Fear and Loathing of ‘Agenda 21’

February 27th, 2013 · No Comments · environment, NM Legislature, role of government, Uncategorized

By Denise Tessier

A non-binding resolution, passed at a United Nations conference more than 20 years ago, is suddenly a “threat to homes (and the) property of our middle-class” in New Mexico.

That’s according to the column, “Agenda 21 threat to homes, property of our middle-class,” which got the top spot on the Sunday Journal’s Op-Ed page, the newspaper’s highest circulation day.

Written by state Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Albuquerque, the column is vague on what Agenda 21 actually says, but we learn nine paragraphs into the column that Anderson is so worried about it he has introduced House Bill 307, “which prohibits the state of New Mexico from adopting or implementing policies that result from Agenda 21 – or the United Nations Rio Declaration of Environment and Development – without due process.”

Adopted at the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit, Agenda 21 (named for the 21st Century)  “calls for ‘sustainable development’ and sustainable communities,” the column says. Nowhere in the column does Anderson note that the resolution is non-binding, voluntarily implemented action plan.

Instead, he treats it like law and then hypothesizes about its implications, saying Agenda 21:

. . .gives the government power to assess and deem an area, an item, or a type of production as unsustainable, thus putting it under increased government control.

This is a multi-faceted and dangerous program that could apply to all means of production — including land, water and animals, among other factors. Not only is this a direct violation of our freedoms as Americans, but it is an international overreach into our personal lives.

He says his legislation “would protect hardworking New Mexicans from falling subject to an overzealous international government bureaucracy looking to grab more control.”

Really? An overzealous international government bureaucracy is looking to grab control?

He continues by saying Agenda 21 is “the antithesis of what our forefathers fought for,” (and) that it “infringes on our personal liberties and will no doubt tie the hands of hardworking Americans. With increased government control, we head down a slippery slope and lose control of our homes, communities and our livelihoods.” He adds that all this is “frightening and infuriating.”

The most specific he gets about any of the resolution’s principles is in this paragraph, where he takes a leap and says the resolution’s eye toward eradicating poverty – a laudable goal, some might think – is actually “problematic with the role that redistribution of wealth will take.” His words:

According to the United Nations, one of the principles of Agenda 21 is “that eradicating poverty and reducing disparities in worldwide standards of living are ‘indispensable’ for sustainable development.” This is a direct call for redistribution of wealth — not only nationwide, but on an international scale.

The claims that Agenda 21 takes us from fighting poverty to redistributing wealth, or that trying to conserve resources and open spaces is a plot to take away our way of life, have been around ever since the resolution was passed. But as the New York Times has noted, the protests those claims have spawned have “gained momentum in the past two years because of the emergence of the Tea Party movement, harnessing its suspicion about government power and belief that man-made global warming is a hoax.”

Anderson continues that meme, saying;

There is no question that this is an attack on the middle class of America — which under Agenda 21′s principles would cease to exist. Property rights are not protected, and this could jeopardize our farms, our energy production and even our homes.

Last August, the Republican Party made opposition to Agenda 21 part of its official platform.

Then, two months ago, in the wake of election losses, “grass-roots leaders” of the Tea Party said they would turn their focus toward things like fighting the UN resolution, according to the New York Times article, “Clout Diminished, Tea Party Turns to Narrower Issues. ”

Much of the credit for keeping this fight alive can be given to the John Birch Society (“Less government, more responsibility, and — with God’s help — a better world”). Using its deep pockets (the billionaire climate-denying Koch brothers are supporters; their father Fred was a founder), “JBS” is spreading the message that:

Agenda 21 seeks for the government to curtail your freedom to travel as you please, own a gas-powered car, live in suburbs or rural areas, and raise a family. Furthermore, it would eliminate your private property rights through eminent domain.

Last year, the Tennessee legislature passed an anti-Agenda 21 bill using language almost identical to that provided by the John Birch Society, which continues to urge its members to get their legislators to introduce bills like Anderson’s. JBS also sells pamphlets and booklets in bulk to spread the word about Agenda 21’s alleged evils.

