Anna Janek, a writer for the Project NSearch web site, urges her readers to “Help Spread the truth about God, Cures to Cancer and Much More”. The “Much More” category includes a wild diversity of things, including a grave accusation against the Obama Administration: That President Barack Obama ordered the manufacture in China and delivery to the United States of tens of thousands of boxcars equipped on the inside with shackles to chain people as prisoners. Also included in every one of these railroad cars, according to Janek, is a guillotine, for the execution of prisoners through decapitation on the spot.
Why decapitation by guillotine, when gunshot is a much easier method of execution? Janek doesn’t say. She does warn us that there are several witnesses who claim to have seen these giant boxcar prisons themselves. Janek writes, “Metal worker Lee Harrington also described 20,000 CHINESE prisoner boxcars with shackles and modern guillotines, in the form of 40 foot railroad containers, coming into America via the west coast. They were ordered by the American government through a Senator who visited China and ordered these items. Workers unloading them became suspicious and began to investigate and discovered these horrors from China. Such 40 foot cargo containers from China are now piled up along the West Coast, especially around Long Beach Naval Shipyard, turned over the Chinese.”
Janek hasn’t bothered to explain how a metalworker has come to know about the schedule of secret trips by U.S. senators, but such lack of detail in her story does not deter her enthusiasm. Janek continues, “Recently, a former high level satanist from the mountains of North Carolina, now a Christian and receiving discipleship, admitted that boxcars with shackles were indeed in the mountains of NC and waiting for the hour of martial law. (Asheville, NC) He warned that many Patriots and Christians arrested and secured into these prisoner boxcars under martial law will never even make it to the death camps.. that many will be tortured and sacrificed once restrained in these prisoner boxcars.”
These allegations are useful in considering the plausibility of the boxcar gulag conspiracy theory, because they contain clear statistics: We’re told that there are 20,000 boxcars with shackles and guillotines, each boxcar 40 feet long. The headline of Janek’s article asserts, without citing any specific evidence, that 102,000 boxcar prisons were ordered, but just to be on the conservative side, let’s go along with the 20,000 boxcar-of-doom story. If each prisoner was given 4 feet of wall space (generous in comparison to the prison rail cars used by dictatorships in the past), and prisoners were chained on both walls of each boxcar, then each boxcar would hold 20 prisoners. (Some versions of the conspiracy theory assert that the prison boxcars are multistory, but let’s put that assertion aside for the moment, again to be on the conservative side.) If the Obama Administration really had 20,000 of these boxcars on its hands, then it would be preparing to imprison at least 400,000 Americans in these railroad gulags.
If Barack Obama were planning such a mass imprisonment, it would be alarming. The thing is, there isn’t any verifiable evidence that any such thing is taking place. All we have are unsubstantiated assertions by people like Anna Janek that they have talked to people who have claimed to have seen evidence of the conspiracy themselves. By the time we hear it, it’s third-hand hearsay.
Of course, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Absence of evidence in itself is, however, sufficient to cause strong skepticism in a case such as this. That’s because Anna Janek and her allies in alarmism are asking us to accept an extraordinary claim. Reasonable people don’t accept wild assertions about secret conspiracies without concrete proof that supports the details of the alleged conspiracies.
What’s more, Anna Janek’s suggestion that Barack Obama is preparing to make huge numbers of Americans prisoner on railway cars in particular doesn’t seem authentic to the culture and technology of our time. Yes, the Nazis and Soviets put large numbers of prisoners in boxcars to ship them off to secret prison camps – but they did so because railways were the dominant method of large-scale ground transportation in those days. Back during World War II in Germany and in Soviet Siberia afterwards, there were not roadways in many places that could easily accept the transportation of large numbers of prisoners. Nowadays in the United States, roadways are plentiful and reliable railways are not. Huge stretches of train tracks have fallen apart or been removed in the United States, and most areas remote enough to conceal secret government prisons are nowhere near railroad tracks. Given that, why would Barack Obama choose rail, of all transportation technologies, to take prisoners to his FEMA concentration camps?
The United States already has a substantial prison infrastructure in place, including systems for transporting prisoners. Anna Janek alleges that Barack Obama will take 400,000 people prisoners through the alleged stockpiles of rail cars lined with shackles, but the prison population of the United States of America is already much higher than that. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number of people held in state and federal prisons in the United States at the end of 2011 was 1,598,780 – almost four times the theoretical number of prisoners that Anna Janek is alarmed about. Few, if any, of these prisoners were transported by train. Buses and vans specially designed for the task were used.
The idea of trains filled with box cars jammed with prisoners being shipped off to concentration camps by Barack Obama seems like an anachronistic display latched on to by conspiracy theorists without the creativity to imagine how a truly up-to-date dictatorship would operate. In addition to that, the notion of prisoners individually shackled to the wall with pre-installed chains on the inside seems inefficient. Under the Nazis and the Soviets, people on prison trains were not usually individually chained. They were shoved into boxcars, and then the doors were locked. Those locked doors, plus the speed of the trains, and the isolation, disorientation and intimidation of the prisoners, was usually enough to keep them from escaping. Anna Janek’s allegations about boxcars with individualized shackling mechanisms don’t fit the actual needs of a dictatorship’s prison train.
What’s more, if the prisoners would be executed in the American gulag boxcars, using a pre-installed guillotine in each railway car, then why would the prison facilities need to be mobile at all? The whole point of a prison train would be to take people to the prisons where they would be held. There would be no need to transport people to prisons if they were executed en route.
The nonsensical design of the prison train system Anna Janek warns us of, in addition to the lack of verified evidence for the existence of such a thing, should lead reasonable people to conclude that Janek’s conspiracy isn’t likely to be something to seriously worry about. This conclusion is supported by the availability of a reasonable alternative explanation for the scanty, indirect evidence that Anna Janek does claim.
You see, there are train cars with chains pre-installed in them. The chains aren’t to keep humans prisoner, however. They’re for holding automobiles in place, so that they don’t roll around and get scratched and scuffed as they’re shipped across the country to be sold after importation on the West Coast from Korea and Japan.
The final nail in Janek’s story of a secret plan by Barack Obama to buy huge boxcars lined with shackles and guillotines is the fact that these allegations are older than the Obama Administration itself. Right wing conspiracy circles began telling the tale of massive orders of prison trains way back when George W. Bush was President. The idea then was that the boxcars were a sign of the End Times One World Government just around the corner. The legend now has been adapted to serve as evidence that Barack Obama is a Communist Muslim Antichrist. The claim that the implementation of martial law including a system of prison trains is just around the corner doesn’t make sense if the claim is repeated year after year, despite the clear lack of any actual martial law.
The story of box cars full of shackles that will be used by Barack Obama to ship true American patriots off to secret prison camps is mythology. It’s part of an ideology that depends on the belief that the democratically-elected government of the United States of America is an inherently evil institution that needs to be destroyed. Lacking any actual prison camps filled with right wing gun owners, the ideology simply invents the legend of such camps – and the transportation systems that are supposed to feed them.