Are ISIS terrorists coming to America from a base in Mexico?

Summary: Arousing fear has become not just an effective political tool but a good business in our increasingly gullible America. This post looks at one example from the many in today’s news. An industry has grown to disseminate activists’ scary stories. Like the candy industry it’s big because we love their products although we know they’re bad for us. We’ll need sterner standards if we hope to again govern ourselves. {2nd of 2 posts today.}

They want you to be afraid.
From iMediaEthics.

Contents

  1. Weaponized urban legends.
  2. Today’s fear attack on America.
  3. Journalists defending us.
  4. Conclusions.
  5. For More Information.

 

(1)  Weaponized urban legends

For years I wondered what happened to the scary but fun urban legends that so often swept across America, as new ones became rare after the bogus Y2K panic attack. Had we learned? Only slowly did it become apparent that this powerful tool has been professionalized by activists and deployed against us for political effect. Amateurs’ creations can’t compete against the product of pros.

Previous posts have debunked the increasingly delusional claims by the Left’s activists about imminent climate catastrophes (either unsupported or contradicted by the work of the IPCC). Here we look at similar activities of the Right. A thousand and one posts could be written and not list a year’s fear barrages dropped on America, and their growing role shaping our view of the world.

(2)  Today’s fear attack on America

A hot meme on the Right concerns the danger from the others to the south. Hordes of young men taking our jobs. Criminals taking our goods and attacking our women. Lazy people exploiting our charity. Sick people bringing diseases. The latest concerns those others working with our foes.

Judicial Watch originates many of these stories (165 thousand followers on Twitter), aptly described by the invaluable myth-busters at Snopes in an article debunking the jihadists coming from Mexico stories:

 

Tribal Truth

Hunter’s claims seemed to fall directly in line with several made by the disreputable Judicial Watch site, a muckraking organization run by “political activist” Larry Klayman (who issued a press release in October 2014 announcing he was petitioning several federal agencies to deport President Obama, and who has been barred for life by multiple judges for his repetitive misuse of the court system).

Since August 2014, Judicial Watch has been claiming that the U.S.-Mexico border is vulnerable to ISIS … {the article describes several such “warnings”, showing that so far each has been proven either false or without evidence.}

Judicial Watch’s most recent story is “ISIS Camp a Few Miles from Texas, Mexican Authorities Confirm“. Relying on all anonymous sources, of course.

Once a meme gets created by activists, others disseminate and amplify it. This profusion of articles gives the story a bogus credibility, disguising the lack of supporting evidence. Like this by WND (formerly WorldNetDaily):  “Inside the ISIS-U.S. border scare“. They’re skillful story-tellers about boogeymen. Excerpt:

If terrorists are teaming up with Mexican drug cartels, the implications could be cataclysmic. Not only do Mexican drug gangs maintain sophisticated smuggling routes, some of the more dangerous Mexican group {sic} have evidenced guerrilla-like tactics already used in terrorist-style attacks.

… In an attack still largely unexplained, on April 16, 2013, a sophisticated assault was carried out on PG&E Corp’s Metcalf Transmission Substation outside of San Jose, California, which supplies power to San Francisco and other areas. A team of gunmen fired sniper and assault rifles on the substation, severely damaging 17 transformers. … On the same day as the Metcalf assault, North Korea flew its KSM-3 satellite on the optimum trajectory and altitude to evade U.S. radars and carry out a potential EMP attack drill.

Give WND bonus points for a two-fer by combining this evidence-free story with the equally far-fetched stories about a possible EMP attack by North Korea. Fear synergy! At least WND mentioned the government’s denials, unlike most activists. However, the FBI disagrees with WND’s description of the attack on the Metcalf substation: it wasn’t terrorism, could have been done by one person, and wasn’t “sophisticated”.

Missouri: the "Show me" State
What happened to these people? We need them now.

Here’s a more recent example of WND spreading Judicial Watch’s stories as if they were from the Britannica: “Watchdog: Feds plotting to shut down ISIS warning“. WND oddly bills this story as an “exclusive”, although it’s a rehash of a publicly available JW report.

