How John Birch Society Paranoia Killed An Alabama County's Growth Plan

Claiming fears of black helicopters and Agenda 21, the John Birch Society, Americans for Prosperity and other radical groups killed a reasonable growth plan.
How John Birch Society Paranoia Killed An Alabama County's Growth Plan

What do responsible leaders do when their county is the beneficiary of rapid growth and expansion? They work on a plan, so traffic doesn't kill commerce and urban sprawl doesn't kill the environment. Once they have a plan, they usually follow it in order to plan for an orderly expansion.

But in Alabama, that couldn't happen, because the John Birch Society and its cohorts like Americans for Prosperity blew in with tales of black helicopters and Agenda 21.

SPLC has a special report:

The battle was fought over several hours on Aug. 7, 2012, in a meeting room here, the small-town seat of the sprawling county, Alabama’s largest and one of its fastest-growing. The hostilities began that morning and by the time the verbal bullets had finally stopped flying that afternoon, the county’s award-winning, $285,000 comprehensive development plan, known as Horizon 2025, was dead.

The plan was killed by a 3-to-1 vote by the Baldwin County Commission, the four elected officials who oversee the county by the sea.

“This battle is more than just planning,” the county commission’s chairman, Robert James, said that day. “This is to protect the Constitution of the United States and what’s in it and, to me, even the Ten Commandments that God gave us.”

The plan was not the last casualty.

[...]

Baldwin County is just one example of the increasing and bitter attacks on Agenda 21 and local sustainable growth efforts from Maine to California. The fears Agenda 21 provokes plug directly into more than a century of far-right worries about any international body imposing any kind of control on the United States. The tactics used are as old as McCarthyism. In attacking the Baldwin County comprehensive plan, James, the county commission chairman, invoked the names of Hitler and Stalin, Mao and Mussolini, and how their “plans, guides, outlines” resulted in the deaths of millions of people.

Chances are, however, unless you belong to the John Birch Society, one of the Tea Parties or some other rightist collective, you have no idea that Agenda 21 is considered a grave threat to truth, justice and the American Way – and apparently to life in Baldwin County. Odds are also good that you, like most people – with bills to pay, kids to raise, conspiracy theories to ignore – have never read a word of the 22-year-old, 100-plus-page document or even heard of it.


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Anyone who thinks the John Birch Society is irrelevant today should go read this article about their stronghold in Oklahoma and the Clouds Over America conference held last weekend to give states the opportunity to strategize over nullification and states' rights. They are alive, well, and organizing right alongside Americans for Prosperity, Young Americans for Liberty, and FreedomWorks.

I will be talking to Claire Conner this morning on BlogtalkRadio at 9AM Pacific/Noon Eastern to get her thoughts on the JBS, CPAC, Rand Paul, and how the Radical Right is now the face of the Republican Party. Tune in to hear the voice of one who has walked right alongside these people and knows how dangerous they can be.

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