06/25/2012

Legislature’s Latest: Absurd Law Targets United Nations

With chronic budget shortfalls, dangerously overcrowded prisons and the nation’s biggest municipal bankruptcy filing, folks here in Alabama have a lot on our minds.

But at least we can cross one worry off the list: Thanks to a new and little-noticed state law, our property cannot be confiscated by the United Nations – not, at least, without due process.

On May 16, after just minutes of discussion, state legislators voted unanimously in favor of S.B. 477, a bill from Sen. Gerald Dial (R-Lineville), that bars the enactment of any policy recommendations traceable to Agenda 21, a voluntary plan for global sustainability signed in 1992 by President George H.W. Bush and the leaders of 177 other nations.

Yes, thanks to our hard-working legislators, farmers – who have reportedly been planting less produce this spring due to labor shortages caused by our draconian immigration enforcement law – can feel confident that their fallow fields won’t be seized by agents of a one-world government.

Families can enjoy the benefits of the newly shortened school year, secure in the knowledge that they will not return from their vacations to discover their property has been taken over by blue-helmeted UN thugs.

And while banks will still be allowed to foreclose on and evict people for failing to pay mortgages they can’t afford, at least folks’ land will be safe from the clutches of U.S.-hating global elites masquerading as “environmentalists.”

Of course, 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.

Agenda 21’s community sustainability efforts are coordinated through something known as ICLEI – the International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives. Huntsville, which joined in 2010, and Birmingham, which joined in 2011, are just two of hundreds of American cities whose membership in ICLEI makes them eligible for grants to help implement local sustainability proposals.

That’s local, as in proposed by the cities and ratified by their residents and their elected officials.

The main push against Agenda 21 has come from the John Birch Society (JBS) – remember those guys? – which since September has run a national lecture tour warning shrilly of the supposed evils of the U.N.’s sustainability initiative, which is completely nonbinding and can force no one to do anything. Agenda 21, the JBS insists, calls for “a profound reorientation of all human society, unlike anything the world has ever experienced.” The ultimate purpose of this 20-year-old plan, it says, is nothing less than a new world order in which rural regions will be depopulated and foreign bureaucrats will mandate family size in the U.S. and elsewhere, if necessary by imposing forced abortions.

The JBS is 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. It was an influential force in American politics for a short time in the early 1960s – 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 Birchers have been making a steady comeback since. In becoming the first state to pass this pointless JBS-inspired legislation, Alabama has strengthened the hand of a famously paranoid organization. Helping along have been the Republican National Committee, which in January passed a resolution condemning the “destructive and insidious” Agenda 21, and innumerable city councils, county commissions and other legislative bodies that have taken similar actions around the nation.

S.B. 477 isn’t just pointless; it’s actually stupid. If Birmingham and Huntsville are forced to withdraw from ICLEI, they will no longer be eligible to receive certain grants for sustainability programs. There’s not exactly a surfeit of dollars floating around those cities for programs of any kind, making this decision by state legislators to block local governments’ efforts to apply for such funding even more disturbing.

Our lawmakers, who according to Al.com reporter George Altman passed the bill practically without debate, should be ashamed of themselves. Alabama voters should let our representatives know that we’re paying attention to what they’re voting for – and that at the very least, we expect them to pay attention to what they’re voting for, too.

Leah Nelson is research fellow and Mark Potok is senior fellow and editor of the Intelligence Report at the Southern Poverty Law Center.