Endowing the Right-wing Academic Agenda
[Excerpted from _Guide to Uncovering the Right on Campus_, edited by
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and copyrighted by Covert Action, September 1991, (tel. 202-331-9763).

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Endowing the Right-wing Academic Agenda

Sara Diamond

	At most U.S. universities, few students or faculty will 
ever come in contact with the Central Intelligence Agency.  
More likely, they will be approached by the numerous private 
and federal intelligence and policymaking agencies that do 
much the same work as the CIA.  These cooperative 
institutions include the RAND Corporation, the Institute for 
Defense Analyses, the U.S Information Agency, and the various 
"language schools" through which the government trains and 
recruits covert operatives.
	More likely still, students will bump up against the scores 
of tenured professors who, flush with grants from the large 
corporate foundations, hold sway over much of what passes for 
scholarship.  The recent epidemic of newspaper editorials and 
magazine articles purporting to warn of a "politically 
correct"1 gang of deviant leftist academics - out to 
indoctrinate young minds - is a by-product of more than a 
decade of heightened corporate influence at the university 
Where the Bucks Start
	During the 1960s anti-war, civil rights and women's 
movements, the Right had its mechanisms to monitor and 
disrupt progressive campus activism.  Although the federal 
government itself played the largest role,2 private 
organizations were developing their own independent 
capabilities.  Between 1968 and 1972, William F. Buckley's 
National Review published lurid reports on campus activists 
in a biweekly bulletin called "combat."  Young Americans for 
Freedom (YAF), founded by Buckley in 1960, conducted a "tell 
it to Hanoi" campaign of disruption against anti-war 
activists.  For its efforts, YAF earned public praise from 
Vice President Spiro Agnew, and various members of Congress 
wrote fundraising letters on YAF's behalf.3
	Still, it wasn't until the late 1970s that right-wing 
strategists, particularly of the neoconservative tendency, 
began thinking beyond mere confrontational tactics to a 
campaign designed to thwart campus leftists.4  In 1978, former 
Treasury Secretary William E. Simon and neoconservative 
writer Irving Kristol founded the Institute for Educational 
Affairs (IEA).  In 1990, IEA changed its name to the Madison 
Center for Educational Affairs (MCEA).
	IEA began with start-up grants of $100,000 from each of 
four major right-wing corporate foundations: the John M. Olin 
Foundation, the Scaife Family Trusts, the JM Foundation, and 
the Smith-Richardson Foundation.5  IEA quickly assembled a 
donor base of dozens of corporations, including Bechtel, 
Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical, Ford Motor Company, General 
Electric, K-Mart, Mobil, and Nestle.6
	The idea was for corporations to donate directly to IEA, 
whose sophisticated board of experts would then spend the 
necessary time sorting out grant applicants.  Once 
established, the young right-wing writers and analysts could 
then be placed where they would have the greatest influence: 
heading activist organizations, working on right-wing student 
publications, serving within federal agencies, or on the 
editorial boards of leading publications, like the Wall 
Street Journal.
	At a Board meeting early in IEA's career, Irving Kristol 
suggested that the group ought to consider publishing 
"outstanding work by recent Ph.D.'s in order to give their 
work impact and promote their careers."  Another officer 
suggested "that assistant professors actually needed support 
more than did graduate students and added that their past 
performance made it comparatively easier to choose among them 
in terms of the likelihood of future success."7
Lucre for the True Believers
	A constant theme in IEA deliberations was the need to 
promote scholarship that would subtly make the case for the 
morality of capitalism.  One early recipient of IEA largesse 
was the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), for a "book-
length study of the involvement of church groups in the 
boycott of the Nestle Company for its infant formula 
marketing program."8  The EPPC is a Washington, D.C.-based 
think tank established in 1976 with the objective of stemming 
negative public attitudes toward corporations. 