Meanwhile, the American Policy Center, a “property rights and sovereignty” group, has jumped on the bandwagon, seeing fear of Agenda 21 as a way to rack up donations, despite its seeming duplication of the Birch Society’s efforts.

APC President Tom DeWeese, in his “Stop Agenda 21” letter, says APC needs $500,000 to serve as an “atom bomb in our war against Agenda 21.” The money will be used, in part, he says, to finance a conference at which legislators, county commissioners and city councilors will be taught how to “create language for legislation to effectively stop Sustainable Development programs.”

APC would also use the money to “produce a special booklet detailing Agenda 21 and its threat” that will be “specifically designed for elected officials and will be sent to every member of Congress, every state’s Governor, every member of the 50 state legislatures, and every city councilman and county commissioner in the nation.”

Anti-Agenda 21 efforts have already born fruit, as is evidenced in both Anderson’s bill and in his column, where he notes that:

We are not the only state with these concerns. Alabama, Virginia and Missouri’s state legislatures have passed similar legislation, and it has been introduced in several other states.

What’s interesting is that in his letter, APC’s DeWeese tells potential donors that groups like his who are against Agenda 21 are “vastly outgunned by the Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are . . . flooding state capitals with lobbyists, money, and a flood of issue documents. They are rich, powerful and well organized.”

Funny thing is, do a Google search on Agenda 21 and, once you get past Wikipedia’s entry on the UN Resolution itself, the entire page of listings is attacks against Agenda 21. Such raging is currently all the rage with the anti-sustainability, global-warming-is-a-hoax crowd, including the  John Birch Society which, while continuing to ask for donations, seems pretty well financed.

On top of all that, Glenn Beck has attached his name to a book entitled Agenda 21, described as a “thriller” about a “republic” in which “there is no president. No Congress. No freedom.”

I say “attached his name” because, according to the woman who edited an early draft of the book, Agenda 21 was actually written by Harriet Parke, whose name is also on the cover, and Beck purchased the rights to say it was written by him.

In her Salon.com article, “I got duped by Glenn Beck!”, editor Sarah Cypher writes:

I would be proud to have my name in the acknowledgments of Ms. Parke’s novel. But given that it is printed inside a book bearing Glenn Beck’s name, the work I did is now deeply at odds with who I am as an editor. . . . Yes, the story is the same. So are the concepts, the characters and the writing. But the name in the byline — that changes the book’s intent. It changes everything.

Her explanation of that, which is worth reading in its entirety, also offers insight into the UN Resolution itself:

It lays out non-binding guidelines for promoting economic growth, environmental protection and social equality. Basically, it is a recipe for living within our means today, so that we do not pass along to our children a degraded economy, environment and society.

She links to the Media Matters post from 2011 that called out Beck for promoting a conspiracy theory about Agenda 21 as a means of instituting “centralized control over all of human life on planet Earth” — which is also promoted by conspiracist Alex Jones. In reality, Media Matters pointed out, . . . Agenda 21 is “not a binding treaty” and instead “set[s] out a common vision.”

Cypher adds:

. . .when removed from all sensible context and cast forward into a dystopian future, Agenda 21 becomes the novel “Agenda 21,” which tells the story of a post-American settlement where people are forced to ride bikes and walk on treadmills to generate electricity, told whom to marry, raised in communal kibbutz-like nurseries, and forced to swear allegiance to a scary green one-world socialist entity.. . .

If the book had been published under Ms. Parke’s name alone, it would remain an entertaining dystopian novel. The writing is capable, the story compelling, and most of its values are to be respected — family, localness, and a good education in history (Beck, and his publishing house, ought to take note of that, by the way). It would be marketed and sold to readers of speculative fiction, which are typically a brainy crowd. . . .

. . .by buying the right to call himself its author, Glenn Beck is diminishing a work of fiction to nothing more than a cheap appeal directed at people who will believe anything.

Count among the believers Rep. Tom Anderson, who’s bought into the Bircher line enough to introduce a bill.

Sunday’s column was Anderson’s public pitch for support of that bill, which could be characterized as misguided, time-wasting legislation based on fear.

Then, as it does with so many columns, the Journal ran that pitch without any vetting or editing or background on the UN Resolution itself – ran it “as is.”

Readers deserve better.

 

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