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Right wing paranoia over the UN's Agenda 21

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  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    I don't expect many people are that familiar with the United Nations Agenda 21, unless you subscribe to the John Birch Society or Alex Jones Infowars or Glenn Beck's Blaze website...or some of the lesser right wing websites that have latched onto and capitalized on the JBS fearing manufacturing machine. I bring this topic up in this website, not so much to promote Agenda 21, but rather to cite it as an example of how the John Birch Society can use their enormous financial resources to undermine and pretty well scuttle a well thought out United Nations program to help nations and communities manage what is termed "sustainable development" in the 21st century.

    Agenda 21 is not a treaty and it not a law. It is essentially a set of recommended best practices for communities to apply as needed. There is nothing binding on the nations or cities that want to use the resources of Agenda 21 to help them manage the environmental aspects of declining resources as the population expands. It is strictly voluntary. It was first conceptualized in the 1980s while Reagan was President, and finally adopted at the the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. It has been supported by every president since George H.W. Bush. It is a 300 page document, that addresses (from Wikipedia):

    1. The Social and Economic Dimensions of combating poverty, especially in developing countries, changing consumption patterns, promoting health, achieving a more sustainable population, and sustainable settlement in decision making,

    2. The Conservation and Management of Resources for Development including atmospheric protection, combating deforestation, protecting fragile environments, conservation of biological diversity (biodiversity), control of pollution and the management of biotechnology, and radioactive wastes,

    3. Strengthening the Role of Major Groups including children and youth, women, NGOs, local authorities, business and workers and strengthening the role of indigenous peoples, their communities, and farmers, and

    4. The Means of Implementation including science, technology transfer, education, international institutions and financial mechanisms.

    It is all good common sense stuff that would normally be embraced by both Democrats and Republicans. I read parts of it and couldn't find anything that might cause ordinary Americans to balk. It should more or less "sell itself" but the John Birch Society has had a well planned and orchestrated campaign to undermine it. When I Googled "Agenda 21", the first few pages are full of innocuous conspiracy type websites attacking it as erosive of American sovereignty. Browsing those websites, much of the material comes directly from the John Birch Society. In fact the John Birch Society puts out a Stop Agenda 21 kit of pamphlets, booklets and videos all full of misleading and false propaganda about Agenda 21.

    The Southern Poverty Law Center has highlighted the efforts of the JBS in this article: Antigovernment Conspiracy Theorists Rail Against UN’s Agenda 21 Program. From the SPLC:

    "On its face, Agenda 21 does nothing but provide countries and communities with a set of principles to grow smartly — a plan, in short, to fight overpopulation, pollution, poverty and resource depletion.

    "But for a far-flung network of antigovernment extremists who have risen up to attack it, the nonbinding document that was approved 20 years ago at the UN’s Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro is not really about preserving the planet at all. Between the lines, they argue, lies a blueprint for the “New World Order.”

    "How such an arcane UN document that defines the concept of “smart growth” and environmental sustainability became so controversial, even though it gives the UN no enforcement powers, has a lot to do with the work of a tight cadre of antigovernment “Patriot” activists whose fears are rooted in right-wing lore about a New World Order, a kind of authoritarian one-world government. Figures such as Tom DeWeese, head of the American Policy Center, Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the anti-feminist Eagle Forum, and John Bush, with Texans for Accountable Government, have in recent years crisscrossed the country to put on seminars and conferences that strike terror into those inclined to believe conspiracy theories about powerful global elites plotting to install a socialistic global government. The John Birch Society, an archconservative group formed during the Red Scare of the 1950s, regularly assails Agenda 21 with the fervor it once reserved for communists."


    I recommend reading the entire SPLC article. The final point I'll make is that it is very scary to me how these right wing groups like the JBS can so indoctrinate such a significant segment of the populace with their fear mongering. It is so pervasive that even the Republican Party Platform has embraced the conspiracy theories:

    ThinkProgress, August 15, 2012: Republican Party Officially Embraces ‘Garbage’ Agenda 21 Conspiracy Theories As Its National Platform

    What really worries me is that the campaign against Agenda 21 is not an isolated "one issue" topic but rather one of many issues in which the JBS uses fear to indoctrinate the ignorant amongst us. It was happened before in history as one can look at the roots of fascism in Europe and South America in the 20th century.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Just to pick up on a final point made by Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center:

    "Well, I think, this kind of politics is clearly hurting us as a nation. It is making it extremely difficult to move forward in any rational way. We can’t debate immigration rationally because we think there is a conspiracy to steal a part of our country on the part of Mexico. We can’t discuss homosexuality or same-sex marriage rationally because these groups tell us that gay people are seeking to forcibly convert our kids to being gay, and so on.

