Intelligence Report

Republican National Committee Calls Agenda 21 a Plan for Global Control

Is Agenda 21, a United Nations non-binding plan for global sustainability signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1992, a “comprehensive plan” for “global political control”? Is it a “destructive and insidious” scheme being pushed “covertly” in U.S. towns that would entail “socialist/communist redistribution of wealth”?

Is Agenda 21, a United Nations non-binding plan for global sustainability signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1992, a “comprehensive plan” for “global political control”? Is it a “destructive and insidious” scheme being pushed “covertly” in U.S. towns that would entail “socialist/communist redistribution of wealth”?

The Republican National Committee says yes.

Is there “probable cause” to believe that President Obama’s long-form birth certificate is “a forgery,” that his Selective Service registration card is “highly suspect,” and that the National Archives is “mysteriously missing” a week of flight information about Hawaii in the very same week Obama was born? Did “the media” engage in a “cover-up” of a story that is “bigger than Watergate”?

Five-term sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., representing nearly 4 million people in the fourth largest county in the United States, is sure of it.

And is there a secret government plot to impose martial law, seize the population’s guns, use concentration camps on “former military bases” to imprison Americans, and make the country a “precursor to Nazi Germany?” Aren’t “patriots” doing the right thing to resist the administration’s “communism”?

First-term Washington state Rep. Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley), whose priority is “fighting for families,” thinks that’s precisely what’s going on.

These are just three recent examples of how utterly baseless conspiracy theories — ideas that originate in the fetid intellectual swamps of the radical right — have invaded the American political mainstream in ways that would have been almost unimaginable a few years ago. While the margins-to-the-mainstream phenomenon is hardly new, false and demonizing propaganda now is increasingly being endorsed by important leaders who certainly ought to know better.

Scattered throughout this issue, and especially in our cover story on 30 of today’s notable radical-right leaders, is evidence of much more of this kind of thing. Religious leaders who have advised presidential candidates and say the separation of church and state is a myth. Once-respectable news executives insisting Obama is really a Kenyan. A Yale Law School grad suggesting to his followers that the United States is heading for martial law. Religious-right leaders asserting that gay men were essentially responsible for the Nazi Holocaust. So-called media watchdogs who claim there’s a secret plot to merge Mexico, the United States and Canada.

The sickness has infected our political system, from some of the claims made on the campaign trail to what looks like a wholesale invasion of many of our state legislatures, where no wild-eyed idea or theory seems too far out to consider.

As usual, Arizona, which kicked off the recent spate of punishing anti-immigrant laws around the nation with 2010’s S.B. 1070, is a leader in this dubious contest. In recent months, it considered a law that would require federal law enforcement agents to get permission from a local sheriff before undertaking any official action — a concept of sheriff as top law enforcement officer that began with the violent and anti-Semitic Posse Comitatus of the 1970s and 1980s. Lawmakers in the Grand Canyon State also proposed creating an armed volunteer task force to patrol the border for crime, with participants immunized like sworn officers for any acts while on duty. Fourteen of the state’s 15 sheriffs oppose the measure.

Some 13 states, beginning last year with Oklahoma, have seen bills introduced that seek to prevent the use of Shariah, or Islamic religious law, in American courts. The measures are completely useless and unnecessary under the Constitution. Most of the proposals originated with David Yerushalmi, an extremist Islamophobe.

In Missouri, legislation was introduced that would require candidates for vice president and president to prove their citizenship — a measure that opponents called racist but proponents said had nothing at all to do with our first black president.

And in New Hampshire, a legislator got the state House of Representatives to pass a bill requiring doctors to tell women that abortion causes breast cancer – a claim for which there is zero evidence. That was only one of a spate of proposals designed to make abortions more difficult, or at least more humiliating, to obtain. Although some were quickly shot down, several sought to force women to undergo vaginal probes in order to show them pictures of their developing fetuses.

These kinds of proposals, laced with misinformation and aimed at particular groups of Americans, do more than merely inject a kind of Alice in Wonderland quality into what ought to be our serious collective deliberations. Washington state lawmaker Matt Shea’s claims about government plots and all the rest come direct from the ideologues of the rapidly swelling antigovernment “Patriot” movement.

While there are doubtless many reasons to criticize government, allegations of secret concentration camps, mass gun seizures, martial law and Nazi-like plans are not among them. That kind of fear-mongering does nothing so much as make it nearly impossible to deal with the very real problems that face our country.