	"U.S. domestic and multinational firms find themselves 
increasingly under siege at home and abroad," wrote EPPC 
founder Ernest W. Lefever in a 1978 memorandum.  "They are 
accused of producing shoddy and unsafe products, fouling the 
environment, robbing future generations, wielding inordinate 
power, repressing peoples in the Third World, and generally 
of being insensitive to human needs...  We as a small and 
ethically oriented center are in a position to respond more 
directly to ideological critics who insist that the 
corporation is fundamentally unjust."  Lefever proposed that 
his and other think tanks would retrench their efforts to 
promote the morality of the corporate sector, and he 
specifically highlighted the need for "meticulous research 
and assessment" on "the attack on the multinational firms by 
university groups and so-called public interest lobbies."9
Buying Agitrop: from "Newspapers" to Dissertations 
	From the start, one of IEA's rhetorical devices was to 
position itself as "alternative" with a combative self-image 
as a persecuted minority.  To this end it established and 
endowed the "Collegiate Network" of right-wing campus 
	The notorious Dartmouth Review, begun in 1981, was the 
first.10  By 1985, the network included 58 publications.11  
The number had risen to 64 in 1991 and 70 by the fall of 
1993.  In 1990 IEA, now called the Madison Center for 
Educational Affairs (MCEA) spent $330,617 on its Collegiate 
Network of newspapers, and a total of $1 million on all its 
	Aside from whatever particular scandals the Dartmouth 
Review or its counterparts provoke on any given campus,13 the 
papers give right-wing college students hands-on "journalism" 
training and put them on career fast track.  Former Berkeley 
Review editor Phaedra Fisher Walker, for example, graduated 
in 1989 and moved quickly to the Assistant Editorship at the 
prestigious right-wing National Interest journal.
	While the spotlight has been on the Right's corporate-
sponsored campus press network, university-oriented 
strategists have been busy on at least two other levels as 
well: direct funding of academic scholarship and non-student 
organization building.
	 Vast corporate foundation troughs for right-wing scholars 
were set up especially in the fields of economics, business 
administration, social sciences, history, and law.  In 1989, 
the Olin Foundation alone dispersed nearly $15 million to 
about 200 different institutions, including both public and 
private universities and several dozen "independent" think 
tanks.14  A similar array, but smaller number of organizations 
received a total of $4.8 million from the Smith-Richardson 
Foundation's Public Policy Program in 1989.15  The Scaife 
Foundation spends about $8 million annually, mostly on 
private right-wing think tanks, the largest recipient being 
the Heritage Foundation.16  The Earhart Foundation disperses 
about $2 million per year, and makes relatively small 
($10,000) donations to scores of individual professors, 
mostly in departments of economics, philosophy and political 
science.17  These are only some of the best known right-wing 
foundations.  Others include Coors, JM, Bradley, Gates, 
Kirby, the Lilly Endowment, plus the myriad in-house 
foundations run directly by corporations.
	Each major grant to a think tank, academic department or 
individual scholar enables the grantee to hire research 
assistant to produce a large proportion of the available 
books, monographs and journal articles on a given topic.  
Through this process, corporate elites perpetuate their 
control over debate on public issues.
Organizing for Academic Rollback
	Not content with mere economic dominance, however, in the 
1980s, the IEA network of neoconservative strategists began a 
methodical effort to organize faculty and students. The first 
manifestation was the Campus Coalition for Democracy, started 
in 1982 and headed by Stephen H. Balch, a professor of 
government at the City University of New York.  Funding for 
the Coalition was solicited from IEA and its leading member 
	In late 1984, following some of the Coalition's initial 
meetings, Roderic R. Richardson of the Smith-Richardson 
Foundation19 circulated a confidential memo, "The Report on 
the Universities."  It proposed to distinguish between two 
possible anti-left strategies at the university level: 
"deterrence activism" versus "high-ground articulation," also 
termed "idea marketing."  Deterrence activism, wrote 
Richardson, "exists purely in response to the left-wing 
agenda.  It is not very interesting ... and it is the kind of 
activism sponsored heretofore.  At best it is a form of 
cheerleading that can focus some attention on stirring media 
events."  Instead, Richardson advocated "high ground 
activism" or the attempt to steal one or another high ground 
away from the left, by ... doing things like insisting on 
rigorous discussion and debates, setting up political unions, 
battling divestiture and other causes, not by calling their 
goals wrong ... but by proposing better ways of solving the 
problem.  Student journalism is a highground approach.  It is 
... an approach geared to long run success.20

Keeping Tabs on Heretics
	About the same time that Richardson and company were trying 
to figure out the best strategy for academic activists, a 
more militant faction than the IEA neocons launched Accuracy 
in Academia.  A spin-off of Reed Irvine's Accuracy in Media,21 
AIA recruited classroom spies and began compiling a database 
on professors AIA labeled "left-wing propagandists."  AIA's 
first executive director, Les Csorba, was a 22-year-old 
activist fresh from the University of California at Davis, 
where he had organized a harassment campaign against visiting 
lecturer Saul Landau in 1985.22  AIA's president John 
LeBoutillier, a former member of Congress, was then a leader 
of the World Anti-Communist League (WACL), as were three 
other members of AIA's initial advisory board.  Irvine had at 
one time been prominent within WACL and served on its 
"Psychological Warfare Committee."  At the time of AIA's 
founding in 1985, WACL was one of the most important 
coordinating bodies for death squad activities in Central 
America and elsewhere.23  While AIA was busy collecting field 
data on campus "subversives," the group's Latin American 
Counterparts were among those blowing up schools in 
Nicaragua, and systematically assassinating progressive 
students and professors in El Salvador and Guatemala.
