money and shove it, the New YorknTimes responded with a front-page,nfour column headline: “EndowmentnEmbattled Over Academic Freedom.”nBut it appears there was much lessnthere than meets the eye, becausennothing much has happened sincenthen, except IAS ended up threequartersnof a million dollars poorer, andnsomebody else got the money instead.nWhat persuaded the institute to givenup a quarter of a million federal dollarsnand jeopardize an application for anothernhalf million — and that’s just fornthis year! — is new federal regulationsnthat apply to regrant agencies the samenprocedures that for a quarter of ancentury have governed the endowment’snown granting program.nSpecifically, these regulations havenalways defined that when you apply fornan NEH (or a National Endowmentnfor the Arts) grant, your applicationngoes for evaluation to a panel of experts,nwith a program officer of NEHnpresent for the discussion. If the panelnrecommends, then the program officernreports to the National Council on thenHumanities, the advisory council ofnNEH, and the council recommends tonthe chairman appropriate action.nThe fiasco of last summer, when thenNational Endowment for the Arts (onnthe council of which I sit) found that anregrant agency had funded as art a jarnof urine containing a plastic figure ofnChrist on the Cross, led Congress tonask, “Who’s in charge?” And the answernturned out to be, on regrants,nnobody. While applicants for directnfunding by NEH or NEA undergo thenprocess of panel and council review,napplicants to agents funded by NEH ornNEA do not. Those regrant agenciesndo pretty much whatever they pleasenand, up to now, have been answerablento nobody.nCongress likes nothing less than unregulatednspending of tax money, andnrightly so. So in addressing the uproarnof the Serrano scandal. Congress simplynlegislated that the same proceduresnthat govern the two endowments whennthey make grants will now apply tonregrant agencies as well. That means anprogram officer attends meetings thatndiwy up federal funds and the councilsnof the two endowments review thenrecommendations, just as they wouldnthe endowments’ own panels.nRegrant agencies like nothing lessnthan undergoing supervision in theirnuse of tax money, and, in the academicnworld, the code-language for “no, no,nno,” is “academic freedom.” And thisnis where the Institute for AdvancednStudy lept to the barricade, threw backnthe federal funds already appropriated,nrefused to conform to the congressionalnmandate, and expected to lead annational campaign against the NEHnrule.nWhat happened then? Well, notnvery much. In fact, nothing. It turnsnout that, among the hundreds of regrantnagencies in both the arts and thenhumanities, not a single one followednIAS. Everybody else took the money,nspent it in accord with the proceduresnCongress had legislated—and appliednfor more. So much for academic freedom.nBut “academic freedom” means differentnthings to different people. Justnnow, in the Pennsylvania tenure case,nthe U.S. Supreme Court laughed atnthe claim that having to tell people innyour own name, not anonymously, justnwhat you said in a tenure letter somehownviolates your “academic freedom.”nThe Court could not understandnwhy losing your license anonymouslynto defame abridges some freedomnyou used to have. And now, whennthe question is one of dollars and cents,na great many agencies managed to findnreasons to accept procedures that IASnrepresented as a violation of its “academicnfreedom.” Do they care lessnthan IAS, and is IAS these days moren”free” than anybody else? Few thinknso.nIAS Director Marvin L. Goldbergerndescribed the new procedures as “unwarranted,nunreasonable, and largelynunmanageable intrusion on fundamentalnmatters of academic autonomynand integrity.” Precisely why he invokednall these “uns” he did not specify.nNEH did not tell IAS, “choose thisnone, not that one,” nor did it even say,n”this subject, not that subject,” letnalone, “this opinion, not that.” All itnsaid is. Congress wants regrant agenciesnto follow precisely the samenprocedures that apply to the endowmentsnthemselves. If individual andninstitutional applicants to NEH ornNEA find the same procedure — panelnand council review—quite warranted,nquite reasonable, and quite manageable,nwhy the regrant agencies should benexempt no one could explain.nHow about a grant on political metaphors—nChicken Little against thenLittle Boy Who Cried Wolf, for instance?nOne of the institute professorsnrecently gave a paper on “the rhetoricnof reaction,” with the point that reactionariesnalways reply to left-wing proposalsnwith the same sort of answer,nlike, “it won’t work,” or “it’s too expensive.”nWhen a mathematiciannasked, “Well, maybe sometimes it’s notnmere rhetoric because they might benright?” everybody laughed him down,nand the professor didn’t deign to reply.nThis time around the rhetoric of thenleft invoked its cliche: academic freedom.nThe skies didn’t fall. And nobodynran out to protect the sheep. All thatnhappened is that to try to embarrass thenendowments and the (Democratic)nCongress that made the rules, the IASnthrew away three-quarters of a millionndollars on behalf of an academic freedomnmany thought not awfully differentnfrom mere self-indulgent privilege:nthe right to do whatever we want andnnever to have to answer why. To whichna medievalist member of IAS with anlong memory replied, “Who takes thenking’s shilling becomes the king’snman.nnn—Jacob NeusnernMIKHAIL GORBACHEV has it,nso do Jesse Jackson, Vaclav Havel,nNelson Mandela, and Violetta Chamorro.nJohn Kennedy personified it,nRonald Reagan scripted it, and MichaelnDukakis experienced what lifencan be like for a politician without it.nIt’s how success and failure in nationalnpolitics is so often now spelled: it’snc-h-a-r-i-s-m-a.nLike so many of the words bandiednabout in popular culture, the provenancenof the word has been all butnforgotten. Derivative of the Creekncharis (“grace”) and charizesthai (“tonshow favor”), charisma originallynmeant a grace or a talent speciallynvouchsafed by God. The years, however,nhave taken their toll on this meaning,nand far from denoting divine inspiration,ncharisma has come to meannnothing more than vitality or sex appeal.nIt’s a charm to be cultivated, marketed,nand learned through self-helpnseminars or self-actualizing tapes. Innfact, the truly wise don’t even need thenJUNE 1990/9n