The great butterfly sanctuary conspiracy

So there’s a butterfly sanctuary in Texas, just north of the border with Mexico. Trump wanted to build a new section of border wall through the butterfly sanctuary, even though the sanctuary is not in Mexico or even touching Mexico. The butterfly sanctuary does not endorse this plan. Therefore, the lunatics hate the butterfly sanctuary and have been trying to break it.

A Congressional candidate and someone she called a “Secret Service agent” showed up at the sanctuary and demanded entry “so that they could go see ‘illegals crossing on rafts’.”

“Immediately, we knew what that was about,” [Marianne] Wright told The Daily Beast on Thursday. “It was an echo and reiteration of the lies Steve Bannon’s ‘We Build The Wall’ campaign published and promoted against us for years.”

Wright is the executive director of the National Butterfly Center, a private nature preserve in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley. The center is a sanctuary for hundreds of butterfly species—and a frequent target for conspiracy theorists after Wright and her colleagues opposed the Trump administration’s plans to build a border wall through the middle of the property.

Although the National Butterfly Center is located in Texas, Donald Trump’s proposed wall would run two miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, bisecting the protected land. In 2019, the center filed a restraining order against the construction project. That court filing made the center a fixation of the far right.

One Trumpist group, the Bannon-backed “We Build the Wall” campaign, targeted the center with conspiracy theories. Brian Kolfage, a leader of the group, repeatedly tweeted that the National Butterfly Center was harboring an illegal sex trade and dead bodies.

Sounds like that DC pizza parlor that kept – what was it? child prostitutes? – in its basement, at the behest of Hillary Clinton.

By late 2019, conspiracy theorists were circulating memes falsely accusing the National Butterfly Center of being a front for sex traffickers. Wright and colleagues faced in-person threats from members of militia groups like the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters, as well as threatening phone calls and emails from a man who was revealed to be a Texas police officer.

It’s impressive the way they kill multiple birds with one stone. Butterfly sanctuaries have nothing to do with border policy or immigration or MAGA or any of it but hey, there’s one sitting there, super close to the border, so might as well try to stamp out interest in nature, protection of wildlife, educational projects, and all that hippy shit, yeah?

Updating to add: I think I got it wrong about the butterfly center not touching Mexico. The article doesn’t say that, I find on reading more carefully, and on Google maps it looks as if it’s bordered by the river, so in a sense it does touch Mexico. I say “looks as if” because the map doesn’t have a border mark other than the river.

While there I took a look via streetview. Recommended.

12 Responses to “The great butterfly sanctuary conspiracy”