The Oregon County That's Not in the U.N.

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There are currently 193 member states of the United Nations, including everyone from South Sudan (added just this month) to the Solomon Islands. And of course, the United States is a charter member, but that doesn't mean the entire U.S. is represented.

If you stop by Oregon's Grant County, you'll see signs declaring the region a "U.N.-Free Zone." That's the result of a 2002 vote in the county that banned the U.N. from the region over concerns that the body wanted to infringe on residents' rights to own guns, take back private property, control education and establish a one-world religion. There were also concerns about the fiscal cost of belonging to the U.N. and the body's environmental record.

Herb Brusman, the author of the measure, told the East Oregonian newspaper that the vote was "a statement to be made ... [that] the less we have contact with [the U.N.], the better."

The area has a long history of trying to brush off government control -- in the same election, they passed a law granting citizens the right to cut down trees on federal property and has fought environmental regulations that they say restrict the timber business.

The law still stands, although the U.N. says it ultimately doesn't matter. In a February 2011 interview with The Oregonian, U.N. ambassador Susan Rice said the county's concerns were "not grounded in reality."

"The U.N. can't tax us, the U.N. can't change our laws, the UN has no black helicopter fleet -- it's a fantasy," Rice said, adding that the U.N. doesn't have jurisdiction over any country.

Grant County wasn't even the first spot to declare itself free of the U.N. In 2001, the board of the Utah town of La Verkin held a special session on July 4 (natch) to pass an ordinance barring any town money to be spent on U.N. activity. If an individual citizen wanted to support the U.N., they would have to display a sign reading "United Nations work conducted here." The ordinance was declared unconstitutional a few weeks later and was ultimately repealed in a 2002 vote.

A similar measure was enacted in Bingham, New Mexico, and a bill was even passed in the Utah House of Representatives that would encourage the U.S. Congress to withdraw from the U.N. That, predictably, did not meet its intended goal, but state Rep. and legislation author Dave Bush said passing the resolution was retribution for a body that had interfered in too many American wars.

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July 29, 2011 - 1:20pm
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