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Urban legend of `North American Union' feeds on fears

McClatchy-Tribune | May 21, 2007
PHILIP DINE

WASHINGTON Forget the conspiracy theories about JFK's assassination, the black helicopters, Sept. 11 or any others. This is the big one as big, in fact, as the entire continent.

We're talking about the secret plan to build a superhighway, a giant 10- to 12-lane production, from the Yucatan to the Yukon, with an immigration and trade center in Missouri. This "SuperCorridor" is to allow the really big part of the plan to take place: the merging of the governments of Canada, the United States and Mexico. Say goodbye to the dollar, and maybe even the English language.

The rumor is sweeping the Internet, radio and magazines, spread by bloggers, broadcasters and writers who cite the "proof" in the writings of a respected American University professor, in a task force put together by the ultra-establishment Council on Foreign Relations and in the workings of the U.S. Commerce Department.

As do many modern rumors, the fears of a North American Union begin with a few grains of truth and leap to an unsubstantiated conclusion.

"Nobody is proposing a North American Union," says Robert A. Pastor, a professor at American University in Washington to whom conspiracy theorists point as "the father of the NAU." They cite his 2001 book, Towards a North American Community: Lessons from the Old World for the New , as the basic text for the plan. They also point to his co-chairmanship of a Council on Foreign Relations task force that produced a report in 2005 on cooperation among the three countries.

This is no backwoods rumor, no small-time concern. Google "North American Union" on the Internet and you'll find 85,600,000 references (as of Tuesday evening). When a Commerce Department official appeared on a C-SPAN show recently, most callers asked about the North American Union.

Pastor says fears of Mexicans and Canadians taking over the country are a product of "the xenophobic or frightened right wing of America that is afraid of immigration and globalization."

Not that he doesn't think cooperation short of a merger is a good idea. He's testified before Congress on improving coordination within North America.

Writing in the current edition of Range magazine, Tom Findley explains: "Under the plan, more than 500 million people are meant to be literally incorporated into the North American Union as early as 2010. They are expected to share natural resources, military defense and a universal system of education that will alter long-held values, customs and traditions and even change their languages. Law enforcement, health care and cultural activities as well as virtually all trade will be financed with the new currency of the North Americans: the 'Amero.' "

The evidence? The article doesn't say.

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