Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.


Tea Party

  • Last week, at a program I moderated on environmental justice, I had my first direct encounter with a follower of the Tea Party movement. While it’s unfair to generalize from a sample of one, this guy lived up to the stereotype – intransigent, belligerent, misinformed (no, Henry Waxman is not a senator from Wisconsin), and completely uninterested in dialogue. He was also oddly likable.
  • On Saturday a note from an old friend raised concerns about a movement that seemed increasingly able to impose its views on local governments. “I think this is as battle worth fighting,” he wrote, and suggested a counter-offensive as a focus of this blog.

The public object of the protesters’ anger is something called Agenda 21, a non-binding resolution from the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio that called on all nations to practice sustainable development and conserve natural resources. The apparently Orwellian name, the UN imprimatur and the link to the “global warming hoax” have made Agenda 21 a bull’s eye for Tea Partiers and talk show hosts. The Republican National Committee recently condemned its “destructive and insidious nature”– although it didn’t explain how it had overlooked this “dangerous” threat for 20 years.

The dangerous threat is from zealots seeking to impose their know-nothing views on the country – and working harder than the rest of us to do so. This is a battle worth fighting.

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