Friday, February 1, 2013

Just How Paranoid Are Some Indiana Legislators? Beware the Agenda 21 Boogeyman!

There have always been conspiracy theories and there have always been those who believe in them. But it seems that during Democratic presidential administrations, the penchant for belief in conspiracy theories grows exponentially. When you add in the Internet and cable television, the ease with which these conspiracy theories are transmitted means that many, many more people are exposed to them. Add to that certain high profile conspiracy mongers (most notably Glenn Beck) and the likelihood that these conspiracy theories become mainstream or accepted as “truth” becomes almost assured. When elected officials or legitimate, mainstream candidates voice these conspiracies, we’ve entered into a new, facts-free, world of danger because legislation based on conspiracy, rather than truth, evidence, and logic, is not legislation that will really be in the best interests of … well, anybody.

Which brings me to Agenda 21.

I’m sure that you’ve heard of Agenda 21 by now. Right? It’s almost impossible to listen to anything coming from the Tea Party or the far right without hearing about Agenda 21. It has become the “New World Order” or “black helicopter” conspiracy of the 21st Century (which, by the way, is what the 21 stands for…). Here are just a few examples of how conspiracy-minded people on the right talk about Agenda 21:

According to TeaParty911:

If you were to hear that in the very near future the United States will have no privately owned property, no air conditioning, no dams, no paved roads, no way to correct rivers for flood control, no golf courses, no pastureland used for grazing, would you believe it?

These are all mandates of a United Nations program called Agenda 21 which was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. All delegates watched as four men, holding poles attached to an “Ark of Hope” which contained this Agenda 21 document! Within its pages are a substantial attack on the American Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. The primary target for the changes proposed in 1992 is the United States of America. 

From Morphcity:

It is the blueprint for depopulation and total control, under the banner of saving the environment.  It is like the head of a beast that has thousands of tentacles, originating from the United Nations.

From Freedom Advocates:

It is about controlling the natural resources. If the resources are controlled, the people are controlled. The screws are already tightening on us. Does it make any sense that we must use poisonous, difficult to dispose of, fluorescent lighting in kitchens now? These things should be a personal choice. No doubt in time the use of all natural resources will be highly regulated.

Of course, as in the old Soviet Union, not everyone will be required to live the peasant lifestyle. Those who play along will be rewarded. But the reward will only be a temporary one. It comes down to “the end justifies the means”. The “useful idiots” will be in for a big surprise when they realize the noose they helped to tie will be placed around their own necks.

Maybe you’d prefer the John Birch Society (sorry, I refuse to provide a link to this organization):

Basically it’s the UN’s plan to establish control over all human activity, including man’s reputed contribution to climate change. The UN is at the hub of a global network working to submerge the independence of all nations in a world government controlled by the elites, and JBS calls for the U.S. to get out of the U.N.

And who can forget Glenn Beck? He has made the Agenda 21 conspiracy a prime focus of his shows, to the point of even writing a novel positing what will happen after the implementation of Agenda 21. Here’s how Amazon describes the book:

Just a generation ago, this place was called America. Now, after the worldwide implementation of a UN-led program called Agenda 21, it’s simply known as “the Republic.” There is no president. No Congress. No Supreme Court. No freedom.

There are only the Authorities.

Citizens have two primary goals in the new Republic: to create clean energy and to create new human life. Those who cannot do either are of no use to society. This bleak and barren existence is all that eighteen-year-old Emmeline has ever known. She dutifully walks her energy board daily and accepts all male pairings assigned to her by the Authorities. Like most citizens, she keeps her head down and her eyes closed.

Until the day they come for her mother.

“You save what you think you’re going to lose.”

Woken up to the harsh reality of her life and her family’s future inside the Republic, Emmeline begins to search for the truth. Why are all citizens confined to ubiquitous concrete living spaces? Why are Compounds guarded by Gatekeepers who track all movements? Why are food, water and energy rationed so strictly? And, most important, why are babies taken from their mothers at birth? As Emmeline begins to understand the true objectives of Agenda 21 she realizes that she is up against far more than she ever thought. With the Authorities closing in, and nowhere to run, Emmeline embarks on an audacious plan to save her family and expose the Republic — but is she already too late?

Read some of the reviews of the book by Beck’s acolytes or fans and you’ll see a frightening tendency for them to blur the understanding of fact and speculative fiction and to thank Beck for warning them about the evils and horrors of Agenda 21.

