“Multicultural Mafia”
By Charles Sykes and K.L. Billingsley
Heterodoxy Magazine
October 1992




The Pasadena Doubletree is an un­likely site for a conspiracy. The el­egant pink structure is sumptuously landscaped and fragrant breezes circulate in the spacious courtyards even on the sultry afternoons of Southern California's Indian Summer. And the dozens of scholars from campuses all over the country who met here late last month did not look like revolutionar­ies. But behind closed doors of the meeting rooms, the conference on "Cultural Diversity Enhancement" had the tone of one of those "by any means necessary" conventions staged by SDS in the late 60s. The subject was how to turn American higher education inside out. It was sponsored by the Ford Foundation, whose strategy for a radical transformation of the university one critic has called "the aca­demic equivalent of an ethnic cleansing."


In an afternoon session entitled "Re­structuring the University," spokespersons summarized the thinking of the workshops that had taken place earlier that morning. Robert Steele, a Professor of Sociology at Wesleyan, noted that his group was aware that coercion would be required to change the university: "People will not be quietly assimi­lated to multiculturalism by truth through dialogue." They will have to be bought off as well as brought along. Steele described the terms of the deal: "You get research assis­tants, you give mentoring." In other words, using the largesse of Ford and other philan­thropic institutions, advocates of multiculturalism convince the hesitant to join up by paying for research assistants. These assistants, mentors of multiculturalism, must be women and people of color. "We will have changed the university when women and people of color can see themselves running the place," Steele concluded.


Steele was followed by Jonathan Lee, a Philosophy Professor at Colorado College who began by reporting that the workshop he represented had wondered if "consensus was an appropriate goal." That is, should advocates of multiculturalism act as a popular front or a vanguard? One of Lee's prescriptions for success was to "divorce courses from instructors" — that is, conceive and institute courses without regard to those who would be doing the teaching.


Continuing in this vein, Lee reported that his group had considered the question, "Is the multicultural approach an adaptation or a revolutionary transformation?" He had come down on the side of the more radical posi­tion: "At stake in multiculturalism is a direct challenge to privatized teaching, to privatized work and to privatized life." Even science, the one area so far immune to this radical transformation, would have to change, ac­cording to Lee: "Instead of teaching science as a doctrine divorced from its social con­text, we could teach science from a histori­cal, economic perspective."


The final speaker was Eve Grossman, a Princeton dean, who said that her group had worried about tenure: "If we want to restruc­ture the university, tenure stands in the way." She said that her group was aware that pro­motion and tenure were based on "disci­pline-based" research. Therefore, "When we talk about changing things, we're really talk­ing about something no less radical than changing disciplines and the definition of research." Grossman made it clear that her group of thinkers had kept their eyes on the prize: "If we want to change the world, we have to change the students."


As the session concluded and the par­ticipants got ready to adjourn for a multicultural reception at the Asia-Pacific Center across the street from the Doubletree ("an important meeting place for the cultures of East and West"), it was hard not to feel a sense of unreality. How did the biggest foun­dation in the world get into the business of academic revolution? Why was Ford push­ing so hard for the deconstruction of Ameri­can higher education?


From its founding in 1936 through 1991 Ford has doled out over $7 billion to over 9,000 organizations and 100,000 individuals across America and overseas. Its tax return stands a full seven inches high, three times the size of the Manhattan phonebook, and in September of 1991 its assets stood at $6.1 billion. Its staff of 574 are spread across offices in New York, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Chile, Peru, Bangladesh, Peking, New Delhi, Jakarta, Bangkok, Manila, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, Cairo, Zimbabwe and Kenya. Its program budget for 1992 and 1993 is $644.5 million, a 7.5 percent increase over the previous biennium.


Ford is America's philanthropic superpower and by far the largest and most powerful foundation in the world. But if in the past it has thought globally, it is now acting locally through an effort to mass produce political correct­ness on campus the way Henry Ford cranked out Model Ts in his Dearborn factories to acquire the billions that en­dowed this institution. Old Henry said you could have a car. any color, as long as it was black. For the Ford Foundation, you can get a piece of the six-billion-dollar pie, as long as you sign onto the multicultural agenda.


