Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
The Republican Party is fast losing touch with reality.
When on December 3, I read a New York Times editorial urging Senators to vote for the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, I thought the piece to be a waste of time, since no one in his right mind would be against such a measure.
Boy, was I wrong. The next day, I was shocked to find out via Twitter that a significant portion of Republicans are indeed delusional. Not even the presence of Bob Dole in a wheelchair compelled enough Senators to break ranks. (And kudos to the eight who did, including John McCain, Richard Lugar, and the two Senators from Maine.)
"The Senate's rejection of the disability treaty is disgraceful," tweeted Joe Cirincione, an arms control expert and an observer of the D.C. scene for a long time. "Whipped by the worst of the conspiracy fanatics. They should be ashamed."
The treaty was blocked by a gaggle of hyperventilating characters who dictated Republican policy from the sidelines.
"The vote was a triumph for Glenn Beck, Rick Santorum and others on the hard-right loon fringe, who have been feverishly denouncing the treaty as a United Nations world-government conspiracy to kill disabled children (you can look it up)," blogged New York Times editorialist Lawrence Downes.
These cranks have hijacked the party. They have a paranoia about the United Nations that they've made GOP policy. A prime obsession of this group is Agenda 21, a U.N. blueprint for ecologically sound development. The John Birch reincarnates see this as a plan to take over the United States. They've gotten a road project cancelled in Maine after claiming to the governor that it was part of a U.N. conspiracy. They've strong-armed the GOP to officially adopt a resolution against the agenda. And now they have a friend in the Senate who fully agrees with their obsession: Senator-elect Ted Cruz from Texas.
"'Stop Agenda 21,' cried Cruz in an alert posted prominently on his campaign website," Jim Hightower reported in the October issue of The Progressive. "Agenda 21 is a twenty-year-old, innocuous nonbinding U.N. resolution (agreed to by then-President George Bush the First). It encourages governments to develop plans for sustainable development of 'open spaces' -- and that's what rubs Ted raw."
It is this crowd that has helped make the "Left Behind" series a best-seller -- where the villain is the suave U.N. Secretary-General Nicolae Carpathia, who uses his post to lead as the Antichrist a one-world government.
The opposition to the disabilities treaty fits in well into this worldview -- except that it isn't clear what the opponents of the treaty achieved by scuttling such a worthy initiative.
"Praised Be the Glorious Sovereignists Who Protect the U.S.A. from.... from.... wait, what?" asked the headline of a commentary by Professor Daniel Drezner at the Foreign Policy website.
Instead, a motley crowd of U.N. haters, pro-lifers, and anti-abortion freaks stoked the worst sort of fears in their base, compelling them to coerce their frightened GOP senators into embarrassing themselves.
Shame on all of them.
If you liked this article by Amitabh Pal, the managing editor of the Progressive magazine, please check out his article entitled "Bangladeshi Factory Fire Horror Exposes Workings of Global Economy."
Follow Amitabh Pal @amitpal on Twitter.
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