GOP politicos eagerly spread these rumors, knowing that in our America there is no penalty for doing so. For example, see Congressman Trent Franks telling this rumor to Staying True to America’s National Destiny (STAND), quickly picked up by Buzzfeed. In an article by PolitiFact debunking these stories, Franks admitted he relied on the report from Judicial Watch (he get info from fringe extremists, not the intel agencies on which we spend tens of billions of dollars per year).

Demand real journalism
We get what we demand — but only if we pay for it.

(3)  Journalists defending us

Despite their well-earned collapse in credibility, the mainstream news media are our first defense against the fearmongerers — from the majors (NYT’s “U.S. Pushes Back Against Warnings That ISIS Plans to Enter From Mexico” and UPI’s “Officials: No evidence of Islamic State in Mexico“) to the local news (Dallas Morning News’ “Ciudad Juárez neighborhood scoffs at report of Islamic State terror cell in its midst“). Even Fox News often debunks right-wing memes, as they do with this straight reporting: “US State Dept calls report on ISIS training camps in Mexico ‘unfounded’“.

The major media are not oracles of truth. But they are the best place to start. Unlike those in the media clown car. Such as American Thinker chiding real journalists for ignoring Judicial Watch’s wild assertions.

Sadly, these push-backs by journalists appear to be decreasingly effective. Many Americans have become skeptical about the mainstream news but credulous about far less reliable tribal news sources (newsletters, email strings, websites, talk radio, social media). Worse, repeated instances of false information do not appear to dent our love for these alternative sources. {An extreme example is the frequent mention in comments here that it’s silly to give links to sources.}

Truth Will Make You Free

Conclusions

Debunking these memes is usually done as entertainment: see the silly people in the other tribe! That ignores the significance of these stories. Both extremes use this tactic — because it works. Our tribal loyalties make us credulous and so easily led. We have to improve our game.

Since 9/11 we have heard hundreds of such stories about imminent attacks in the US. After 13 years the “attacks” have been largely created by government agencies (entrapment in every sense, except that used by American judges). Ditto with the Left’s climate alarmism, trumpeting severe but natural weather as human-caused (e.g., California’s drought), while most kinds of extreme weather are in fact at average or low levels. When we laugh at them and rely instead on experts America will become a stronger nation.

A free people governing themselves must have a close hold on reality. Only subjects can indulge in fantasies to their hearts’ content, or take the easy path and believe what they’re told. What we believe plays a big role in determining which we will be.

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.  See all posts about Information and Disinformation, the new media and the old., especially these:

  1. Our minds are addled, the result of skillful and expensive propaganda.
  2. Learning skepticism, an essential skill for citizenship in 21st century America.
  3. Who lies to us the most? Left or Right?
  4. Remembering is the first step to learning. Living in the now is ignorance.
  5. Swear allegiance to the truth as a step to reforming America.
  6. Facts are the enemy of both Left and Right in our America.

 

 

6 thoughts on “Are ISIS terrorists coming to America from a base in Mexico?

  1. Fabius Maximus,

    This is a fascinating problem. I’ve had some success in the past of dissuading friends and family from taking positions (at least publicly) that they had on subjects that were near and dear to them. Of particular interest was how after several years, I pointed out that they had repeated the same premonition of the future several times in the past and it had never happened. After pointing this out, they stopped mentioning it (at least in front of me). My own experience suggests that we can be brought out of own personal blind spots with the help of friends and family, if the intention is to help spread the truth instead of proving the other person wrong in a mean spirited way.

    I don’t know how that can translate on a larger scale, but my experience suggests that any attempt to get Americans to stop being fearful of X, Y, or Z cannot be approached from a position of sanctimony or a position of “I am truth-teller.” A gentler and more reconciliatory tone must be maintained; it helps to not feel/think you are better than the person you are “converting” to the truth. With that appropriate tone, you can then approach the situation from the area where the factual flaws are most prominent. Why would Mexican cartels let ISIS set up? If the US is bombing ISIS in Iraq and Syria why would they not do the same in Mexico? How did they setup this base, with what resources? Those sorts of questions usually set people off to do their own discovery. I appreciate that you attempt to do that on your website here. I’d encourage you to be patient and continue with your missions. You’re doing the right thing.

