Friday, June 06, 2008

Right-wing sugar daddies

-- by Dave

One of the questions that always hovers over hate groups and radical-right organizations is: Where do they get their money? We know that what they're able to collect through memberships and fund-raising devices is only a pittance in the context of the kind of cash flow they seem to generate; and there are many questions about the large startup sums they often have. What we've known, in fact, is that many of these groups have wealthy conservatives -- often building-and-development magnates, or ideologues with inherited wealth -- quietly underwriting their work.

One of the more noteworthy of these is a Seattle-area-based rocket scientist named Walter P. Kistler, whose activities in this regard have just been thoroughly exposed in a pull-back-the-covers report from the Southern Poverty Law Center:

An accomplished rocket scientist has become the sole donor to the Pioneer Fund, which is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Since 2003, Walter P. Kistler — the founder of Kistler Aerospace, who in 1996 endowed in perpetuity the well-known Bellevue, Wash., science outfit Foundation for the Future — has given $200,000 to the Pioneer Fund. The fund is an organization that has bankrolled many of the leading Anglo-American race scientists of the last several decades as well as anti-immigration groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform and Californians for Population Stabilization. Kistler told the Intelligence Report he would be happy to donate even more to the Pioneer Fund, which he considers "an institution that has courageously attempted to do research in the field of human differences."

"I am fearless about supporting scientific research in this field," Kistler said. "I am not concerned about battles in society about what is and what is not 'racist.'"

What he's apparently even less concerned about is the truthfulness or integrity of the work his millions underwrite. The Pioneer Fund and its offspring -- particularly FAIR, the anti-immigration outfit -- have a history of peddling provable nonsense and outright disinformation, often with an academic guise.

Worse still, they often are presented in the mainstream media as though they were actually legitimate organizations presenting academically sound information, when in fact they're just hatemongers with an academic veneer.

The Pioneer Fund is just the tip of this iceberg:

Behind the ideas of race scientists for the past half-century, there has been money — and lots of it.

If you scratch the surface of almost any of the prominent race scientists of recent decades, you will find the same well-endowed institution: the Pioneer Fund. Established in 1937 to "improve the character of the American people" by promoting the study of eugenics and the procreation of descendants of the original white colonial stock, Pioneer has funded many of the leading Anglo-American race scientists of the last several decades.

These grant recipients have included William Shockley, Hans J. Eysenck, Arthur Jensen, Roger Pearson, Richard Lynn, J. Philippe Rushton, R. Travis Osborne, Linda Gottfredson, Robert A. Gordon, Daniel R. Vining Jr., Michael Levin and Seymour Itzkoff.

... The IAAEE brought together academic defenders of segregation in the United States and apartheid in South Africa. The Pioneer Fund also supported a variety of institutions working to legitimize race science, including the IAAEE and the journal Mankind Quarterly.

And it extends all the way to groups like FAIR. Eric Alterman recently discussed the significant role that FAIR has played in disseminating nativist nonsense in the guise of pseudo-academic studies on immigration, particularly through cable news shows like Lou Dobbs' misbegotten CNN broadcasts:

Stein is most popular on CNN, where he has so appeared, or been quoted, over 90 times since 2000. Just last year, Stein made 12 separate appearances on “Lou Dobbs Tonight” to discuss immigration, and several more with Glenn Beck, where he praised the host as “so, so absolutely on point” on immigration.

What CNN viewers were never told is that aside from simply being an aggressive anti-immigration organization, FAIR is also listed as a hate group with the Southern Poverty Law Center. Its representatives have long expressed controversial anti-Latino and anti-Catholic attitudes, and some key officials are members of white supremacist groups. What’s more, the organization has proudly taken $1.2 million from a racist eugenics foundation that was established to “promote the racial stock of the original colonists.”

What's striking about this, of course, is that Dobbs simply rejects as untenable any criticism of his work whatsoever as being the work of "liberal" "open borders" groups -- including that from Media Matters and the SPLC, neither of which have any discernible position on border security or immigration policy. And yet he will have as guests on his program figures from definable hate groups like FAIR and American Border Patrol (not to mention the Minutemen) without explaining to his audience these groups' backgrounds or agendas -- and he won't bat an eye wondering whether or not these views are legitimate.

And it's bad enough that Dobbs and fellow talkers like Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck can broadcast this crap on the air. It's also that their journalistic colleagues put up with it. As Alterman says:

Nevertheless, the cable bosses allow this vitriol to be broadcast on an almost nightly basis, and the rest of the media has not yet taken notice or spoken out. Rather, the Politico’s Mike Allen is worried that former Bush administration Press Secretary Scott McClellan has adopted “the vocabulary, rhetoric” of “haters”—that is, the majority of the nation who oppose the war, oppose the administration, and want nothing to do with this kind of fear mongering. But that’s another story….

Actually, it is in many ways the same story. Concern trolls Mainstream pundits like Mike Allen depend upon a narrative that depicts the left as a pack of hatemongers -- but they're all too happy to propagate the work of genuine hatemongers from the far, far right. Especially if they have enough money to buy the pretense of legitimacy.

[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]

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