You might be surprised to learn that the effort to destroy private property rights in Roanoke County dates all the way back to a meeting in California’s woods in the spring of 1945.
That was one of the arguments made before the county Board of Supervisors Tuesday night.
It came from Ricardo Moreira, one of 10 Roanoke Tea Party speakers who demanded supervisors drop the county’s membership in the International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives, or ICLEI.
County taxpayers pay $1,200 each year to ICLEI, a group composed of local and regional governments from 70 countries whose stated goal is sustainable development.
The problem, the supervisors heard from Tea Party members, is that ICLEI is an outgrowth of the United Nations anti-global warming initiative known as Agenda 21.
ICLEI promotes things like community gardening, cluster-style housing and land trusts. And through ICLEI, the UN will one day require Roanoke countians to live in townhouses, all because of global warming, or something like that.
Even worse, Moreira told supervisors, the UN was created by the Bohemian Grove, a secretive club of influential and wealthy men.
Since 1893 that group has gathered for a few weeks each summer in pristine woods along the Russian River in Sonoma County, Calif. Some of them wear togas, and each year the Bohemian Grove’s big ceremony involves burning a large wooden owl on an altar.
Attendees have included former presidents, such as Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and some of this country’s richest and most prominent businessman, as well as some artists.
It all sounds kind of kooky. It’s like the annual Rainbow Gathering (which is held by hippies) for a bunch of rich old men. Except that the Bohemian Grove is invitation-only, and it takes extensive security precautions to keep its meetings private.
And that has made it a prime target of conspiracy theorists, who have ascribed all sort of nefarious plots to the Bohemians.
“The United Nations was created in Bohemian Grove. It’s a well-known fact,” Moreira told supervisors. Its members don’t care about the environment, or nature, or natural rights, he continued.
“They care about control,” Moreira added.
So there is the connection to Roanoke County’s comprehensive plan: The Bohemian Grove created the United Nations, which spawned Agenda 21, to which ICLEI has extensive ties. And Roanoke County planners have joined ICLEI. And it’s all about global warming.
After the meeting I spoke with Moreira, and asked him how he knew the UN was formed at Bohemian Grove.
He read it on the internet. It’s in the Bohemian Grove’s own documents, he said.
“Don’t believe me,” he added. “Read it for yourself.” Wednesday, he emailed me the document.
It turned out to be a 1994 Phd thesis, purportedly written by Peter Martin Phillips, a graduate student at the University of California, Davis.
On page 118, Phillips writes that the founding meetings of the United Nations were in San Francisco between April and June of 1945. During those 60 days, the Bohemian Grove held four receptions for the UN delegates.
That’s the proof: Four luncheons, noted in 150 words, in a 167-page thesis written 17 years ago. It’s right there on the internet for anyone to see.
In a larger sense, Moreira’s theory illustrates the big flaw with the Roanoke Tea Party’s recent fixation on ICLEI, and Agenda 21, and the United Nations.
Tiny shreds of intertwining fact suggest some elements may bear some relation to each other. And out of those, certain people with vivid imaginations have weaved a giant blanket of conspiracy about how global warming will lead to one-world government.
Tuesday, Heidi Beirich, research director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, told me Agenda 21 is the one of the hottest conspiracy theories presently being pushed by the far right.
In recent weeks a retired steelworker from Alabama named Don Casey (no relation) has going around western Virginia giving lectures on Agenda 21 to different Tea Party groups.
Chip Tarbutton, the leader of the Roanoke Tea Party, told me he was aware of the Roanoke County-ICLEI-global warming-Agenda 21-UN connection before Don Casey started doing his lectures here. I asked Tarbutton how he first learned about it.
“I read something about it on the internet, and then I did some research,” Tarbutton replied. “I read the primary stuff.”
That’s pretty much all you need to know: It’s on the internet.
Just like every other crackpot theory known to man.