Things at GOP headquarters are even more crazytown than we could have imagined.
The Republican National Committee — the group that shapes the national GOP political platform, devises campaign strategies, promotes candidates, and bashes all things Obama — passed a resolution in January warning Americans of a sinister plot hidden in a United Nations report called Agenda 21. Short of suggesting that we all wear tinfoil hats and keep an eye out for contrails, the RNC would have been hard-pressed to put itself further on the wacko fringe.
Here’s the windup to the resolution, unearthed by the New York Times on Feb. 3:
WHEREAS, the United Nations Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of extreme environmentalism, social engineering, and global political control … and,
WHEREAS, the United Nations Agenda 21 is being covertly pushed into local communities throughout the United States of America through the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) through local “sustainable development” policies such as Smart Growth, Wildlands Project, Resilient Cities, Regional Visioning Projects, and other “Green” or “Alternative” projects; and,
WHEREAS, this United Nations Agenda 21 plan of radical so-called “sustainable development” views the American way of life of private property ownership, single family homes, private car ownership and individual travel choices, and privately owned farms; all as destructive to the environment …
What’s that? The America way of life is destructive to the environment? Banish the thought.
After a few more whereases, the committee gets down to the business of “exposing … the dangerous intent of the plan,” resolving to send a copy of this gem (you can download the whole thing from the RNC website) to every Republican candidate and elected official in the country, and pushing for the resolution to be adopted into the official Republican Party Platform at the national convention in Tampa, Fla., in August.
But here’s the thing: Agenda 21 has been around for TWO DECADES, and, as the RNC resolution points out, “the U.S. government and no state or local government is legally bound by [it].” The agenda, which grew out of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, is a call for international cooperation to address poverty, hunger, and a host of other issues tied to the unraveling of natural ecosystems. It calls for “the broadest public participation and the active involvement of the non-governmental organizations.” (You can read the entire report here.)
And what about ICLEI, the U.N.’s alleged agent of destruction? (Those in-the-know pronounce it “ick-lee.”) The group offers services for a growing number of towns and cities that see measures such as energy conservation and mass transit as ways to save boatloads of public money and to attract businesses and economic development. More than 550 local governments in the U.S. have signed up for voluntary membership to date.
The RNC antics would be more amusing if Tea Party Republicans weren’t running the country right now — or at least doing their best to run it off the rails.
House Speaker John Boehner and the Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives announced plans at the beginning of the month to cut all designated funding for mass transit. This came just two days after the House transportation and infrastructure committee unveiled a draft transportation bill that would cut funding for bike and pedestrian infrastructure and the Safe Routes to School program.
The New York Times story reports that Tea Partiers are conjuring Agenda 21 in fights against everything from mass transit to energy-saving smart meters. “The real job of smart meters is to spy on you and control you — when you can and cannot use electrical appliances,” one Tea Partier told a crowd at a recent hearing in Roanoke, Va. Newt Gingrich stoked the furor when he referenced Agenda 21 in one of the Republican debates last month.
This isn’t brand new. Dan Maes, a Tea Party candidate for Colorado governor in 2010, claimed that a bike sharing program in Denver was a “well disguised” plot to turn the city into a “United Nations community.” In the San Francisco Bay area last spring, the black-helicopters crowd used the report to rally fanatical opposition to a regional planning effort. Conspiracy theorists in Florida even saw the New World Order lurking in a septic tank inspection law. (They’re in the plumbing!)
The fear mongering and paranoia seem to be on the rise. Here’s a smattering from around the country in recent months:
- On Virginia’s Middle Peninsula, planners called for police protection and hired consultants to calm crowds after anti Agenda 21 protesters shouted down public officials at meetings held to plan for climate-change-related sea-level rise.
- The police were called to a Missoula, Mont., city council hearing in December after an anti-ICLEI protest got out of hand. The Missoulian reported that some of the protesters had ties to the John Birch Society.
- At a city council meeting in San Carlos, Calif., two weeks ago, anti-ICLEI protesters called council members Nazis and fascists. Police were called after similar incidents at a planning meeting in Santa Rosa.
- County supervisors in Sutter County, Calif., rejected a resolution to apply for state funding to update their zoning code after Tea Party activists claimed that language in the grant application echoed Agenda 21. The county will still have to update its code, but will do so without state support.
- The Georgia state legislature has passed a resolution similar to the RNC resolution “exposing” Agenda 21, ICLEI, and the sustainable development threat. Meanwhile, a New Hampshire lawmaker has introduced legislation that would make it illegal for local governments to join ICLEI.
ICLEI deserves at least some of the blame for this. The group does, after all, have one of the crappiest acronyms in the business, guaranteed to set off alarms in backyard bomb shelters everywhere. And I’ll give the Tea Partiers this, too: Sustainability is a hard word to love.
But really, folks, it’s a threat to God, country, and apple pie? If the recent backlash to stripping transit funding out of the federal transportation bill is any indication, most Americans aren’t buying it — and the GOP would be wise to stick to a platform that has some basis in reality.