This article originally appeared on the Southern Poverty Law Center's blog Hatewatch
With chronic budget shortfalls, dangerously overcrowded prisons and the nation’s biggest municipal bankruptcy filing, we here in Alabama have a lot on our minds.
But at least we can cross one worry off the list: Our property cannot be confiscated by the United Nations or any of its myriad stealth agents in the name of “sustainability,” “smart growth” or “environmentalism.”
For that, we can thank our hard-working state legislators, who in mid-May voted unanimously – yes, they did – in favor of a bill barring the enactment of any policy recommendations traceable to the U.N.’s Agenda 21 that infringe on property rights, at least without “due process.”
That’s right. Thanks to the legislation sponsored by GOP state Sen. Gerald Dial, Alabama farmers who have been planting less produce this spring due to labor shortages caused by the state’s draconian anti-immigration law (the latest version of which includes a “scarlet letter” provision requiring the state “to post a quarterly list of the names of any undocumented alien who appears in court for a violation of state law, regardless of whether they were convicted”) can feel confident their fallow fields won’t be taken over by agents of the “New World Order.” Families can enjoy the benefits of the newly shortened school year (enacted this spring over a gubernatorial veto by state legislators who claimed longer summer breaks will encourage tourism and generate revenue), secure in the knowledge that they will not return from their vacations to discover their property has been seized by blue-helmeted troops.
And while banks will still be allowed to foreclose on and evict folks for failing to repay their loans, at least our land will be safe from the clutches of the so-called “environmentalists” whose true goal is to deliver Americans into the hands of a global government run by shadowy, unelected elites who will move us around like chess pieces and control every aspect of our lives.
In reality, Agenda 21 is a non-binding, completely voluntary plan for global sustainability signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1992 after the U.N.’s Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. But it’s seen by radical-right conspiracy theorists as a sort of Trojan horse for the New World Order.
As far as we know, there is zero evidence of anyone’s property in Alabama being taken away for any sort of sustainability effort or environmental initiative without due process.
The executive director of the Alabama Republican Party noted the passage of the so-called “Due Process for Property Rights Act” in a newsletter, stating that the law “is intended to shelter Alabamians from … a sustainable development initiative that some conservatives see as a precursor for the creation of a world government.”
Reached by phone, a spokesperson for Alabama GOP said she didn’t know enough about the bill to say if the party is worried about the creation of a world government or whether there is any evidence whatsoever that anyone is trying to move in that direction. Otherwise, it received practically no attention from the mainstream media.
The news didn’t slip through the cracks completely, however. On Monday, there appeared on the website of The New American a long article celebrating Alabama’s new law as a victory for “citizens who had been terrorized by Agenda 21-linked schemes targeting their private property.”
“[G]rassroots pressure paid off,” it said. “Alabama became the first state to be officially shielded by law from UN-linked anti-property rights scheming.”
The New American is published by the John Birch Society (JBS), a far-right organization best known for accusing President Dwight D. Eisenhower of being a secret communist and for opining that fluoridated water is a communist plot to poison America. For a short time in the early 1960s, it was an influential force in the Republican Party – until William F. Buckley Jr., the intellectual architect of postwar conservatism, led a campaign to “excommunicate” it from conservative circles, warning Republicans against “acquies[ing] quietly” to the JBS’ “false” “rendition of the causes of the decline of the Republic and the entire Western world.”
Buckley died in 2008, and the JBS has been making a steady comeback since. With the Cold War over, it has gotten creative: These days, it frets about door-to-door gun confiscations, FEMA concentration camps and martial law. It claims the Federal Reserve is a massive conspiracy and warns of plans to create a “North American Union” that will subvert U.S. interests and destroy the Constitution.
Since September, the JBS has sponsored a national lecture tour on the supposed dangers of Agenda 21. Using slideshows replete with images of Karl Marx and Alger Hiss, the accused communist spy who helped draft the U.N. Charter, JBS scare-mongers have fanned out across the country to warn locals of the evils of the U.N.’s sustainability initiative. Agenda 21, they claim, calls for “a profound reorientation of all human society, unlike anything the world has ever experienced.” According to the JBS, the ultimate purpose of this decades-old plan is nothing less than a new world order in which rural regions will be depopulated and foreign bureaucrats will mandate family size here in the United States, imposing forced abortions as they do in communist China.
Apparently, these threats were enough to spook the Republican National Committee, which in January passed a resolutionopposing Agenda 21, decrying the nonbinding measure as “a comprehensive plan of extreme environmentalism, social engineering, and global political control.” Counties in various states have adopted similar resolutions, as has the Tennessee House of Representatives. According to The New American, activists in New Hampshire are lobbying to pass anti-Agenda 21 legislation. Arizona’s state Senate this spring passed a bill similar to Alabama’s, but it died before the session ended.
Community sustainability efforts are coordinated through something known as ICLEI – the International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives. Under its auspices, more than 1,000 cities and municipalities around the world, including hundreds in the U.S., have received grants (or bribes, if you agree with the JBS version of the story) that will help implement local sustainability proposals.
News of the Alabama passage heartened anti-ICLEI activists across the nation. The headline on one Virginia blog, for example, reads: “VICTORY! ICLEI BAN PASSED ALABAMA LEGISLATURE! YEAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Read it and weep, globalists!”
The Alabama cities of Birmingham and Huntsville are both ICLEI members (though depending on how this law is interpreted, they may not be for long). As their residents gear up for another long, hot Deep South summer, they – and the rest of us Alabamians – can breathe a sigh of relief, safe in the knowledge that the communist menace of environmental protection has been beaten back from our doors.