Battling the Red, the Browns, and the Blacks...
	In 1987, the National Association of Scholars (NAS) was 
started as the first concerted effort to organize right-wing 
faculty against "politically correct" multicultural 
education.24  NAS is bankrolled by the Olin and Smith-
Richardson foundations, among others.
	Thus far, NAS has had its biggest success at the University 
of Texas, Austin, where the faculty group has been part of a 
broader, anti-progressive thrust.25  NAS entered the limelight 
in the spring of 1990 amidst controversy over proposed 
changes in a lower division writing course.  In response to 
an increasing number of racial and sexual harassment 
incidents at UT, an English professor had proposed that the 
course include reading about civil rights issues from a 
sociology textbook on race and gender.  NAS faculty led 
heated opposition to the plan, and the net outcome was that 
the proposed changes were tabled.26  While the writing course 
debate raged, NAS faculty also encouraged a right-wing 
student group to spearhead a successful defunding campaign of 
UT's Chicano student newspaper Tejas.27
	Meanwhile, across the country, NAS currently claims about 
1,400 members, numerous campus chapters, statewide affiliates 
in 17 states,28 and emerging caucuses within the American 
Sociological Association, the American Historical 
Association, and the Modern Language Association.  NAS has 
flourished amidst a corporate media frenzy over "politically 
correct" campus radicals run amok.29
Media Myths, Social Realities
	The backdrop to this media mythology is the fact that race 
is increasingly a real issue in consideration of university 
resource allocations.  A couple of trends are foreboding in 
this regard.  While the economy is tightening and disparity 
grows between a small wealthy class and a majority of middle 
and working class people,30 there are ever more students 
needing to be educated, particularly in the most populous 
states.  A recent Chronicle of Higher Education report noted 
that "by 2005, California's college enrollment is projected 
to increase by at least 700,000 students - pushing the 
public-college population to 2.6 million - and a larger 
proportion will be minority and non-traditional students."31
	At the same time, propaganda against "politically correct" 
multicultural education is escalating.  In 1990, the MCEA 
launched a new project called the "Student Forum," to recruit 
minority students who will organize against ethnic diversity 
in academia.32  Among those at the Student Forum's July 1990 
founding conference was Supreme Court Justice Judge Clarence 
Thomas.33  Thus far, the Student Forum has recruited only 80 
activists.  But the group has published a new national 
magazine, Diversity, with an intended circulation of up to 
100,000 copies, "distributed free on seventy select college 
campuses" since the fall of 1991.34
	As progressive students and faculty struggle to weather 
across-the-board budget cuts, the corporate-backed opponents 
of racial, gender and class equality will try to confuse 
people who can't afford to sent their kids to college.  They 
will try to define university education as a privilege - not 
a right of all citizens in a democratic society.
Sara Diamond is author of Spiritual Warfare:  The Politics of the 
Christian Right, and writes frequent for Z Magazine.  She is completing 
a Ph.D. at UC Berkeley on the history of US right-wing movements.  This 
article is reprinted with permission from Covert Action Information 
Bulletin, September 1991.
1For some cogent analysis on the use of the "PC" label to discredit 
multicultural educators, see Michael Berube, "Public Image Limited:  
Political Correctness and the Media's Big Lie," and Richard Goldstein, 
"The Politics of Political Correctness," both in Village Voice, June 18, 
1991; Matthey Goodman, "The Alchemy of Bias" and Elizabeth Martinez, 
"Willie Horton's Gonna Get Your Alma Mater," Z Magazine, July/August 
2Frank J. Donner, The Age of Surveillance.  New York:  Vintage, 1981.
3YAF documents collection, 1962-1975, obtained by author.
