Agenda 21 conspiracy theories (easily debunked)
I do not know Sheriff Keith Royal personally. I have never had any reason or opportunity to engage him in a conversation. I am sure he is a good man and, from what I can tell, has done a good job keeping our county safe and secure.
So I was quite surprised to see him listed in The Union as giving a presentation Thursday evening on the most transparent and easily debunked conspiracy theory making the rounds today — “Agenda 21” — a theory of global “takeover” of American property and sovereignty. As I saw just later that same day, this presentation was being given under the auspices of the John Birch Society, a formerly virulently racist group that I wasn’t aware existed in our town.
I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, so perhaps Sheriff Royal was not aware of the history of the society nor of how widely discredited the “Agenda 21” conspiracy theory is. However, I would still be concerned that someone elected to keep our county safe would be so easily fooled into such a thing. So I would like to remind people what this is all really about with information that is very easy to obtain in this age of the Internet.
As someone who studied international politics, including the works of the United Nations and other multinational organizations in credible undergraduate and graduate schools, and someone who worked for a summer at the U.N., I can assure you that the U.N. is not an agent of global takeover. It has, in fact, helped save millions of children’s and women’s lives through its health programs (WHO), refugee assistance programs (UNHCR) and developing nations assistance programs (UNDP). It has also helped keep peace with its multinational peacekeeping force in some of the most horrendous conflicts we have had, keeping us as a sovereign nation from putting more U.S. soldiers on the ground in dozens of far-flung war-torn areas since 1948 (U.N. Peacekeeping). We all benefit from the good work of the United Nations.
Agenda 21 was a lovely document produced to help move the world toward more sustainable living, promoting smart growth and care for our surroundings. It has, like most U.N. documents, no teeth. And it respects national boundaries and sovereignty. I saw it as a rather pie-in-the-sky effort but forward thinking nonetheless.
I cannot fathom why a group of people would twist this document into an ugly conspiracy that supposedly hopes to cage people in cities to let wildlife roam free, and then rule those people in a global government. This is one of the most laughable conspiracies around today, except that it has been taken seriously by too many people, apparently most ferociously by the extreme right. The document is easily Googled and read, and you will find absolutely nothing to support such fear-mongering talk.
This would be funny if it were not actually influencing and frightening gullible people. Moreover, to have an elected official in charge of the security of our county condoning such nonsense is of concern. After all, isn’t this an official who requests money from the county and state for security purposes? I have always assumed in good faith this is to protect our rural county. Do I now need to wonder if he believes in this conspiratorial world takeover? And what does this mean as someone who has authority and weapons in my small community?
I suggest that people use their critical thinking skills and do their own research when it comes to conspiracy theories like these. And I would request that my elected officials be mindful of their position, and the responsibility that comes with it to serve the people and the truth, not crackpot theories of world domination.
Heidi Hall is a Grass Valley resident, a Congressional candidate for California’s Northern District 01, and a graduate of Columbia University with a masters degree in international relations.
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