The Far Right’s Newest Boogeyman: Environmentalism

Back in July, we wrote about the then-upcoming 9th Annual Freedom21 National Conference where a bevy of second, third, and fourth string right-wing activists were gathering to blow the top off the nefarious plot behind the idea of sustainable development.

Now, the SPLC has published an account of the gathering … and it was apparently every bit as unhinged as one would expect:

"Environment is not about saving nature," the founder of Freedom Advocates, Michael Shaw, sternly warned an audience of antigovernment "Patriots" and far-right conspiracy theorists during a mid-July conference. "It's about a revolutionary coup in America. [Environmentalism] is to establish global governance and abandon the principles of Natural Law." Sustainable development policies, Shaw argued, will require "a police state" and ultimately "turn America into a globally governed homeland where humans are treated as biological resources."

Shaw's fearful call to arms against environmentalism was sucked in whole hog during the Ninth Annual Freedom 21 conference held in a Dallas-area Crowne Plaza hotel. Co-hosted by the Texas Eagle Forum, a hard-line Christian Right organization, and the anti-"New World Order" American Policy Center (APC), the three-day convergence included such right-wing heavyweights as the error-prone conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, gay- and feminist-hating Phyllis Schlafly, and the far-right Constitution Party's presidential candidate, Chuck Baldwin.

One former popular Freedom 21er was disinvited. Bob Barr, a former conservative Republican congressman from Georgia, was asked not to return by the head of APC, Tom DeWeese, because Barr had talked to Al Gore about global warming. "This is not some nice little debate," DeWeese said he told someone in Barr's office. "This is war."

The SPLC recounts that while Phyllis Schlafly was content to deliver her anti-judges stump speech, the other speakers were committed to exposing how instituting sustainable development policies was the ultimate goal of those shadowy one-world government figures who are behind the (non-existent) efforts to create a so-called North American Union so that they can institute a new worldwide false religion based on “earth worship”:

Michael Coffman, executive director of the United Nations-hating Sovereignty International, took on something called Agenda 21, which was drawn up in 1992 for the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. Agenda 21 is a comprehensive blueprint of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the UN, governments, and major groups in every area in which humans impact on the environment (21 refers to the 21st century). In Coffman's eyes, Agenda 21 is a menace.

"An anti-human document, which takes aim at Western culture, and the Judeo-Christian and Islamic religions," is how Coffman referred to it. Coffman also alleged that Agenda 21 would lead to a kind of communist reallocation of property rights and redistribution of assets. Using a big word, Coffman labeled the proposed changes "usufructual," which he said means the government would own everything. Michael Chapman of Ed Watch, a group that opposes public education, reiterated Coffman's allegations that Agenda 21's real aim is to redistribute wealth. Coffman added that economic development is not being restricted in order to protect the environment, but rather to give power to the government.

"The new world theology is pantheism," Coffman said, "Nature is God."

The John Birch Society (JBS), a group that once insisted that President Eisenhower was a Communist Party member but now focuses on immigrant-bashing, agrees with Coffman. JBS was on hand to warn that environmentalists are really out to get your children. The JBS handed out cards featuring a strange depiction of a group of children holding hands under a large, glowing, balloon-like mockup of the earth that warned of "The New False Religion, Worshipping the Earth." "Advocates of a UN world government have drafted an Earth Charter, which they compare to the Ten Commandments and keep in an 'Ark of Hope,'" warns the JBS without any apparent reference to reality. "Will you let the United Nations or any other group undermine the faith of your family?" The JBS is so concerned with this that is has created a new website, www.getusout.org/earthworship, to battle "Earth Worship."

It should be noted that Rep. Michelle Bachmann was initially listed as scheduled to appear, but the SPLC article makes no mention of her being in attendance, nor does the official conference webpage.