Does that give you an idea of how some people view Agenda 21. And, before I go any further, are you inclined to believe those hyperbolic, paranoid descriptions? Good. Because I think that writer Lloyd Alter got it just right when he described Agenda 21 as the “Tea Party Theory of Everything”. The description from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Spring 2012 Intelligence Report also puts the Agenda 21 conspiracy into appropriate context:

In the last several years, an obscure United Nations accord called Agenda 21 has emerged as something of a unified field theory for the antigovernment movement. 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.”

For a growing cast of far-right hardliners, Agenda 21 is a sort of Trojan horse, a totalitarian scheme with a green environmental mask, lying in wait to destroy America as we know it.

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.

Under Agenda 21, these activists argue, the expansive American way of life, in which everyone can aspire to the dream of owning a house with a big yard and two cars in the driveway, will be replaced by one in which increasing numbers are crammed into urbanized “pack ’em and stack ’em” apartment complexes, and forced to use mass transportation and live according to a collectivist ethos. Once the UN’s radical utopia is achieved, gun ownership will be forbidden and the UN will raise an army intent on terrorizing the populace in the name of social order and equality, sustainability and smart growth — all words that anti-Agenda 21 activists believe signal the true intent of the UN’s plan.

(For those who are unfamiliar with the Southern Poverty Law Center — and I encourage you to become familiar with the group — it is a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society. The group keeps tabs on hate groups, including white supremacists, survivalists, and other similar organizations.)

So, who do you want to believe, Glenn Beck, the John Birch Society, and Tea Party 911 — or the Southern Poverty Law Center?

If you’re interested, why not do what most of those who are so terribly afraid of Agenda 21 probably have not done: Go read it yourself. The entire Agenda 21 document is available online (and has been for a long time). As you’ll see, it has a lot of feel good language about making the world a better place, providing for sustainable development, and for helping developing nations develop without trashing the planet in the process. And please remember that Agenda 21 was signed by that known ultra-liberal treehugger George H.W. Bush. Let me just point you to one important statement from the Introduction to Agenda 21 (emphasis added):

The agreements, which were negotiated over two and half years leading up to the Summit and finalized in Rio, are presented here in final form. While they lack the force of international law, the adoption of the texts carries with it a strong moral obligation to ensure their full implementation.

Yet the paranoid fear-mongers are obsessing over the power of Agenda 21 and the United Nations to curtail American constitutional freedoms. Never mind that Agenda 21 doesn’t even have the force of international law, for even if it did, no treaty can trump our Constitution. Yes, we can enter into treaties which have the force of law (after ratification by the Senate), but those treaties can never reduce the rights protected by the Constitution. The Supreme Court has held that on several occasions, yet the far right paranoid fringe always seems to forget this salient point (just look at the refusal of Republican senators to vote to ratify a UN treaty on people with disabilities or the fear that a UN treaty to reduce international gun trafficking would allow the UN to take guns away from Americans). But at least in those cases, we were talking about treaties that would have the force of international law. Agenda 21 doesn’t even rise to that level.

And please don’t think that this fear of Agenda 21 is limited to the far right doomsday preppers living in their fallout shelters. In 2010, Dan Maes, the Republican candidate for Governor in Colorado, cited Agenda 21 as the reason for his opposition to a plan for Denver to make rental bikes available throughout the city.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes is warning voters that Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper’s policies, particularly his efforts to boost bike riding, are “converting Denver into a United Nations community.”

“This is all very well-disguised, but it will be exposed,” Maes told about 50 supporters who showed up at a campaign rally last week in Centennial.

Maes said in a later interview that he once thought the mayor’s efforts to promote cycling and other environmental initiatives were harmless and well-meaning. Now he realizes “that’s exactly the attitude they want you to have.”

“This is bigger than it looks like on the surface, and it could threaten our personal freedoms,” Maes said.

He added: “These aren't just warm, fuzzy ideas from the mayor. These are very specific strategies that are dictated to us by this United Nations program that mayors have signed on to.”

Believe it or not, opposition to and fear of Agenda 21 isn’t limited to candidates for state office. Nope. Here is a paragraph from “We Believe in America: Republican Platform 2012” (page 45; emphasis added):

Under our Constitution, treaties become the law of the land. So it is all the more important that the Congress — the Senate through its ratifying power and the House through its appropriating power — shall reject agreements whose long-range impact on the American family is ominous or unclear. These include the U.N. Convention on Women’s Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty as well as the various declarations from the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development. Because of our concern for American sovereignty, domestic management of our fisheries, and our country’s long-term energy needs, we have deep reservations about the regulatory, legal, and tax regimes inherent in the Law of the Sea Treaty and congratulate Senate Republicans for blocking its ratification. We strongly reject the U.N. Agenda 21 as erosive of American sovereignty, and we oppose any form of U.N. Global Tax. We oppose any diplomatic efforts that could result in giving the United Nations unprecedented control over the Internet. International regulatory control over the open and free Internet would have disastrous consequences for the United States and the world.

