Just to make it abundantly clear, in case the word of everyone from Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson (whose words of choice were “horse hockey”) to, er, basically every media entity in the state somehow didn’t get through to you: No, the United Nations is not taking over the Alamo.

Now that that bizarre rumor is cleared up, though, let’s get to the real question, which is: Why did this weird rumor get so much traction that officials had to issue a statement on it in the first place?  

UNESCO—The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization—is adding the Alamo to its list of “World Heritage Sites,” a list of nearly 1,000 sites of “cultural and natural heritage.” Sites ranging from the Minaret and Archaelogical Remains of Jam in Afghanistan to the Matobo Hills of Zimbabwe are on the list. There is no UN flag flying atop the 215 foot Minaret of Jam, which will also be true of the Alamo. It was added to the list with bipartisan support, and a study by Bexar County found that the designation could add an additional 1,000 jobs and $44 million to $100 million in tourism dollars annually, according to the San Antonio Express-News

But the UN is a favorite boogeyman of a strain of political paranoid that likes to, say, circulate dubiously-sourced emails and blog posts about how various liberal leaders (in this case, Julián Castro, who has no authority over the state-managed Alamo) are out to sell American sovereignty to “global society.” That helped the story spread from an email by former San Antonio Tea Party president George Rodriguez to a post on Alex Jones’s Infowars.com earlier this week. It was after Infowars contributor Kit Daniels wrote about the UNESCO list that the rumor finally gained enough traction that officials like Patterson, whose office runs the Alamo and who appeared at the site earlier this month at a gun rights rally alongside Jones himself, were compelled to address the rumor. With—and again, this is a direct quote—the words “horse hockey.” 

Rodriguez’s original email is full of breathless fear-mongering (“It is ironic that while many Texans across the state talk about the dangers of the UN’s Agenda 21, the Alamo, the very symbol of Texas liberty and freedom, may fall under U.N. influence,” he writes), but in an interview with the Express-Newshe explained that he was, you know, just tossing some possibilities around. 

Rodriguez said he wrote his report as a “cautionary piece,” having lost faith in local elected leaders. In his piece, he wrote that the Alamo “may fall under U.N. influence.” Knowing that the Alamo stands for freedom, Rodriguez said, he did nothing wrong.

“I’m just constantly saying ‘may’ or ‘might,'” in the article, Rodriguez said late Wednesday. “I’m never once saying that this is going to happen. We need to be aware.”

While “I was just speculating wildly” is not the most persuasive defense, it must be how Daniels at Infowars justified his similar post on the subject:

San Antonio, Texas Mayor Julián Castro is currently negotiating with the United Nations to designate the Alamo as a UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site, meaning that a blue UN flag may fly above the historic shrine of liberty once it falls under UN control.

“A blue UN flag may fly above the historic shrine of liberty once it falls under UN control” is not technically untrue, in the same way that “A Soviet flag may fly above the town of Calumet, Colorado if the Soviet Union reforms and the events of 1984’s Red Dawn come to pass” is not an untrue statement—just prove that it can’t happen!—but while the image of Castro personally selling out the “historic shrine of liberty” to faceless internationalist goons might be thrilling to some of Infowars readers, that part is untrue: Castro, again, has no jurisdiction over the Alamo, which is managed by the state and not by the city of San Antonio. (Jerry Patterson, presumably, is a less appealing antagonist in the selling-us-out-to-the-globalists fantasies of the Infowars crowd.) 

Daniels’s post balances its “I’m just sayin’, this may happen” speculation with emotional appeals about the importance of the Alamo and the villainy of the United Nations. 

The Alamo emerged from the battle as a sacred shrine for individual freedom in the face of collective evil.

Now the shrine is besieged by the collective UN, whose policies follow Santa Anna’s dictatorial rule rather than the values the Alamo defenders died for “in the name of Liberty, of patriotism and everything dear to the American character” as Alamo Commander William B. Travis wrote in Feb. 1836.

What proud Texan isn’t moved by the notion of the Alamo as a shrine to freedom in the face of evil? (I have a tattoo of the Alamo chapel on my right arm!) It’s easy to see why people already inclined to buy into conspiracies from sites like Infowars responded so passionately in the comments section, and why they might have been so quick to slide from “Let’s protect the Alamo” to “don’t trust the UN” to, er—see for yourself: 

Infowars commenters apparently think that the plot to turn the Alamo over to the UN—a plot that, once again, only exists in the fevered imaginations of some people who are inclined to distrust the UN and liberal politicians like Casto—is a way to “bait a violent revolt.” It seems like writing about this sort of horse-hockey is a way to bait Infowars’ more gullible readers into a further frenzy of paranoia.