Editor's Note: This column was authored by Justice Gilpin-Green
Individual rights must take a backseat to community interests. Sound familiar? That’s probably because it’s been the ideology that American presidents have been agreeing to since 1992.
Enter Agenda 21, the 40 chapter document from the United Nations that establishes environmental “principles” at local, national, regional, and international levels-and the object of Ayn Rand’s nightmare.
Defined these days as “sustainable development,” Agenda 21 seeks to transform humanity with “new global ethics.” At the most basic level, beyond the soft words like “sustainability” and “eco-friendly environments”, Agenda 21 takes away private property ownership, single-family homes, private car ownership, individual travel choices, and privately owned farms. These socialist ethics, as described by Mikhail Gorbachev at the UN Rio Conference in 1995, mean that “we should restrict and limit our consumption and also reassess our way of life, we should be more modest.”
“Land…cannot be treated as an ordinary asset, controlled by individuals and subject to the pressures and inefficiencies of the market,” Agenda 21 says. “Private land ownership is also a principal instrument of accumulation and concentration of wealth and therefore contributes to social injustice; if unchecked, it may become a major obstacle in the planning and implementation of development schemes. The provision of decent dwellings and healthy conditions for the people can only be achieved if land is used in the interest of the society as a whole.”
Don’t worry, you measly little humans. You and your property rights no longer have to go “unchecked”! Luckily, the UN has created the Commission on Sustainable Development to check up on everyone annually!
Unluckily for the UN, some states in the U.S. aren’t taking this without a fight.
In Alabama, Senate Bill 477 was recently passed unanimously in both houses, barring the state from taking over private property without due process, thereby preventing Agenda 21 from infiltrating their state lines. It reads, “[t]he State of Alabama and all political subdivisions may not adopt or implement policy recommendations that deliberately or inadvertently infringe or restrict private property rights without due process, as may be required by policy recommendations originating in, or traceable to ‘Agenda 21,’”. It seems that Agenda 21 does actually bring people together in communities- just not in the way the U.N. had hoped for.
However, there was one problem with the passage of this bill: Governor Robert Bentley took days to sign it, reflecting a hesitance to fight this policy. Why would a Republican governor consider rejecting a bill that has drawn overwhelming support from the RNC, State Legislature, AND the citizens of his state? It took hundreds of phone calls (so many that his office began complaining about lines being tied up), before the bill was said to be signed.
“Someone had to have threatened the governor with loss of all federal funding,” Ben Crawford, member of the State Executive Committee of the Alabama Republican Party, said in a phone interview with Townhall. “States that get on the wrong side of Agenda 21 will lose federal funding.”
Ken Freeman, chairman of Alliance for Civil Rights (ACR), a group that focuses on and combats legislative threats to Alabama’s constitution, also recognized the relationship between federal funding and the governor’s delayed decision.
“Every time you take a dollar of federal money, there’s strings attached,” Freeman said in a phone interview with Townhall. “We were originally walking soft on this issue, to tell you the truth, because when things were going our way, why change anything?” After winning unanimous support from both houses for the bill, Freeman never dreamed that he would have to work harder for the governor’s support as well. However, after a conversation with an insider at the governor’s office revealed that Bentley’s delay was because of his legal team’s fears of loss of federal funding for the state, Freeman could no longer continue “walking soft on the issue.” Barely sleeping, he typed out long emails and newsletters to citizens, warning them of the potential for a pocket veto and imploring them to voice their opinions to the governor.
Ultimately, Freeman’s hard work led to public outcry and the governor signed the bill. This made Alabama the first state to officially be protected from Agenda 21. Although Alabamians have witnessed a happy ending with safe property rights, the fear remains for other states that may have weaker politicians and less-informed citizens.
Starting with President George H. W. Bush, the first president to enact ‘sustainable development’, Republicans have been slow to label Sustainable Development as a real threat. Although this could simply be due to ignorance of the underlying message behind the flowery phrases and broad goals in Agenda 21, some say that money dominates the battle for our freedoms. With Alabama as an example, it appears to be easy to ignore how socialist this Mother Nature appears to be when the big bad government is threatening to take away your allowance.
That is, until you wake up and half of your yard is no longer your own. That crazy, conspiracy theory-sounding idea almost became a reality for Alabama-native, Rose Shannon, when the National Forest Service attempted to rezone some of the residential land on her 452 acres, making it state property. Shannon, the Executive Director of Citizens for Protecting Constitutional Rights, fought the restrictions, followed it to Washington, and won her case.
“They could rezone my property however they wanted (if Agenda 21 took over Alabama),” Shannon said, in a phone interview with Townhall. “They could zone my property as residential or commercial, they could make the same land worth more or less…There are so many different scenarios.”
Funnily enough, the U.S.S.R. Constitution did that too. Chapter 2, which promulgates the importance of common property to improve “purity of air and water”, “plant and animal kingdoms”, and “improve the human environment”, is ironically entitled “The Economic System.” Even the Soviets openly admitted that their “environmental concerns” were purely means to an end of state wealth after taking over private land.
If you, like the UN, haven’t picked up a history book lately, don’t let me spoil that ending.
Hopefully other states can mirror Alabama’s determined nature in passing their Anti- Agenda 21 legislation. It was citizen awareness and direct action that finally brought about the needed changes last week and that same awareness and action will be needed for the future of every other state. After all, in the words of Ayn Rand, “The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction you give it.”
Justice Gilpin-Green is a Townhall Editorial Intern