Anti-UN Fervor Subsided in
Oklahoma’s 2014 Legislature
Most Representatives Got the Message: Voters Aren’t
Impressed by Goofy Attacks on the United Nations
The 2014 session of the Oklahoma Legislature ended a couple of weeks ago. We’re happy to report that no crazy new anti-UN bills came forward to be debated or voted upon.
Following the 2013 session — in which 4 anti-UN bills were introduced — the (almost complete) absence of nutty state legislation in 2014 was a welcome development.
Actually, there was a little bit of anti-UN sentiment boiling at the State Capitol. That was evident in some of the talking points we heard during the session. Certain speakers and commentators were willing to use “UN Agenda 21” as a reference point in a couple of debates. But, the craziness was more subdued this year. For example, it didn’t manifest itself in any new efforts to suppress UN-related research or reports, etc.
Only one new legislative measure was based on the premise of fighting the supposed menace of UN Agenda 21. House Resolution 1033 was introduced by Rep. Gus Blackwell. We wrote about it in March of this year. (See the article, “Don’t Say Sustainability“).
HR 1033 died a quiet death when the Legislative session came to an end on May 23rd. It didn’t receive a hearing in committee. It was never debated or voted on. It simply went nowhere. Evidently, the leaders of the House of Representatives realized that HR 1033 was a screwy idea that didn’t deserve the slightest bit of attention. Calls from our members and friends probably helped, as well.
Another item — House Bill 2807 — was touted by some Tea Party supporters as a measure to “nullify” Agenda 21 in Oklahoma. But, sometimes the Tea Partiers see connections that aren’t really there. When we reviewed the bill early in the session, we saw that HB 2807 doesn’t explicitly mention the United Nations or Agenda 21. We concluded that the bill was really about land-use (zoning) laws and laws regarding eminent domain. We recognized that these topics are beyond the scope of interest of our association. So, we didn’t take a position on the bill, and we didn’t ask our members to take any action on it, either.
|Some Tea Party supporters attempted to
define House Bill 2807 as an anti-UN
measure. They said it would “nullify”
UN Agenda 21. But, Agenda 21 has
nothing to do with the subjects covered
by HB 2807.
(A good summary of House Bill 2807 appears on the NewsOK.com website. Ultimately, the bill drew opposition from certain mayors and municipal government officials. At the end of the session, the measure had gained approval in the State House of Representatives, but it didn’t come up for a floor vote in the State Senate).
All session long, there was a popular uprising against the Common Core educational standards of the National Governor’s Association. The Common Core drama came to a climax last week when Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill (House Bill 3399) repealing the Common Core standards in the state.
This was another subject where a few fervid Common Core opponents attempted to define their opposition to the standards in terms of their favorite rhetorical straw man — that is, UN Agenda 21.
We kept a close eye on this issue, but — as with HB 2807 — we recognized that the debate over Common Core wasn’t really an issue for our chapter. We didn’t take a stand; we didn’t enter the fray.
|Opponents of the Common Core State Standards were
motivated by concerns about appropriate local control
of education. But, a few of them “jumped the shark”
by implying that Common Core was a product of the
United Nations. In fact, it originated with the
National Governors Association.
In the debate over HB 3399, our friend Rep. Emily Virgin noted that Common Core had become a “toxic issue” in the Legislature. She observed that it was difficult to have a calm, rational discussion about the issue because of the outlandish rhetoric.
As if to illustrate her point, Rep. Gus (“Don’t Say Sustainability”) Blackwell characterized the Common Core standards as an “insidious” example of “federal tyranny.” Rep. Dan Fisher complained that Oklahoma schools had become “enslaved” by dependency to the federal government.
From the fringe of the Common Core debate, we heard plenty of overblown anti-UN rhetoric coming from the most extreme Common Core opponents. Even so, we heard only one legislator make a public statement attempting to link Common Core to the United Nations. That was Rep. John Bennett (R-Sequoyah County):
“We voluntarily have sold our freedom for the sake of funds that come from a bankrupt government that forces conservative, God-fearing Oklahoma children to abide by the government-mandated curriculum which is birthed by the UN with the intent of creating a sustainable Earth without borders.”
|Governor Fallin supported the Common Core State
Standards during her tenure as the head of the National
Governors Association. But, last week, she signed a bill
repealing the Common Core standards in Oklahoma.
That’s it. As a focal point of action at the State Capitol, the UN has waned from a centerpiece of legislation to a mere talking point in a broader controversy.
This is a welcome development. It reflects an understanding by most members of the Legislature that goofy attacks on the United Nations don’t really impress the voters. In an election year, it’s not smart to antagonize the quiet majority. Our State Senators and State Reps need all the friends they can get.
So, we’re reminding all of our elected representatives that 86 percent of American voters think it is important “for the United States to maintain an active role within the United Nations.” The United Nations Association of the USA speaks for that majority.
We are dedicated to educating, inspiring and mobilizing Americans to support the principles and vital work of the United Nations.