"The Foundation is a creature of capitalism," Henry Ford II said when he resigned in disgust from the foundation that bears his family name in 1977, adding that it was hard to discern any trace of capitalism "in anything the founda­tion does. It is even more difficult to find an understanding of this in many of the institutions, particularly the universi­ties that are the beneficiaries of the Foundation's grant program." The Foundation, lamented Hank the Deuce, was ignoring the very economic system whose abundance made it and all other philanthropic foundations possible.


In talking to Henry II, former Treasury Secretary William Simon noted that by the late 1960s foundation was "engaged in a radical assault on traditional culture, under the rubric of the 'public interest' and 'systematic social change'." Simon asked Henry Ford II how such a thing could have happened. "I tried for 30 years to change it from within to no avail," said Ford.



A favorite sport of philanthropoids (as members of the philanthropic community sometimes call each other) is determining the moment at which the Ford Foundation lurched to the left. The consensus seems to be that the Rubicon was crossed during the regime of McGeorge Bundy, the Foundation's president from 1966-1979. This Camelot exile led the Foundation as if it were a government agency and launched a new style of politicized giving. Some of Bundy's largesse was parochial — in particular a grant of $ 131,000 to eight members of Robert Kennedy's staff in 1969 to help them overcome their grief after Sirhan Sirhan gunned down their boss. The grants came under the rubric of "Broadening opportunities for young men and women who might otherwise be unable to develop their abilities." Call them Bobby's kids, the waifs of Westchester, Cambridge and the Ivy League.


The politicized grants kept coming after that as the Ford Foundation, particularly during the Nixon years, came to see itself as a government in exile, an engine for the social transformation which the American people signaled their aversion to by increasingly withdrawing support from lib­eral candidates.


Ford supported the La Raza people in their attempts to organize Hispanics in the Southwest. A month after Carl Stokes announced his candidacy for mayor in Cleveland, Ford jumped in with a grant to CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) to underwrite a voter registration program that helped Stokes carry the day. In 1982 the Urban Institute was the recipient of a $3,500,000 Ford grant, which it used to produce a 26-volume critique of Reagan Administration welfare policies. Some of Ford's 1991 grantees include the ACLU Foundation ($900,000), The Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund ($500,000); the Lawyer’s


Committee for Civil Rights Under Law ($350,000); and film-maker Henry Hampton, who got $200,000 to make a docu­mentary on Malcolm X.

The ultimate target of all this energetic social transfor­mation, however, is America's educational system, particularly its system of higher education. By the early 80s, Ford, whose activist staff was networked not just into the nerve centers of "progressive" politics but into the ganglia as well, saw that the university would be (that is, could be made to be) the battleground for an apocalyptic effort to force multiculturalism into the intellectual life of the nation. And this became one of the Foundation's chief ends.


It was a perfect place, the American university, for an eleemosynary institution to get a big bang for the buck. No central bureaucracy dictates what is taught; more importantly, most schools are hurting financially. Ford realized that with their enormous financial clout and their appearance of being above politics, foundations were the institutions best posi­tioned to change the campus climate. Stripped of all the elegant rationales and academic persiflage, it was essentially a matter of using lucrative grants to bribe administrators into making the desired changes. Of the $644.5 million it will spend in the next two years, therefore, Ford has earmarked $79.2 mill

ion for "Education and Culture." That is the division currently plan­ning and bankrolling PC on campus.


To promote its 1990 "Race Relations and Cultural Diversity Initiative," Ford hired a host of PC paladins: H. Keith Brodie, President of Duke; F. Sheldon Hackney, President of the University of Pennsylvania: Donald Kennedy, then Presi­dent of Stanford; Donna Shalala, Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin/Madison; Donald Stewart, President of the Col­lege Board; Frances D. Fergusson, President of Vassar (and a member of Ford's board of directors); Bernard W. Harleston, President of the City College of New York; Blandina Cardenas Ramirez, the American Council on Education's director of minority concerns; and Harold T. Shapiro, president of Princeton.


