Which is the main bastion of institutional liberalism: government or the corporate boardroom, which in addition to its own leftist philanthropy also funds multimillion-dollar foundations? With a cutback in public spending possible, due to voter disenchantment, the answer may be the latter, for universities and special interest groups intent on spreading secularism and nihilism are more dependent than ever before on the wet nurse of philanthropy.
Thanks to foundations like Rockefeller, Ford, and Carnegie, along with the John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation and a host of others, these universities and organizations with a leftist mission can operate without the slightest need for modulation. As a former government official, corporate executive, and ex-university lecturer, I can so testify. A recent study by the Capital Research Center in Washington, D.C, reveals the many big-name companies funding left-liberal causes.
Capital Research has audited the philanthropic contributions of the 250 largest American corporations. It discovered that more than $36 million was granted in 1992 to more than 300 public advocacy groups. Moreover, for every dollar companies gave to organizations supporting limited government, they bestowed $3.42 to supporters of the left that advocate more intrusive government and social experimentation.
Prime recipients of the donations are prestigious universities that institute “chairs” for the study of economics and public policies. More than one well-meaning donor wishing to support free market activities has seen his dollars misapplied to propagate an outdated Keynesianism—or worse, perverted to endorse a leftist elitism wearing the false whiskers of “economic democracy.”
If pollution by government and blue chip corporate philanthropy were the only dangers to American culture, it would be heartening, but liberalism streams from church collection plates as well, in particular from the Roman Catholic Church’s Campaign for Human Development (CHD). As a Catholic, I have long opposed this quack organization tied to the nihilist 60’s and supported by the “second collection” at Mass, where baskets are passed to gullible worshipers ostensibly for support of “the poor.”
Last August more than 2,000 activists gathered at the elegant Hyatt Regency Chicago to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their money tree, the CHD. Supported by a church which ostensibly insists that homosexual espousal is a grave sin was a gay and lesbian rights organization, Grassroots Leadership, a CHD-funded organization from North Carolina. CHD provided, through the collection baskets, $25,000 to this organization, which according to its own literature is pledged to work “closely with . . . all major southern movements and organizations, including civil rights, women, labor, lesbian and gay, environment, peace and religious action.”
Last October, Terrence Scanlon, the Catholic president of the Capital Research Center, addressed a joint meeting in Chicago of Business Executives for Economic Justice and the City Club of Chicago. A nephew of Mike Mansfield, the former Senate Democratic majority leader, Scanlon was special assistant to both Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. He worked for me in the Office of Minority Business Enterprise of the Commerce Department, which I created in the Nixon administration, later serving as Ronald Reagan’s Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission and a vice president of the Heritage Foundation. Today, Scanlon is not only a compassionate conservative but a highly regarded leader of the pro-life movement. I reported on his critique of corporate and social philanthropy in my Sun-Times column, dwelling on the excesses of the CHD.
Into the meeting strode an emissary of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, an architect of the CHD, the Reverend Raymond Baumhart, S.J., former president of Loyola University in Chicago. As a newly named employee of Bernardin’s archdiocese, in the elegantly named Office of Evangelization and Christian Life, Baumhart stirred uneasily because much of what Scanlon said was directed to alleviating poverty and injustice. But after Scanlon’s remarks, Baumhart obediently read his archdiocesan’s approved statement in much the same way that old guard clerics were obliged to do on key issues prior to Vatican II.
“The cardinal is disappointed and distressed,” read Baumhart, “by the report of Terrence Scanlon and the use of some of these allegations by Tom Roeser in his Sun-Times column recently.” He acknowledged that occasionally there were granting mistakes, but that by and large CHD reflected the mandate of Christ to minister to unfortunates. Moreover, according to Bernardin, the Scanlon report was “filled with inaccuracies.” We leaned forward expectantly to hear from Baumhart what we had gotten wrong.
But now it was our turn to be disappointed. Father Baumhart didn’t say. Scanlon replied that he had sent his critique to all the Catholic bishops, had received some praise, some generalized disapproval, but not a word of refutation. Would Baumhart refute, for example, what Cornell West, a professor of religion and African-American Studies at Harvard, had told the CHD?
Anytime you talk about poverty in America, you also have to come to terms with the pernicious and vicious legacy of White Supremacy . . . and you begin to hit up against issues of patriarchy, insubordination, and wealth. . . . There’s no serious talk about the fact that one percent of the population owns 48 percent of the financial wealth [which is] oligarchic, plutocratic . . . pigmentocratic. . . . The ultimate logic of a market economy is the gansterization of culture [linking the free market with] homophobia, keeping trapped the unity of gay brothers and lesbian sisters.
Father Baumhart adamantly declined to be specific—as did his staff. The meeting adjourned showing the two sides of what in Bernardin’s Chicago has been a near schismatic church, with a prelate who continues to endorse the CHD. Amid the welter of pro-gay and abortion rights advocacy at the Hyatt Regency, Father Baumhart (under whose leadership Loyola University set aside separate days for the celebration of gay rights literature) appeared to give it full sanction. To critics of CHD, all he would say is: “Get a life!”
But perhaps there is hope. If leaders like Cardinal Bernardin cannot be ousted because of the linear, hierarchical nature of the Catholic Church, the direction of corporate giving can be changed. As Scanlon made clear, leading dispensers of funds to anticapitalist and cultural left causes are Ford, Chrysler, Exxon, AT&T, Aetna, Nynex, Primerica, and Monsanto, and stockholders in these corporations with stakes in an economy that could be affected by leftist groups could exert their power.
Recent grants from the MacArthur Foundation are telling signs of the philanthropic times. Under President Adele Smith Simmons, for example, the foundation has awarded $100,000 to a juvenile justice reform project headed by Bernardine Dohrn, who in the 1960’s served with the Weather Underground and once even declared war on the United States. At a public meeting before she fled to the Underground, she applauded Charles Manson’s murder of Sharon Tate as the height of revolutionary daring.
Like Dohrn, Simmons is a revolutionary, but she prefers to take her swipes, like many CHD recipients, at the Catholic Church. For instance, Simmons lavishly funds a group called Catholics for Free Choice, which is neither Catholic nor supportive of any choice except abortion. In any event, Ms. Simmons utilizes much of the MacArthur Foundation’s money to push abortion, which gives a whole different and poignant meaning to Baumhart’s expression “get a life,”
The Capital Research Center’s advice to well-meaning donors who wish to support the free market: don’t die. But if you must, then leave explicit instructions about your intent as a donor. If you’ll be establishing a foundation, set term limits and restrictions. In that way, you’ll be assured that your funds never support liberal causes you never supported in life.