In the 1910s, the discovery of zinc, lead, and iron ore turned Treece, Kans., from a desolate outpost into a mining boomtown. The population went from a few dozen to more than 20,000, and billions of dollars worth of iron ore were produced, much of it during the two World Wars.
But when the mines were exhausted, so were the jobs, and the town then lost the restaurants, clothiers, grocers, hardware stores, car lots, furniture dealers, barber shops, and construction companies whose existence had been made possible by the mining income.
All that was left to indicate the town’s mining past were rusting signs and unsightly chat piles. But the few persons who remained had to deal with more than the loss of jobs, stores, and friends. The lead pollution made it an unsafe place to live, so the EPA offered buyouts to the residents, with plans to clean up the soil once the town was emptied. Of the 80 residents who were offered payments to leave, all but two accepted. The UK’s Daily Mail profiled the pair of holdouts as part of a backdrop on an article that detailed Treece’s rise, collapse, and poisoning.
There was no fooling reader John, who fumed, “Utter bull. This is Agenda 21 in action. Using taxpayers’ money to clear people out of an area and into bigger population centers. It’s all in the UN documents.”
He got that last part right. Most conspiracy theories center on something being kept secret: Area 51, 9/11 being an inside job, a hidden cancer cure. But some theories, like the one centering on Agenda 21, takes publicly available information and misinterprets or distorts it.
Agenda 21 grew out of an international UN conference in 1992. It is related to sustainable development and is a non-binding suggestion to local, regional, and federal governments. It aims to combat poverty, achieve a more sustainable population, protect the environment, and strengthen the underprivileged. Its implementation has been hampered because of a misinformed opposition.
Opposition can include reader John, or others more prominent, such as Colorado gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes, who described a proposed bike-sharing program as an “attempt to turn Denver into a United Nations community.” Meanwhile, the Republican Party platform opposes Agenda 21 as a violation of U.S. sovereignty, and some states have prohibited government participation in it.
Most of this fear has been sown by Glenn Beck, who offers such phrases such as, “They will put their fangs into our communities and suck all the blood out of it, we will not be able to survive.”
Beck wrote a novel about the country being completely enveloped by Agenda 21, and one line reads, “Once-proud people of America have become obedient residents who live in barren, brutal Compounds and serve the autocratic, merciless Authorities.” While that sentence is from a work of fiction, it is indistinguishable from the language Beck and other opponents used to portray what they call a future reality. I relish dystopian novels like 1984 and Darkness at Noon, and it’s a shame Beck wasted a potentially fine example of such in order to tilt at UN windmills and stoke fears of an imaginary enemy.
Beck says code words bely the danger. Sure, some are phrases conservatives are already averse to: wetlands, climate change, social justice. But also we wary of “local,” “vision,” “high speed rail,” “economy,” “restoration,” and “consensus.” The list of more than 100 words that will lead to our eventual displacement and internment are here.
So “safe school route” is to be properly read as “forced resettlement behind barbed wire.” Once persons are concentrated and restricted to overcrowded barracks, they will be dressed in mandatory uniforms, while the government suspends the Constitution and asserts ownership of all natural resources.
The John Birch Society warns that Agenda 21 “seeks to curtail your freedom to travel, own a gas-powered car, live in suburbs or rural areas, and raise a family.” Trying desperately to match the society for hyperbole, Beck offers that “sustainable development is just a really nice way of saying centralized control over all human life on Earth.”
In actuality, Agenda 21 is merely a suggestion that local planning and zoning boards consider environmental impact when doing expansion or renovation. Most of these mid-level bureaucrats had never heard of Agenda 21 until they were descended on by Beck minions, who accused them of stamping out civil liberties and plotting a roundup of the masses.
Unlike most conspiracy theories, the adherents of this one are able to influence government action, or more accurately, the lack thereof. A proposal to increase development and reduce traffic around a Maine highway was interpreted thusly by the theorists in a Tea Party alert: “This is the hard core agenda 21. This is the centralized planning for the de-industrialization of large segments of Maine, and the relocation and isolation of the population into human habitation zones.”
Stacy Benjamin, Maine’s Department of Transportation project manager, said she had never heard of Agenda 21 or its human habitation zones until a handful of believers showed up during a public comment session and succeeded in getting the project shuttled.
Then in La Plata County, Colo., a 17-member group was tasked to “to rein in sprawl, encourage bicycling and public transportation, protect agriculture and promote sustainability.” For theorists, this was not a local solution to land use issues, but was instead a dictate from NWO headquarters to invade and conquer. The proposal was voted down.
Meanwhile in Tampa, Agenda 21 opponents engineered the defeat of a measure to fund light rail and road improvements. The Tampa Bay Examiner suggested this proposal was a “cover for an agenda to transfer American sovereignty to various tentacles of the United Nations.”
In these cases, the proposed changes are not being debated on their merits. Opponents of sustainable growth are able to succeed without making logical, deductive arguments against sustainable growth. Even if the proposal makes sense for the community, this is overriden by the warnings of it being ordered by international subjagators.
In Wyoming, the Constitution Party candidate for Laramie County Commission, Frank Smith, learned of Agenda 21 through his membership in the John Birch Society. He wasn’t too concerned until his hometown was visited by the horror of smart meters.
“New appliances have smart chips in them, and these meters can be shut off at the headquarters,” Smith said in an interview with the Wyoming News. “It also allows people to monitor your electric usage minute by minute. It’s another way of controlling things and giving them the ability to spy on you.”
Suddenly, Smith saw what was going on. “You’ve got the EPA and HUD coming into communities to do public projects. The idea is to throttle transportation, narrow the streets, and get people out of their personal vehicles into mass transit. “
Today, choosing to get on the bus. Tomorrow, forced by bayonet into a cattle car.