Now that Jade Helm 15 is underway and no invasion has occurred, Texans are beginning to feel a bit more relief that their state will remain safe. Still, there is one question which should be asked, but probably isn’t.
Who stands to benefit from all this conspiracy theory insanity?
There are numerous possibilities, but some of the players in this whole silly affair definitely bear watching. They range from conspiracy talk show hosts to websites foisting a barrage of misinformation, to companies peddling all sorts of supplies for so-called doomsday preppers. The opportunity for profit off the backs of ignorant-but-caring folks is so ripe, it appears some folks just can’t help themselves, so here’s a brief rundown of who has a stake in the insanity continuing.
Alex Jones: Say this name, and “conspiracy theory” comes to mind. The Texas-based broadcaster has made a name for himself through a variety of avenues, but his claim to fame comes from his infamous video broadcast of the so-called “Bohemian Grove Ceremony,” in which Jones claims to have infiltrated a super-secret meeting of power-brokers and global leaders held deep in a forest in California. While the video has never been fully authenticated, conspiracy theory enthusiasts and right-wing reactionaries alike have made major hay of this purported human sacrifice incident, with a Google search returning over 748,000 links. Jones has parlayed this yes-it-is, no-it-isn’t incident into a multi-million dollar enterprise, earning him appearances on the syndicated late night Coast To Coast AM series.
Glenn Beck: While nowhere near as “out there” as Jones, Beck has tossed out more than a few conspiracy whoppers during both his radio show and his ill-fated TV tenure on Fox News. In fact, his own views were considered so controversial that Fox, widely considered the conservative standard bearer for news networks, ultimately dumped Beck. Nonetheless, the ultra-conservative commentator was able successful pivot that incident into a the highly successful news website TheBlaze.com, along with several other enterprises which Beck either outright owns, or is a major stakeholder in. As the conspiracies build, Beck laughs…all the way to the bank.
Survival Outfitters: Many folks seem to forget that companies which advertise doomsday survival supplies are banking on the end-of-the-world not happening. Without a market to pander to, these companies do not make money, but they are extremely skilled at using fear as a way to drive sales, and are very good at knowing the demographics and markets which make money. While the chances of survival of most doomsday scenarios are lower than low, don’t tell that to companies pitching food, water, and other supplies.
Gold Peddlers: Let’s face facts – nothing says “huge payday” to a precious metals seller as a conspiracy theory. While many reputable numismatic investment firms have shied away from association with known conspiracy theory-driven hosts and pundits, others have embraced the so-called “lunatic fringe” with reckless abandon. During the Y2K fiasco, precious metal sellers predicted huge spikes in the value of gold and silver – unfortunately, they suffered from a slight bit of myopia. Gold did experience a massive bull market – five years later. Still more insidious are the gold peddlers who advertise gold as an addition to a retirement portfolio and not an actual hard, tangible, hold-in-hand investment. As the saying goes, he who has the gold makes the rules, so does anyone really trust an investment firm to hold someone else’s gold when all hell breaks loose?
False Prophets: While the Book of Revelation speaks of “false prophets” in the end times, history is replete with so-called “men of God” who are merely wolves in ministerial clothing. These fake preachers continue to prey on individuals looking for salvation and some assurance of a place in Paradise. In one of the most memorable, California’s Harold Camping actually predicted the end of the world twice, then later attributed the failure of the apocalypse to arrive on schedule to “mathematical error.” While many of these preachers are rendered to irrelevance when their visions do not come to pass, many more have learned to be cagey with their so-called “prophecies,” and give some set time for events to take place, or make a specific prediction but owe its not coming to pass as a matter of human error, that the divine mission of ministry and “bringing people closer to God” had been fulfilled.
Rapture Enthusiasts: Despite a highly-skewed interpretation of the Book of Revelation and other biblical texts, as well as attribution to non-traditional scriptural sources and even fictional series such as Left Behind, these folks are probably the most benign of the bunch for a simple reason – in most cases, they genuinely believe what they are saying and preparing for. Some are afraid of death and see the Rapture as a way to bypass physical death, while others are of the belief this event is the actual sure-fire (no pun intended) means of making it to heaven. Either way, their particular zeal tends to feed in to many conspiracies, and some actually seem tailor-made to pander to this demographic. Sadly, some of these folks do go off the rails, and it can lead to very bad results, such as a Russian teen’s 2011 suicide due to fears of the Rapture caused by Camping’s aforementioned endtimes prediction.