terrain as well as social and economic conditions, according to Army documents.

“Local officials who have been briefed on the exercise say it is modeled after the French resistance to Nazi occupation during World War II. It calls for some military personnel to play the role of the occupiers and for others to work undetected as part of the resistance. Military maps show Texas and Utah as ‘hostile,’ other states as ‘permissive,’ and still others as uncertain but leaning hostile or friendly.”

Back to the movie: “This whole danged island is under attack… by Roosians!

Back in Texas: “According to some right-wing bloggers and activists, the exercise is part of a secret plot by the Obama administration to impose martial law, confiscate firearms, invade red-state Texas or prepare for instituting ‘total population control.’ A report on Infowars, a website operated by Alex Jones, a libertarian-leaning talk radio host from Texas, suggested the name Helm was an acronym for Homeland Eradication of Local Militants.”

Near the end of “Russians,” with both sides armed and pointing guns at each other, the local police chief has lost complete control of the good citizens of Gloucester Island.

“I thought all the nuts went home on Labor Day.”

“Sindy Miller, who runs a hair salon on Main Street [in Christoval], said…‘All they’re worried about is their beer and their guns.’ ”

Quick, let’s get an emergency truck load of Budweiser over Christoval, Texas, pronto!


  1. Looks like the stupid is on the people who believed the New York Times. The reporter played gotcha with his questions. But I will give them credit for coming to Christoval and getting the story themselves instead of getting it second hand and reporting it as truth! Now that is stupid! Mrs. Jack Campbell

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