Revolution: Fall 2007

The Powers Behind the Fascist Student Movement

The rise of the campus brownshirts is the result of a conscious campaign by ruling class organizations with literally billions of dollars at their disposal. As Time magazine noted, this "student movement" is actually “very old and powerful, run not by gangly kids but by seasoned generals of the Right.” (“The Right’s New Wing,” Time, August, 2004)

The president of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), one of the largest funders of reactionary student groups, articulated this clearly, saying “We must…provide resources and guidance to…sustain a counteroffensive on that last Leftist redoubt [stronghold] the college campus…We plan to do this by greatly expanding the ISI field effort, its network of campus-based programming.” His organization alone pumps in $10 million a year into right-wing campus groups.

In Turning the Tide: Challenging the Right on Campus, Anuradha Mittal writes that “the Right has built a nationwide campus network with a highly-organized infrastructure, an extensive network of campus affiliates, and over a dozen conservative student-focused think tanks that spend over $40 million annually.”

In 2004 alone, the three largest foundations supporting brownshirts—the ISI, the Young America’s Foundation (YAF), and the Leadership Institute—spent $25 million to build a reactionary campus presence. ISI funds 80 right-wing student publications, and by itself gives conservative groups at Yale University almost double the money that the college gives all student groups. The Leadership Institute trains, supports, and does public relations for 213 conservative student groups nationwide. They provide guest speakers, seed money, and support for newspapers and training in how to win campus elections. The YAF, according to Insight magazine, “organizes so many programs on so many campuses that it's difficult to find a conservative activist” who hasn't been associated with its activities. In 2004, YAF subsidized over 150 campus lectures by Ann Coulter, Dinesh D’Souza, and other fascists.

These same institutions finance many of the fraudulent “studies” used by Students for Academic Freedom (SAF) and others to make their claims of “liberal bias” at universities. One study from April 2005 was funded by the Randolph Foundation, big supporters of Horowitz.

Students for Academic Freedom

Students for Academic Freedom are at the forefront of the university brownshirt movement. It was founded by racist demagogue David Horowitz in 2003 to promote his “Academic Bill of Rights,” which aims to purge universities of radical and progressive thought in the name of “academic freedom.” SAF reportedly has chapters on 200 campuses. Horowitz regularly visits campuses and high schools, leaving in his wake well-funded, officially sanctioned right-wing student organizations.

The David Horowitz Freedom Center, which funds SAF, receives a million dollars a year from foundations like the Sarah Scaife Foundation and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation (the country’s largest right-wing foundation with $706 million in assets). In the 1990s, the Bradley Foundation funded the “scholars” who wrote The Bell Curve, which claimed that whites are intellectually superior to Blacks.

SAF has close ties to many reactionary ruling class forces, such as Senators Lamar Alexander, Lindsey Graham, and Bill Frist, former CIA Director James Woolsey, former governors Jeb Bush and Bill Owens (of Colorado), and Senator Trent Lott, among many others. At the recent SAF Conference in March, the keynote speaker was none other than Rick Santorum, the standard-bearer for fascist intolerance and anti-gay bigotry.

There is also a K-12 SAF, which brings these same methods to schools down to the kindergarten level. One example is what was done to Jay Bennish, a high school teacher in Colorado. A snitch inspired by SAF made a recording of comments by Bennish. These were then taken out of context and fed into the Republican noise machine of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, et al. There were demands for his firing, including by Horowitz on Pat Robertson's 700 Club. While his students expressed strong support, Bennish was subjected to death threats. Bennish was not fired, but he was suspended. As a result of the tremendous intimidation, when he returned, it was on the basis of a commitment to teaching “both sides,” with less discussion and more textbook assignments. One of his students lamented that, as a result, “We're not going to be learning as much.”

Campus Watch

Campus Watch was formed by Daniel Pipes, a close ally of Horowitz and virulent supporter of Israel who has held positions at the Departments of State and Defense. Rashid Khalidi, of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University has called Campus Watch a “noxious campaign” which is “intended to silence¼true debate on campus.”

Like SAF, Campus Watch compiles “dossiers” on “unpatriotic” professors who dare to speak or write critically of Israel and U.S. policies in the Middle East. Their website has a “Keep Us Informed” section, which encourages students to inform on their professors. Nation magazine (—November 11, 2002) reported that professors targeted by Campus Watch “have been inundated with hostile spam, rendering their e-mail accounts almost useless, and most have been victims of ‘spoofing,’ in which their identities are stolen and thousands of offensive e-mail messages sent out in their names. More than one scholar has received telephone death threats.”

Horowitz’s book Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left gave encouragement, direction, and political ammunition to Campus Watch and the pro-Israeli David Project, which launched attacks on Middle Eastern departments and scholars at Columbia University and elsewhere in late 2004.

Political scientists John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt recently wrote in The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy that Campus Watch was founded by “passionately pro-Israel neoconservative Jews” with the intention of “encourag[ing] students to report comments or behavior that might be considered hostile to Israel” and that it was a “transparent attempt to blacklist and intimidate scholars.” Within the last week, Mearsheimer and Walt have had a half dozen speaking engagements promoting their new book cancelled under pressure from Zionist organizations.

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