4For background on the neoconservatives, though with a strong liberal 
bias, see Sidney Blumenthal, The Rise of the Counter-Establishment:  
From Conservative Ideology to Political Power.  New York:  Harper & Row, 
5Fred Clarkson, "Reagan Youth:  The War of Ideas," Interchange Report, 
Winter-Spring 1985.
6Institute for Educational Affairs 1980 Annual Report.
7IEA Board Meeting Minutes, March 1, 1979.
8IEA 1980 Annual Report.
9Ernest W. Lefever, "The Corporation Project," unpublished memorandum 
dated July 18, 1978.
10See "Conservative Paper Stirs Dartmouth," New York Times, October 13, 
1981. The Olin Foundation authorized grants totaling $150,000 for the 
Dartmouth Review, according to its 1990 Annual Report.
11Clarkson, op. cit., p. 24.
12Madison Center for Educational Affairs, 1990 Annual Report.
13See: Matthew L. Wald, "Students at Dartmouth Face Off Across Widening 
Political Divide," New York Times, January 24, 1986; Matthew L. Wald, 
"Dartmouth Suspends 12 for Attack on Shanties, " New York Times, 
February 12, 1986; and James O. Freedman, "Bigoted Students, Doting 
Adults," New York Times, October 11, 1990.
14John M. Olin Foundation 1989 Annual Report.
15Smith Richardson Foundation 1989 Annual Report
16Sara Scaife Foundation, Inc., IRS Form 990-PF, 1987.
17Earhart Foundation, IRS Form 990-PF, 1988.
18See Sara Diamond, "Readin', Writin', and Repressin', Z Magazine, 
February 1991, for details on this group.
19The Smith-Richardson Foundation has had a history of sponsoring CIA-
linked media projects and leadership training programs for CIA and DOD 
personnel.  It was also privy to some of the covert operations conducted 
on behalf of the Nicaraguan contras.  See John S. Friedman, "Public TV's 
CIA Show," Nation, July 19-26, 1980, pp. 73-77, and Sara Diamond, 
"'Private aid' to Soviet right has official ties," Guardian, May 9, 
20Inter-Department Memo, dated December 20, 1984, from R. Randolph 
Richardson, titled "The Report on the Universities."
21On AIM, see Louis Wolf, "Accuracy in Media Rewrites the News and 
History," Covert Action Information Bulletin, Spring 1984, pp. 24-28.
22See Sara Diamond, "New Right's student shock troops target CISPES," 
Guardian, April 17, 1985.  A number of the 1980s campus activist groups 
- YAF, the Council for Inter-American Security, and the Moonies' 
Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP) - spied on 
the anti-intervention movement for the FBI.  Required reading on this 
subject is Ros Gelbspan, Break-ins, Death Threats and the FBI:  The 
Covert War Against the Central America Movement.  Boston:  South End 
Press, 1991.
23See Scott Anderson and Jon Lee Anderson.  Inside the League.  New 
York:  Dodd, Mead & Co., 1986
24Sara Diamond, "Readin', Writin', and Repressin'," Z magazine, February 
1991; and a series of articles 
25See Martine Torres-Aponte and Kathy Mitchell, "Capital and the 
Corporate Canon," Z Magazine, September 1990.  The Olin Foundation gave 
$125,000 to NAS in 1990.  Olin Foundation 1990 Annual Report, p. 21.
26For details on the controversy, see Charley MacMartin, 
"Multiculturalism: Right against, Left ambivalent," Guardian, March 27, 
1991; and a series of articles by Kathleen S. Mangan in Chronicle of 
Higher Education, November 21, 1990, February 13, 1991, and February 20, 
27Torres-Aponte and Mitchell, op. cit., note 25.
28Chronicle of Higher Education, December 12, 1990.
29For a useful survey of media treatment, see Laura Fraser, "The Tyranny 
of the Media Correct," Extra!, May/June 1991, published by Fairness and 
Accuracy in Reporting.
30For hard data on this trend, see Kevin Phillips.  The Politics of Rich 
and Poor:  Wealth and the American Electorate in the Reagan Aftermath.  
New York:  Harper Collins, 1991.
31Mary Crystal Cage, "California's Budget Crisis Threatens Its 
Commitment to Provide All with Equal Access to College Education," 
Chronicle of Higher Education, May 15, 1991, p. A19.
32See Sara Diamond, "'Politically incorrect' minorities," Guardian, 
March 27, 1991, p. 9.
33Madison Center for Educational Affairs, 1990 Annual Report, p. 11.
34Ibid., p. 12.