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Are LARPers Really a National Security Threat?

The media deceive the public time and time again to engineer consent and then blame us for being skeptical.

A scene from the Capitol riot. (By Alex Gakos/Shutterstock)

Since the dawn of modern propaganda during the First World War marketing executives have perfected the use of archetypes and association to harness subconscious reactions on behalf of “engineering consent.” The coverage of events surrounding the Capitol siege of January 6 provides a textbook example of these techniques in action. A bunch of people who like to dress up in tactical gear have been breathlessly depicted as a national security threat by elites who are eager to shame their political opponents. Stepping outside the media’s echo chamber reveals a narrative that’s so distorted and self-serving that it’s like listening to Baghdad Bob give a press briefing.

For instance, 60 Minutesaired a segment about members of the Oath Keepers militia who participated in the breach of the Capitol. The report described how militia members communicated using an unencrypted smartphone app that was both monitored and recorded by outside third parties on January 6. The program also highlighted a clip where Oath Keepers pose for a camera after making it inside the building. In the video shot you can hear them exclaim “We’re in the f***ing Capitol bro!” As if they just landed backstage passes at a Metallica show.

In other words, these weren’t people who were seriously trying to hide their actions or their identities. It is common knowledge that smartphones are glorified tracking devices. If these militia members had intended to foment an insurrection they deserve the OPSEC edition of the Darwin Awards.

Organizations like ISIS and the Taliban don’t behave like football hooligans from Manchester, knocking down metal gates and storming the other team’s stands. They don’t vocally seek out politicians in their place of work to perform a “citizen’s arrest.” They eschew bear spray and barroom brawling in favor of launching targeted surprise attacks using RPGs and heavy artillery. Look back over the Capitol breach footage, and then take a moment to contemplate the hundreds of mass graves that ISIS left in its wake. That, dear reader, is what a genuine national security threat looks like. Not a stack of weekend warriors who broke through understaffed police lines.

Insurgents also recognize that they can be hunted down and killed if they so much as use a cellphone. In an age where UHF signals (encrypted or otherwise) result in volley of hellfire missiles, no jihadists in their right minds digitally announce their presence in a theater of combat so that everyone and their uncle can tune in to listen to things unfold. Not if they want to keep breathing. Nor do they tend to publicize their personal details on social media, essentially telling the authorities, “Here I am, come arrest me.” Those are the actions of political activists trying to make a spectacle.

One person of interest during the events of January 6 doesn’t fall in with the rest of the amateur hour crowd. The FBI is still looking for whoever was walking around D.C. planting pipe bombs. The unknown suspect didn’t make any of the careless errors committed by the slew of defendants charged by the Department of Justice. In fact, the Feds are so bereft of leads that they’ve leveraged gait analysis in an effort to identify the hooded bomber. Your author suspects that the bomber adopted a peculiar gait with the explicit intention of foiling said analysis.

The mysterious pipe bomber was an exception to the rule, demonstrating that nearly everything else related to the Capitol siege has been blown way out of proportion via threat inflation. The various factions that comprise the mainstream news have achieved consensus. They’ve decided to cement their political advantage by linking certain traits to certain demographics. Anyone who dares to question their talking points, their agenda, or exhibit any hint of critical thinking can be smeared as a wild-eyed conspiracy theorist, an extremist, or a traitor. So much for “unity” and constructive dialogue.

The portrayal of Ashli Babbitt’s gruesome fate is particularly telling. In a recent piece on the topic, the New York Times seems reluctant to even mention her name. Per the headline she’s just another “rioter.” The Associated Press offers similar treatment. As does NBC. In general the whole episode appears to have been swept under the rug. Just like the identity of the police officer who killed her.

Why are the outlets being so restrained?  Is it because Ashli wasn’t a convicted armed robber? Is it because she didn’t struggle with substance abuse? Is it because she didn’t burn down businesses in Minneapolis and cause a billion dollars’ worth of damage? Or maybe it’s because, being an entrepreneur and Air Force veteran with four tours of duty under her belt, she’s somehow disqualified from the 24/7 media spotlight that elevates other police casualties?

Buried at the end of its update the New York Timeslets the mask slip, referring to Babbitt as “a martyr-like figure for the far-right extremists who have supported former President Donald J. Trump,” effectively implying that anyone who mourns her death or supports Donald Trump might be an extremist. It’s difficult not to see this article as an attempt to divide and polarize.

Odd that, how the New York Timesderides sectarianism on one hand while they fan the flames with the other. A brief survey of the Gray Lady’s history exposes a disturbing pattern of behavior. Decade after decade of deceptions. Big ones. Denying the Holodomor in Ukraine, imaginary nuclear weapons in Iraq, concealing information about illegal mass surveillance, false allegations that the president was a puppet of the Russian government, and dubious stories regarding bounties in Afghanistan. All the while the paper, with its copious (yet selective) fact checking, presents itself as an antidote for misinformation and fake news. To add insult to injury the Times has the gall to publicly wonder why people don’t trust what they read, blaming readers for the paper’s self-inflicted wounds.

It’s all part of the manipulation.

Despite the ink spilled over foreign meddling, it is vastly overshadowed, in scale and scope, by domestic actors. Hundreds of billions of dollars every year feed an industry which defines the terms of public debate while attempting to ram its values down our throats. Focus on clumsy Russian active measures, the pundits say, and pay no attention to the tycoon behind the curtain. The decision makers behind the Mighty Wurlitzer have formed ranks and taken sides, from the C-suites in Hollywood, to Silicon Valley, to boardrooms on Madison Avenue. Folks, they aren’t even trying to be subtle anymore. Aspiring to objectivity has been replaced by something more akin to wartime propaganda, replete with cheerleading and censorship, such that anyone watching the nightly news would be advised to wear a splash apron.

The tectonic plates of history are once again in motion. While the world buckles and shifts under our feet the establishment will scramble to rein us in and bend us to its will. Thankfully the American spirit defined by this country’s pioneers and visionaries has always been wild at heart. The Great Reset is afoot, dear reader, and the elites have shown their hand. The decisions you make now will have consequences later. Choose wisely.

Bill Blunden is an independent investigator focusing on information security, anti-forensics, and institutional analysis. He is the author of several books, including The Rootkit Arsenal and Behold a Pale Farce: Cyberwar, Threat Inflation, and the Malware-Industrial Complex. Bill is the lead investigator at Below Gotham Labs.

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