Tanks and Trump and Martial Law Oh My!
Tanks and Trump and Martial Law Oh My!
We’re all a bit verklempt about the spread of coronavirus, and our fears are understandable. But along came Twitter posters pushing the panic buttons further by posting a video of “tanks” in San Diego. It came right on the heels of CA Gov. Gavin Newsom issuing a statewide “stay at home” order, so frenzied Californians expected imminent martial law.
Here’s the tweet that started the brouhaha:
— Elizabeth Sanders (@gelizabeths) March 21, 2020
Now we don’t know how old this video is, or even if those really are tanks. Some people at Twitter insisted they’re Humvees; my husband said they look like Armored Personnel Carriers. But whatever they were, they were moving by train through San Diego, freaking out already-panicked people on social media.
Others are spreading fear through text messages and on Facebook. Here’s one example:
“Here’s what my friend texted me. (His dad works for homeland security). He said that they are preparing to mobilize the national guard. Preparing to dispatch them across the US along with military.”
However, this is disinformation, according to acting Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, who wrote in response:
“Do not believe the disinformation campaigns. Please do not pass it along. Use trusted local and federal government sources.”
While Sen. Marco Rubio had a more acid quip:
“I don’t know if these are from #Putin trolls or the guys sitting around bored in their moms basement, but either way NO IT IS NOT TRUE”
It’s true that the National Guard has been called up to help out with food distribution, especially in hard hit New York. They’re also assisting with some testing for COVID-19. But they’re not there to enforce martial law. Even President Trump, the progressives’ boogeyman, said on Friday he had no plans to enact a national stay-at-home law.
But in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio would just love to see some tanks move into his town. He says that President Trump “is not acting like a Commander-in-Chief” and he should “get the hell out of the way and let the military do its job.”
All of which led other people to post ominous videos of tanks rolling through NYC with the intent of imposing martial law on the Big Apple.
However, Facebook user Chadd Sinclair quickly debunked those videos through some sleuthing of his own. He’s not sure about the San Diego video, and he is convinced that martial law will be imposed. But he shamed the internet tools who posted the fake videos of NYC “tanks,” which they most assuredly are not.
So what about those military vehicles on the train in San Diego?
First of all, the military uses trains to transport vehicles; it’s nothing unusual. As some more reasonable voices at Twitter pointed out:
“Tanks are moved on the railway system around California due to the bases around the state.”
“I see those trains along the rails all the time. They move equipment ahead of the troops for training exercises. Many are conducted through spring there and then moved to desert training during summer. Happens every year. San Diego has been a military hub for decades.”
Yet another Twitter poster claimed that this was an old video:
“1. This was 2017
2. Transportation of military equipment is the last thing to be uncommon going through San Diego
3. Stop spreading fear.”
Who knew there were voices of reason on Twitter?
I live in the Kansas City area, and for several years saw speech therapy patients at a satellite office right across the road from Ft. Leavenworth. Guess what I would often see on the highway going into the city of Leavenworth? That’s right — Humvees! Plus, I sometimes hear the double rotors of a big Chinook helicopter flying over our house — also from Ft. Leavenworth. That means the Army is doing its job by training its personnel. Around here it’s no big deal.
But this is Twitter and social media and the brain farts of panicked young adults who also thought that they would be drafted after the military took out Iranian Commander Qassim Suleimani. Trump is starting World War III! And now they think he’s imposing martial law.
None of us knows what will happen in the next few weeks. On Saturday evening I learned that I will soon be living under a 30-day “stay at home” order that will go into effect for the entire Kansas City metro. I can tell you that my local friends on Facebook are, to be blunt, pissed off, as am I. But none of us are expecting tanks to roll down Grand Avenue or Broadway Boulevard in KC, either.
The rule of thumb here should be to question everything, but verify before you post, especially now when America’s last nerve is frayed.