Wednesday, April 23, 2014
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 took away the John Birch Society's prime issue -- communism -- but the organization hopes to rebuild itself using Ron Paul supporters and opposition to a one-world government as a base.
Anna Morkeski, the conservative organization's state field director, said Maine's staunch support for Paul, at least among Republicans, makes it a natural for the John Birch Society.
"I think our message has found fertile ground in Maine," said Morkeski, 25, who plans to lead an "outreach" event in Yarmouth on Friday morning to highlight the John Birch Society's opposition to Agenda 21, a 20-year-old United Nations effort to encourage governments to promote environmentally friendly policies and laws.
The group will hand out pamphlets warning about the impact of the U.N. initiative, and plans similar events Saturday morning in South Portland and Jan. 12 in Portland.
Agenda 21 -- a call to environmental action for the 21st century -- sounds benign, Morkeski said. It promotes conservationist land- and water-use policies, recycling, and cuts in fossil fuel use and emissions,
"But it almost becomes like mob rule," she said. "Where are your rights as a minority in case you don't agree with everyone else?"
Morkeski said the group will be in Yarmouth from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. It chose Yarmouth because the town, along with Portland, South Portland, Falmouth and York, joined the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, an organization that grew out of Agenda 21 to promote grass-roots sustainability efforts.
On its website, the organization says Agenda 21 and groups like the international council are part of "the UN's plan to establish control over all human activity" and represent another step in the march to a one-world government with the U.S. in a subordinate role.
"It seemed like a good idea at the time," Town Manager Nat Tupper said of Yarmouth's decision to join the international council a few years ago.
Yarmouth decided to save the $600 annual dues and dropped its membership in the council this year, he said
Tupper said he learned about the John Birch Society's concern over Agenda 21 after seeing pamphlets left behind by a tea party group that meets at the Log Cabin, a town meeting room that's open to the public.
The main result of Agenda 21 and the international council in Yarmouth, he said, was the establishment of a committee that looks at ways to reduce the town's energy consumption. Tupper said the immediate focus has been to save money.
"There's been no discussion about world domination yet, but we did regulate dogs off the beach, so I suppose it's a toehold," Tupper said.
Snickers aside, Morkeski said concerns about a new world order are real.
"We're really all about restoring constitutional government because we see that as a way of preventing tyranny," she said. "There are totalitarians everywhere. The U.N. is full of them and we have them in our government."
The John Birch Society was organized in the 1950s, at the height of the Cold War. It is named after an American missionary turned military intelligence officer who was killed in China after World War II and is considered the first U.S. casualty in the struggle between capitalism and communism.
The society focused on the threat of communism throughout the Cold War, said Mark Brewer, an associate professor of political science at the University of Maine, but always considered any steps toward a one-world government as equally ominous.
"They opposed, in general, any outside attempts to control the United States, whether the U.N. or the Soviets," Brewer said. "They would argue that communism is still lurking, but trying to attract followers with very strong anti-communism without the Soviet Union is hard to do."
So opposition to Agenda 21, which is nonbinding, "fits with them," Brewer said.
Morkeski, however, said fear of a one-world government is reality, not a claim or conspiracy fears.
"We want to get our government back," she said. "It's all about educating the electorate on the Constitution and stopping the new world order."
Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: