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Brain-Free Zone 

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Why is everyone laughing about the new “United Nations-Free Zone” in the tiny Southern Utah hamlet of LaVerkin? Even the conservative Deseret News is giving the mayor and the town council the raspberry for outlawing the U.N.

The poor folks of LaVerkin are a little naïve to think their gesture means anything beyond calling attention to their deluded notions surrounding national and international politics. Their ordinance, which also requires U.N.-supporting citizens to register, echoes McCarthyism, if it’s not downright unconstitutional. But what are the LaVerkians doing that hasn’t had the support of such luminaries as Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh and others? They have been trashing the U.N. for years as some kind of satanic tool of the “New World Order.”

In fact, as speaker of the House, Gingrich refused to pay this country’s dues to the U.N. The Republican House majority continues to follow suit. And now, the people of LaVerkin are fools for falling in behind the drumbeat of these great patriots? What the people of LaVerkin have done, like it or not, is show up rightwing politicking for what it really is—the politics of hate and fear.

The modern United Nations is the outgrowth of an idea originally hatched by President Woodrow Wilson, who sought to bring countries together following World War I in a League of Nations. The idea was if all nations had a place at a table and the opportunity to talk to each other regularly, war might be avoided.

What is really wrong with the United Nations? Is it that Gingrich and Rep. Tom DeLay and their ilk don’t control it—can’t control it? Or is it just a convenient punching bag for the right to rally its base?

While the U.N. has been outlawed in LaVerkin, residents are still free to drink Pepsi and drive Dodge pickups. It’s telling, of course, that while the United Nations raises such ire, multinational corporations like Pepsico and Daimler-Chrysler are not only allowed within the city limits of LaVerkin but their corporate logos are signs of prestige. As multinational corporations continue to spread their power and influence around the globe, we might ask Congress, as well as other centers of brilliance like LaVerkin, whether that bodes well for democracy, the environment and public health.

Just down the road, the mayor of Virgin says he likes the anti-U.N. law. Earlier, Virgin passed an ordinance requiring citizens to own firearms. Without guns, they say, our freedom will be taken away. Maybe they’re right. But it’s difficult to know how they will deal with corporate globalization with handguns rather than through the United Nations.

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