Tuesday 10 June 2003

Neocon Convergences

The Bradley Foundation is the right’s economic fount for ideas promoting neoracist empire.

A funny thing happened while following the money trail of the neoconservatives who have hijacked U.S. foreign policy. The path led to a network of financial and intellectual resources that also is dedicated to neoracism.

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation has been the economic fount for the neoconservative notions of global affairs now ascendant in the Bush administration. According to a report by Media Transparency, from 1995 to 2001 the Milwaukee-based foundation provided about $14.5 million to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the think tank most responsible for incubating and nourishing the ideas of the neocon movement.

The Bradley Foundation also made grants totaling nearly $1.8 million to help fund the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), the influential group that had urged an invasion of Iraq since its 1997 founding. PNAC, headed by Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, boasts a membership that includes many players in the Bush administration, including Vice President Dick Cheney and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.

The Bradley foundation also helped fund Samuel P. Huntington’s neocon classic The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order, a book that brought the domestic culture wars to the global stage. Hitting a familiar, Eurocentric note, Huntington’s book argued that the Judeo-Christian “West” is the protagonist in an epic struggle of civilizations against the “other” (this time the Islamic East). For a group that supposedly has left Marxist thinking behind, these neoconservatives are rigidly dialectic.

All of this wouldn’t much alarm me; after all, the battlefield of ideas is as good a place to fight as any. But then I began to notice other beneficiaries of Bradley’s largess since 1995, and I found some troubling patterns. The foundation has provided nearly $2 million to the National Association of Scholars, which played a key role in the anti-affirmative action campaign known as the Californian Civil Rights Initiative and regularly questions black-oriented scholarship. It has also given $1.8 million to help fund the Madison Center for Educational Affairs, a group that provides guidance and support for 70 right-wing campus papers across the country.

The Bradley Foundation seems to have a soft spot in its heart for the kind of neoracist ideas that have gained currency in recent years. It has heavily subsidized authors like Charles Murray and Dinesh D’Souza, whose work on welfare and race has reinforced ancient stereotypes. Murray’s book Losing Ground argued that poverty is the result of personal failings and thus most government anti-poverty programs should be eliminated. And his book The Bell Curve (written with Harvard psychologist Richard Herrnstein) argued that poverty is the result of genetic traits of a subclass of human beings. These arguments were deployed to help convince conservative legislators of the futility of affirmative action and other compensatory social programs. After all, if African-Americans are genetically incapable of achieving racial equality, we must rethink the goals of the civil rights movement.

David Horowitz, one of neoconservatism’s most incendiary racial provocateurs, has raked in nearly $4.5 million in grants from the Bradley Foundation for his think tank, the Center for the Study of Popular Culture. Horowitz’s combative tactics seem designed to ratchet up tensions between blacks and Jews, a theme that seems to be a Bradley favorite.

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