While seemingly outside of our wheelhouse, the issue of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities is so mind-boggling that I simply couldn’t let it go by without a comment. Treaty ratification requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate, and lo and behold, there were just enough teabagger votes to scuttle it. “Why?” you may ask. Because screw the UN, that’s why. Apparently U.N. treaties of any kind, having to do with anything, undermine American sovereignty. “Since when?” you may be wondering. Since shut up, that’s when. ‘Merica.
Actually, it’s practically since time immemorial, or at least, as my nana would say, “The 40s”. While Glenn Beck and Rick Santorum are the latest purveyors of this dreck, it’s not like they invented it. So let’s take a spin through yesteryears to talk about why teabaggers are just the youngest descendants of this royal lineage of conspiracy-addled arch-conservatives. Though this bogeyman really stretches as far back as the kerfuffle over the League of Nations, which the U.S. initiated and then didn’t join because of these same paranoiacs, let’s start with the actual formation of the U.N.:
End of World War II: America’s tired of world wars. Some people think working with other countries to usher in a more peaceful phase of capitalism might be a good idea. So we create the United Nations, NATO, Bretton Woods, and GATT. Angry economic protectionists and business nationalists lose their minds.
Screw You, H.G. Wells: He takes the term “New World Order”, which had been only generically used by various politicians to mean a great political sea change, and appropriated it to mean a technocratic state and planned world economy. Thanks, jerk. Now the tin foil hats have a name for their unnamed fears.
The Red Scare: Oh look, it’s the Christian Right, crawling into bed with the business community to take their fears to a bigger audience! To sell it better, they festoon the terror of a planned economy with Freemasons, the Illuminati, and Jews who are coming to force atheistic communism down our freedom-loving Christian throats! Liberals and progressives with our creepy welfare-state programs, international cooperation, and foreign aid, are going to consolidate the world into a repressive, global Communist regime. Because it’s easy to get 196 countries to sit down, shut up, and all follow the same rules. But it’s even easier to get one overzealous Senator named Joe McCarthy to destroy countless lives and careers on a witch hunt for Communists in the State Department… and everywhere else.
The John Birch Society: Emerging as a force in the 60s, the Birchers are all about “an originalist interpretation of the Constitution.,” the promotion of Christianity, and fighting Communism. (Does any of this sound familiar?) Also, they hate free trade agreements, and the U.N., because these things are apparently evidence of the shadowy conspiracy by international bankers (read, Jews) to create a “One World Government” controlled by tyrannical economic collectivists (read, Commies). Never mind that their dire predictions fail to come true. They’re playing the long game. American writer Mary M. Davidson talks in 1966 about the establishment of the U.S. Federal Reserve System in 1913 as the beginning of the New World Order Conspiracy. Vladimir Lenin was just getting his Marxist groove on in 1913, but right here in America, them dirty Reds apparently already had a foothold.
The New World Order: Sometime beginning in the early 70s, writer Gary Allen, among others, starts promoting anti-globalist themes with books like “None Dare Call it Conspiracy” and other delusional tomes decrying corporate internationalism and yes, of course, the United Nations. And so, when communism falls in the 1990s, rather than proving the conspiracy fears to be bogus, it leaves these freaked-out lemmings an easy route to pivot to the New World Order as the “true” threat – like the actual psycho killer who stabs the guy you were running from who you thought was the psycho killer. This conveniently feeds right into the Christian myth of the End Times. The NWO, the bar code, the mark of the beast, boogedy boo! Pat Robertson’s book about this becomes a raging success among Evangelicals. And, this being a “Christian nation”, it’s the beginning of their brain fever going mainstream.
President George H.W. Bush, the focus of a few conspiracy theories himself, doesn’t help this any by actually using the phrase “new world order” in a speech about the U.N’s Agenda 21, which he signs near the end of his term.
Agenda 21: A non-binding U.N. resolution on sustainability in the 1990s becomes fascism/communism/pick-your-flavor-of-totalitarianism-du-jour. Bike lanes are the work of the devil! Don’t voluntarily do anything environmentally sound or the evil U.N. and its cadre of blue helmets will come to your town to suck the soul out of America! We see cross-country speaking tours whipping up useless fears about this, featuring John Birchers, and yes, our girlfriend Phyllis Schlafly. Somehow environmentalism will also turn everyone into feminists, I guess.
The Tea Party: At last, here we are. Think it’s about taxes? Hogwash. It’s about Communism, and Jesus, and freedom! The Obama birth certificate nonsense is just the current incarnation of the same old paranoid fears of infiltration by the “other”, the scary outsider, the shadowy conspirator come to oppress us from within. How do you think this mob sprang up so fast? It was already there, waiting to be unleashed.
This has been going on for a long time. Who is the enemy? Sometimes Communists, sometimes the gubmint, Jews, bankers, internationalists, the U.N., the Illuminati, the Freemasons, Obama, death panels, FEMA and of course SATAN! The rise of the Internets has given these tin foil hats an impermeable echo chamber, wherein it suddenly seems reasonable that everyone should be armed to the teeth and have six months worth of food and water stored in their basements for the impending U.N. Zombiepocalypsemageddon. It doesn’t matter that the Supreme Court has ruled multiple times that U.N. resolutions can not under any circumstances supersede U.S. law. It doesn’t matter that the disability treaty contained nothing that we hadn’t already been doing since the Americans with Disabilities Act passed twenty years ago. Our senate botched an opportunity for global leadership, and the only reason why is because these terrified sheep have sent enough of their own to Congress to shoot it down. So we can’t ratify a treaty that says we support something that we already do because then the U.N. might invade our town and force everyone to get abortions, or something.
The medium might change, but the message really doesn’t. And as long as it keeps working, it never will. But can we please keep these people out of our government?