This past summer I think about twelve people read my post Agenda 21: The United Nations Threat To Control Our Lightbulbs, Our Lifestyles and Our Lives, where I wrote about how historic preservation, formerly the preserve of conservative types, has morphed into socialist control of private property, a tool of Agenda 21. I called it a Tea Party Theory of Everything:
It ties it all together into one neat package, making climate change, light bulbs, transit, smart growth, fuel economy, everything a plot...It is a spreading conspiracy theory that is becoming the underlying ideology of the crazy right and that has serious legs. It is no joke.
In October, the State of Florida repealed a thirty year old growth management plan (Florida had growth management? who knew?), hailed as a victory against the Agenda 21 and United Nations domination. Tea Party activists are ecstatic:
The Florida Governor, Rick Scott, has just successfully repealed the statewide UN program of Growth Management! Can you believe it?...Clearly, these foreign governance programs can be repealed- it is now a proven fact- and clearly these foreign programs are detrimental to our way of life, economy, food supply, private property rights, individual rights, our State and US Constitutions, and our children’s futures.
It may not be time to panic. In some cases there are very few vocal activists leading the charge, but the Tea Party has been so well publicized, and their tactics are often so sophisticated, that their powers of intimidation appear outsized.
Robert Steuteville at the New Urban Network does a good job on the subject, noting the lack of understanding of the issue.
Anti-smart growth ideologues have never shied away from half-truths and dubious arguments, but recent references to Agenda 21, Portland, Detroit, and Denver are unusually strange....According to my unscientific estimate, 99.9 percent of smart growth advocates don't even know what Agenda 21 is. The only reason why they may have heard of it at all is due conspiracy theories from the fringe of the Tea Party.
Mother Jones did a good job of covering the story back in March, in "We Don't Need None of That Smart-Growth Communism"
Agenda 21 paranoia has swept the tea party scene, driving activists around the country to delve into the minutiae of local governance. And now that the midterm elections are over, they're descending on planning meetings and transit debates, wielding PowerPoints about Agenda 21, and generally freaking out low-level bureaucrats with accusations about their roles in a supposed international conspiracy.
And if the smart growth activists and planners are missing the boat on this issue, the heritage preservationists are ignoring it completely. It is right there, in the list of Agenda 21 evils:
Smart Growth, Wildlands Project, Resilient Cities, Regional Visioning Projects, STAR Sustainable Communities, Green jobs, Green Building Codes, "Going Green," Alternative Energy, Local Visioning, facilitators, regional planning, historic preservation, conservation easements, development rights, sustainable farming, comprehensive planning, growth management.
Almost every battle over historic preservation is now becoming a property rights battle, and almost every property rights battle now has an Agenda 21 tint to it. We really have to wake up to this threat.