Utah Get US out! Campaign; citizen activists and legislators work together to send a message to Congress: "Get US out! Of the United Nations". (United Nations).
In February, state Representative Don E. Bush sponsored a resolution (H.R. 7) in the Utah House urging Congress to withdraw the United States from the United Nations. Building on past efforts and their statewide network, Utah's Get US out! Committees swung into action to win passage of H.R. 7. When the UN recently took to bashing the U.S. and some of its allies, it provoked anti-UN sentiment nationwide, increasing the likelihood that the Utah resolution would pass. The resolution sailed easily through committees and was headed for victory when it was stopped by what would seem to many an unlikely source of opposition: Republican leadership, most notably Utah's U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch and Utah Governor Michael Leavitt.
Fearing the resolution would pass if brought to the floor for a vote, the House leadership sent H.R. 7 to "legislative Siberia," the Rules Committee. In March, during the closing days of the legislative session, Rep. Bush and other backers of the measure succeeded in breaking it loose from the Rules bottleneck, but were unable to get a full House vote before the legislative clock ran out. Nevertheless, Utah's hardy patriots are undaunted; in fact, they are already planning, organizing, and working toward victory in the next legislative session. "Instead of letting up we will be intensifying our educational campaign' says Ogden Get US out! Committee Chairwoman Ann Turner.
"We will be scheduling more UN video showings and speakers, doing more petition signing, more letter writing, more literature distribution, and putting up more billboards," Mrs. Turner told THE NEW AMERICAN. "Utah's citizens are becoming better informed about the UN, and the politicians who support the UN are going to be feeling a lot of heat from them. I think we are going to see H.R. 7 passed here'
The Utah Get US out! effort shows how positive things can happen when opportunity meets preparation, organization, and dedication. It also serves as a model for other states to follow in building support for state and local resolutions similar to Utah's H.R. 7, all of which will greatly increase the likelihood that Congress will finally move toward terminating U.S. membership in the UN.
Back in 1995, about the same time that the Global Conference on the International Year of the Family took place in Salt Lake City, Get US out! billboards started springing up around Utah. Local activists posted them hoping to counter media support for the UN, such as a column written by Lois Collins, "human services" editor of Utah's Deseret News. Therein, she stated that the conference "could be likened to a global hug--dozens of countries banding together to wrap their arms around the issues that trouble them." *
If there were any hugging to be done, most Utahns preferred that it be done within the confines of their own families, and not "globally"! The publicity given to the internationalist-minded event undoubtedly provided anti-UN activists with excellent rhetorical ammunition that helped them build a case against the anti-family UN.
In late 2001 and early 2002, three separate Get US Out! Committees were formed in Utah. The committees, a project of the John Birch Society that also welcomes the participation of non-JBS members, took opposition to the UN to a new level. Each committee had to reach certain organizational requirements prior to being established, including a minimum number of members and volunteer leaders willing to serve as chairmen of various functional subcommittees. In other words, each committee's members demonstrated organization, dedication, and the willingness to accomplish the goals set before it.
Early in 2002, members of the Utah County Get US out! Committee leased a large, commercial billboard alongside I-15 in Orem for a message that read: "The United Nations Wants to Take YOUR Gun!" Members of the Get US out! Committees and the John Birch Society raised over $10,000 from donors across Utah for the project. The donations funded not only the billboard but also statewide network television commercials, county-wide radio spots, and pamphlet distribution. One of the group's high-profile projects was an April speech event, built around the topic: The United Nations' No-Win War on Terrorism." From January through April of 2002, the committee also organized weekly video presentations to build an audience for that speech.
The I-15 billboard caught the eye of Eric D. Snider, whose "Snide Remarks" column appears in the Provo, Utah, Daily Herald. Responding to the billboard's message, Mr. Snider wrote a column headlined: "If I had a gun, the U.N. would be welcome to it." Committee members were undaunted, however, because they realized that, critical though the column was, it provided free publicity for their campaign.
Besides the write-up in the press, the committee's Get US out! commercials aired on Salt Lake City's TV channel 13 (Fox) during the Olympics, when many thousands of people from around the world were visiting the city.
A committee organizer in Utah noted at the time: "With Secretary-General Kofi Annan coming to Utah for the Olympics and Governor Mike Leavitt hosting him at a reception, we are glad to have the commercials and the billboard here to greet the UN monster."
With such heavy publicity and organizational activity occurring throughout 2002, it is not surprising that 2003 would see more concrete results.
