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Agenda 21: When Common Sense Becomes Conspiracy
Jun 27, 2012
Do you recycle your milk jugs and compost your kitchen scraps? Do you support using conservation easements to protect wetlands, shelterbelts, and the ongoing productivity of South Dakota farmland?
If so, you're a Marxist dupe.
At least, that's what one might read in a resolution passed by the South Dakota Republican Party last weekend. Delegates to the state GOP convention raised their voices in fearful denunciation of the latest popular bogeyman of the far right, something called "Agenda 21," a secret Marxist plot by the United Nations.
Agenda 21 comes from the United Nations, but it's no secret. The UN posts it publicly on their Sustainable Development website. It comes from the 1992 Rio Conference. It's not a binding plan. It's not a roadmap for world conquest. It's just a bunch of reasonable people saying it would be nice if local, state, and national governments worked together to fight poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, and pollution.
South Dakota's GOP condemns this document as a "destructive and insidious" plan "covertly" pushing its "dangerous intent" in "local communities throughout South Dakota." Our Republican neighbors "hereby reject its destructive strategies for sustainable development."
Destructive policies... like increasing producers' access to global export markets. South Dakota farmers ought to like that.
Destructive policies... like stimulating savings and reducing deficits. South Dakota Tea Partiers ought to like that.
Destructive policies... like helping economies "grow and prosper while reducing the use of energy and materials and the production of harmful materials." South Dakotans with grandkids ought to like that.
Such paranoia bubbles around South Dakota. The Siouxland Republican Women have condemned the Sioux Falls Residential Guide to Sustainability as Agenda 21 plotting. My Black Hills neighbors Sam Kephart and Shad Olson think Agenda 21 will abolish private property and depopulate the planet. Steve Rosenberger ran for Lawrence County Commission this spring to fight the looming UN takeover of the Black Hills and "Delphi" mind control.
My Marxist UN overlords haven't sent me the memo on how to read minds, let alone control them. But here's what I hear in the heads of Republicans who turn such nutty conspiracy theories in formal party resolutions:
Those darn hippies are right: resources are finite. We need to use land and water and energy more responsibly. But we can’t bear to think that. Ah-ha! If we conflate "sustainable development" and the United Nations and Marxism, we can still kick the hippies in the shins and not feel guilty about driving really big cars really fast! Whoo-hoo! The evil of Agenda 21 trumps every argument!”
I'd rather sustain our resources and economic development with sensible policies than sustain a selfish, obsolete worldview with black-helicopter theories.
Cory Allen Heidelberger writes the Madville Times political blog. He grew up on the shores of Lake Herman. He studied math and history at SDSU and information systems at DSU, and is currently teaching French at Spearfish High School. A longtime country dweller, Cory is enjoying "urban" living with his family in Spearfish.