    Lastly, have you considered how America’s steady diet of non-news media has affected America’s willingness to cringe in fear and trust the government? Fast and Furious 7 pitted the embattled, barely-by-a-shoe-string Americans against terrorists who had the ability to use the internet to see everyone as well as drones and a helicopter. Our media encourages us to trust the zinger throwing cop and to just dance and buy things and indulge ourselves when our problems linger.

    PF Khans

    1. PF Khans,

      Thank you for this thought-provoking comment. You raise some large issues. Here are 2 brief notes in reply, just scratching the surface of these things.

      (1) “how America’s steady diet of non-news media has affected America’s willingness to cringe in fear and trust the government?”

      Cause and effect are such complex things. Finding a perspective from which cause & effect — chicken & egg — can be seen (or imagined) is imo often the first step to understanding. I believe that our weakness is the prior. Once discovered, our elites have exploited it. The news media and non-news media (nice term!) are just transmission mechanisms. We own our response. We are responsible for our fear and gullibility. Which brings us to…

      (2) How to change this.

      Scientists have a soft division between small and large scale phenomena. Relativity and quantum mechanics in physics. Macro and micro in economics. Psychology and sociology. You are dealing with this on a micro basis, which is important. My perspective concerns how to make individuals do so — starting with themselves, then conveying this insight to others. It always starts with the man (and woman) in the mirror.

      It’s an old problem in western history: how to get people to change. In our past it was almost exclusively the realm of religion, and most urgent for protestants — who speak of revivals. See Wikipedia’s entries for the various Great Awakenings. I believe in an operational sense that’s what we need.

      There are other modes of social action, usually focused on conflict with designated bad guys. Which are, of course, abundant now as always. But those seldom work well, and often FAIL spectacularly and tragically — hence the desire of leaders to unleash such energies only when under tight control. Sometimes they succeed. But I believe we have an opportunity to try something different. But that’s guessing, or faith — quite devoid of any evidence.

      From another perspective: getting people to share you view is a function of a successful organization. It is not part of building an organization, which consists of finding people who share your goals. I saw the FM website as a means to do the latter, not the former. So far no results.

      “Nor seek to persuade for the pleasure of having another share your views. He’ll share them when the times comes… or you’ve misjudged the moment in history.”
      — Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

    2. Fabius Maximus,

      I have a couple thoughts on what you just said.

      You may want to consider the history of the medium you are using if you are hoping to build an organization. The Internet was designed by our military as a way of communicating effectively and organizing a previously built organization. It was to help the military do what it does best, converge on the enemy and destroy them. Similarly successful organizing efforts on the Internet have either capitalized on previous organization or have been predicated on spurring people based on an incident or crisis to action. The Internet as currently built is a tool for flash mobs. Using it to build the longer term foundation for serious, sustained social change is another task and may require a different Internet. The technology and medium might be ill suited to this task or it might be that we haven’t figured out how to use it correctly yet.

      For my anecdotal part, though, I have found your calls to organize and respond to be well founded and worthwhile, and I have taken more actions, both political and organizational, since I’ve started reading your blog than ever before. I think your call is correct and your writings spot on but if you need to change your format to achieve your goals, you should consider doing that.

      PF Khans

    3. P F Khans,

      “You may want to consider the history of the medium you are using if you are hoping to build an organization.”

      (1) I don’t believe the initial origin of an invention is relevant to its evolution. Gunpowder was invented for fireworks.

      (2) The series I just finished said that the internet was not an effective mechanism to build an organization.

      1. What if Samuel Adams tried to start the Revolution by blogging?
      2. What if the Founders’ generation read the news as we do?
      3. Samuel Adams started the Revolution because he didn’t have Twitter.
    4. Fabius Maximus,

      Fair enough! You ever consider a podcast though? Radio seems to have some mobilizing capacity that other media distribution methods do not match well. Just a thought.

      PF Khans

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