Which brings me to Indiana and Senate Bill 134 introduced by Sen. Dennis Kruse (yes, the same Indiana Senator who wants children to recite The Lord’s Prayer and require federal law enforcement officials to get the consent of country sheriffs before making arrests for federal crimes):

Chapter 4.5. Prohibition Against Implementation of United Nations' Agenda 21 Policies
    Sec. 1. As used in this chapter, “Agenda 21” refers to the policy recommendations originating in, or traceable to, the program adopted by the United Nations in 1992 at its Conference on Environment and Development.
    Sec. 2. As used in this chapter, “Agenda 21 organization” refers to a nongovernmental or an intergovernmental entity accredited or enlisted by the United Nations to assist in the implementation of Agenda 21.
    Sec. 3. As used in this chapter, “governmental entity” refers to any of the following:
        (1) The state of Indiana.
        (2) An agency of the executive, judicial, or legislative department of the state.
        (3) A political subdivision (as defined in IC 36-1-2-13).
        (4) Any other entity established by Indiana law.
    Sec. 4. A governmental entity may not do any of the following:
        (1) Adopt or implement any:
            (A) Agenda 21 policy recommendation that deliberately or inadvertently infringes on or restricts private property rights without due process; or
            (B) other international law or ancillary plan of action that contravenes the Constitution of the United States or the Constitution of the State of Indiana.
        (2) Enter into any agreement with, expend any sum of money received from, or pay any money to, an Agenda 21 organization.
    Sec. 5. An action described in section 4 of this chapter is void.

Obviously, Sen. Kruse must believe in the Agenda 21 conspiracy theories; why else would he introduce a bill like this one?

So let’s take a quick look at Sen. Kruse’s bill, the meat of which is contained in Section 4. He doesn’t want Indiana (or an agency or city) to implement an Agenda 21 policy recommendation that “infringes or restricts private property rights without due process.” Where to start. First, how about the fact that Agenda 21 doesn’t have policy recommendations that restrict private property rights (though there are apparently suggestions that certain private property usage aren’t healthy for a sustainable environment, such as strip mining, polluting, or … well, I think you get the idea). More importantly, no matter what Agenda 21 might recommend, neither the State of Indiana nor an agency or city would have the right to restrict private property usage without due process. Why not? Because of the Constitutions (both the United States Constitution and the Indiana Constitution). In other words, Senator Kruse is worried that Agenda 21 would require Indiana to do things that Agenda 21 does not require and which Indiana would already be prohibited from doing were they required. Just in case those precautions against doing something that can’t be done aren’t enough, Sen. Kruse also wants to be sure that Indiana doesn’t implement other international laws that contravene the Constitutions (hmm, why limit that to international law and not laws that, for example, would directly violate the First Amendment or the Supremacy Clause, like those introduced by Sen. Kruse this year?) because, you know, we always adopt laws from the UN or other countries that violate our own Constitutions, right?

And then we get to the prohibition on entering into agreements with, spending money received from, or paying money to an Agenda 21 organization. Thus, if an “Agenda 21 organization” wanted to help Indianapolis develop a bike share program for downtown, the city would prohibited from accepting that money because, you know, doing so would inevitably lead toward the new world order and the UN subjugation of America. Or something. I think.

What is it about the wide world outside their insular communities that so frightens so many Republicans?

I mean, you really have to think about the fears that Sen. Kruse must have in order to feel the need to introduce this bill. More importantly, though, is the simple fact that his belief in the paranoid Agenda 21 conspiracy theories demonstrates that he lives in an alternate reality world not governed by evidence and logic. Add to that the fact that we have a legislator worried about the United Nations forcing us to violate the Constitution at the same time that he is introducing legislation that would do just that!

How can we allow ourselves to be represented by elected officials who base their legislative activities around paranoid conspiracies … and who, at the same time, voluntarily seek ways to violate the Constitution?

For more information on Agenda 21 and the conspiracy theorists causing the paranoid hyperventilation about it, please see the article “Exposing the Influence Behind the Anti-Agenda 21 Anti-Sustainability Agenda” by Lloyd Alter.

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