On February 1st, a Salt Lake Tribune headline announced the story: "Lawmaker: Get Nation Out of U.N." The story reported, with less than wholehearted enthusiasm, that Utah state Representative Don E. Bush had introduced House Resolution 7, urging Congress to withdraw the United States from the United Nations, John Hughes, editor of Utah's Deseret News, was highly critical of H.R. 7 and complained in an editorial that the measure "would undo much of the good the Olympics did for Utah's image one year ago." Mr. Hughes is anything but an impartial observer; he is a former UN undersecretary-general and a member of the internationalist-minded Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
Activists diligently working in Utah's Get US out! Committees realized, however, that articles of this sort would only make people aware that opposition to the UN was gaining strength, and also make them curious about the Get US out! campaign. And so, they sprang into action to support H.R. 7.
One committee member wrote a citizen's alert, which, in keeping with the religious nature of many members, included recommendations for fasting and prayer. Next, they appointed three resolution project chairmen for each of the Get US out! Committees in Utah, with each chairman having responsibilities for a specific geographic area. They got an updated address and phone number list of state legislators and divided the task of contacting each legislator by committee. Ann Turner was in charge of the printing project. They had 104 copies of H.R. 7 printed up (one for each legislator), together with 104 copies of a 21-page documentation packet. They got packets and resolutions in the hands of all the legislators. They gave many of them copies of the United Nations special issue of THE NEW AMERICAN, as well as other issues of and reprints from the magazine. All of this work built upon other activities stretching as far back as last fall, when committee members had invited legislators to UN-themed speaker events the y had sponsored. Committee members also showed some legislators videos, including the popular John Birch Society-produced documentary The UN. Deception.
When it came time for H.R. 7 to be considered, some members of the Get US out! Committees testified before the Utah House's Government Operations Committee, and received substantial media coverage outside the statehouse. Camera crews from three Salt Lake City TV stations converged on the scene and interviewed several Get US out! Committee members.
Several times throughout the legislative session, opponents of H.R. 7 attempted to bury the measure by sending it back to committee, but thanks to the persistence of the resolution's supporters, it proved unusually resilient. At one point, H.R. 7 backers forced a recorded vote and defeated a motion to bury the resolution in committee, by a 34-33 margin. As late as the final evening of the legislative session, March 5th, supporters hoped for a vote, but the calendar was crowded with other measures competing for legislators' attention and the legislature adjourned for this year without H.R. 7 having a chance to be voted on by the full House.
Senator Orrin Hatch appears to have played a decisive role in torpedoing the resolution. Senator Michael Waddoups, the majority leader of the Utah Senate, told Get US out! Committee member Deanna Arnason that he had conferred with Hatch on the matter and Hatch had dismissed the resolution as a "joke." Following Hatch's lead. Waddoups turned thumbs down on the resolution. Another activist, who works closely with the legislature and asked not to be named, told THE NEW AMERICAN: "Majority Leader Waddoups has been good on many issues, but his running to Senator Hatch on the UN resolution is a bad sign; it shows the harmful influence that Hatch has on the legislature and state politics in general. The real joke is Hatch's unwarranted image as a conservative. He supports many unconstitutional, Big Government programs and has been praised by UN officials for his support of UN programs. But the Get US out! campaign is gaining steam and next time around it will take more than Hatch and Leavitt to stop it." Senator Hat ch reportedly also spoke to members of the House to dissuade them from supporting the measure. Governor Leavitt, a strong UN supporter was quoted in the Deseret News, one of the Beehive State's leading newspapers, as opposing the resolution.
Planning Next Year's Crop
Rep. Don Bush says he intends to reintroduce the resolution in the next legislative session. Rep. Glenn A. Donnelson, who cosponsored the measure, believes that support is building for this effort. "This is a very important matter not only for our state legislature but for every state legislature," he told THE NEW AMERICAN. "The time for getting out of this organization [the UNI is long overdue." Rep. Donnelson also recognizes the importance of citizen involvement in this effort. "The legislators can't do this without the help of informed, dedicated citizens," he said. The legislators need both "the information and the prodding" from their constituents to get them to move on this issue.
Utah Get US out! Committee members plan to be there offering that help. They are encouraged by the number of legislators who demonstrated support for the measure and also by the publicity generated for their campaign. Ann Turner promised: "[N]ext year we intend to come back.... We're going to continue with this campaign all year; then we'll come back and we'll start it in the Senate."
* The UN's International Year of the Family (IYF) program, which co-sponsored the Children's Rights Congress, insists that the family must be reconstituted as "the smallest democracy at the heart of society."
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|Publication:||The New American|
|Date:||Apr 21, 2003|
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