Over the past 40 years, the right wing has created a variety of conspiracy theories as proof that the federal government is out to get you. Many in the Tea Party believe that the Freemasons, beginning with our Founding Fathers, are intent on creating a New World Order which will take away our sovereignty. Under this scenario, black-shirted thugs will arrive in black helicopters to take away our guns and our freedom.
And that’s not the extent of right wing paranoia. Many also believe that the government blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City, intentionally set fire to the religious compound in Waco, and staged 9/11.
Following the election of the nation’s first president of African-American heritage, the conspiracy theories have gotten worse. More recent theories include the belief that Obama is a foreign-born Muslim who is the leader of al Qaeda, that the mass murders in the Aurora movie theater and the Sandy Hook Elementary School were staged by the government in order to take away our guns, that the Boston bombings were staged by Obama in order to create more surveillance so he can take away our sovereignty and our guns and that Homeland Security is buying up ammo to keep it out of the hands of individuals.
The conspiracy theory that seems to have gained the most traction surrounds Agenda 21, a non-binding plan which resulted from the UN Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992.
This well-intentioned plan sets goals for (gasp) combating poverty, promoting human health, promoting sustainable development, protecting the atmosphere, combating deforestation, managing fragile ecosystems, conserving biological diversity and much more. In other words, Agenda 21 hopes to preserve our environment so that our species, along with most others, will not become extinct.
Yet the Tea Party and other right wing theorists seem to believe that it will, somehow, compromise US sovereignty, despite the fact that Agenda 21 has no regulatory mechanisms; no punitive measures; and no enforcement. It merely proposes actions and sets goals.
Not to be deterred by the facts, Tea Party representatives have written their worst fears into law. In Arizona and elsewhere, the conspiracy theorists have passed legislation mandating that their states make it a crime to embrace Agenda 21 and its recommendations.
After all, who would want clean air, clean water, and a sustainable planet?