    "It just seems that on issue after issue after issue we are no longer having disagreements about a certain set of facts. Instead we have two sides presenting absolute alternative realities. And the bottom line, I think, is that from the political right, or the far right, that we are seeing almost nothing but a string of conspiracy theories that have virtually nothing to do with reality. So we cannot even have a rational debate about things that we admittedly disagree about. Instead, we spend our time fending off utterly baseless, fear-mongering conspiracy theories that prevent us moving forward in any way as a society.

    "At the turn of the 21st century we are facing very major problems. We are at a time of great social and environmental change and we need to seriously address them — not poison ourselves with the conspiracy theories and baseless fear-mongering that we see today."


    I'll certainly agree to every point made by Potok. I have tried to understand how these conspiracy theories take off so easily and am not convinced that many of them are spontaneous. In the case of the John Birch Society at least, they are manufactured and can only thrive with a constant dosage of fear mongering.
  • Center Left Democrat
    Democrat
    Flagstaff, AZ
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    Schmidt:


    One of the columnists for the Arizona Republic (Laurie Roberts) had a column about this topic about a week ago.

    One of our Arizona legislators (Judy Burgess) introduced SB 1403 recently, which would bar state and local governments from abiding by any of the principles set forth in the United Nations Declaration on Environment and Development. (which is Agenda 21)

    Although my new state managed to get rid of some of the more extreme politicians last November, Judy Burgess is still with us. In fact, she captured 100% of the vote in the last election because she ran unopposed.

    She apparently is convinced that Agenda 21 is a plot to destroy America.

    I sent a lengthy letter back to Ms. Roberts, and enumerated most of the points that you covered already. but I also mentioned that Ms. Burgess is a member of ALEC, as are numerous other legislators in Phoenix.

    Less than a month ago, Ms. Burgess also introduced a bill that would allow teachers to deny global warming.

    To give you an idea how nutty Judy Burgess and other believers in the Article 21 conspiracy are, the following paragraphs pretty well sum it up:


    “I appear before you to address a United Nations program that is designed to change our way of life, our heritage and our liberties as outlined and protected by our most precious Constitution,” she announced. “I testify to you against the seductive evils contained in the United Nations’ agenda for the 21st Century and more easily stated, Agenda 21.”

    “The truth contained within this United Nations program depicts something sinister and dark,” she told her fellow lawmakers. “The plan calls for government to take control of all land use and not leave any decisions in the hands of private property owners. It is assumed by the backers of Agenda 21 that people are not good stewards of the land and the government will do a better job if it’s in control. Individual rights are to be given away to the global community as determined by a global governing body, not by local elected representatives … and folks, not even your state Legislature. Furthermore, the contents of the United Nations program reveal that people should be rounded up off their own land and relocated to human settlements close to employment centers and transportation hubs.”



    here's the rest of Laurie's column:

    http://www.azcentral.com/insiders/laurieroberts/2013/02/19/protecting-arizona-one-conspiracy-at-a-time/#comments

    the link below will provide further details of my opinion of conspiracy theorists:

    http://ts1.mm.bing.net/th?id=H.4716003841671944&pid=1.7&w=200&h=153&c=7&rs=1

    (the caption reads, "Entertaining Idiots for Decades")

    In case you're wondering, the balance of the files related to the JFK assassination are scheduled to be released to the public in 2017 ....
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Thanks Arizona. It seems that these crazies are running around all over the country. I did a bit of googling and found another earlier article related to Senator Burgess's crusade to stop Agenda 21.

    AZCentral.com, April 2, 2012: Tea party'-backed bill to halt green programs

    I wonder if Burgess is a John Birch Society member. The article says Tea Party but they are one and the same.

    It's amazing, if not scary, how far reaching this Stop Agenda 21 campaign has become. Someone or group associated with the John Birch Society really feels threatened by it...perhaps the Koch brothers. I'll have to do some more digging.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    I dug out this tread from the past as the topic has come up again in another thread.
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Denton, TX
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    Nice. Yeah, very informative.