Ford clearly got the most qualified people for the job. Brodie, Shalala, Fergusson, and Kennedy had all fought the PC wars on their own campuses, instituting "speech codes," bas­ing Western civilization courses, and creating race-based admissions and hiring programs. According to EdgarBeckham, the 59-year-old program officer for Ford's Education and Culture effort who organized the Pasadena conference, this group "worked with the president of the Foundation to develop the conceptual framework" of the "diversity" program. Ford uses unnamed "additional advisers" on an ad hoc basis and Beckham adds that "our own grantees advise us."


The academic advisers' February 8, 1990 "Dear Col­league" letter, written on behalf of Ford, was a collector's item:

"Reports of racial and religious intolerance and sexual harassment are rising. Partly in reaction to this, some have questioned the free speech and academic freedom essential to the vitality of an academic community... Higher education's role in meeting this challenge is to embrace the rich diversity of American life in a manner that en­hances the educational experiences of all students. .. Our commitment to diversity requires colleges and universities to complete this transition by increasing substantially the numbers of people from underrepresented groups in our student bod­ies, faculties, and administrative offices. This is not only a challenge to admissions offices and faculty recruiters. It is crucial that diversity be sustained through completed student degrees and successful faculty and administrative careers. Increased nu­merical diversity alone will not end these tensions. "Reaping the full dividends of diversity may re­quire an institution to rethink certain aspects of the curriculum and other traditional commitments of the academic community. Diversity also brings changes outside the classroom affecting residen­tial life, campus services, cultural events, and student activities...

"This recognition of differences has framed affir­mative action efforts in admitting students, hiring faculty and awarding financial aid. . ."


It was likely this group that Ford Foundation President Franklin Thomas, a former New York Deputy Police Commis­sioner, was thinking of when he gushed, "there is more intellectual horsepower in this place now than there has ever been." Some of the teachers and administrators who had worked with the individuals probably would have had a different word to use with the prefix horse.


Thomas wields substantial power as both President of the Ford Foundation, an office he has held since 1979, and a member of Ford's board of directors. In his review of 1989, Thomas wrote, "It is ironic that at just the moment when the world is embracing the American ideal, here at home we seem to be retreating from America's great promise of opportu­nity." This promise he linked to the Great Society-like programs of the 1960s, which he said were trashed without the benefit of "objective assessments."


He doesn't intend to let the same thing happen to the adventures in multiculturalism Ford has begun to sponsor. In a September 12,1990 press release, Thomas explains Ford's intent to "broaden cultural and intellectual diversity in Ameri­can higher education." The program's goal is "to ensure that college curricula and teaching keep pace with the rapid demographic and cultural changes under way in American society."


Adds Thomas: "Most of us have little understanding of the diverse culture, attitudes, and experiences that make up our own societies. Unfortunately, this ignorance about other cultures breeds insensitivity and intolerance in young and old alike." He hermetically sealed his theory with a strong bottom line: "to reach the roots of intolerance and improve campus life, we must make the teaching of non-Western cultures a basic element of undergraduate education."


Unlike most foundations which were necessarily reac­tive, seeing their job as judging between the respective merits of proposals submitted to them, Ford had a better idea. It would take the initiative. According to its 1990 annual report, Ford "invited" 200 colleges to compete for grants of $ 100,000. But with the carrot came a big stick: any group or institution that receives any money from the Foundation must adhere to Ford’s affirmative action guidelines.


According to a recent article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, every grant application must include a "diver­sity table," stark as a South African passbook, which details "the number of non-whites and women involved in the project and, sometimes, at the entire institution." And in Ford's view some minorities are more equal than others. Asian-Americans may be one of the groups suffering most discrimination in higher education, particularly in the Uni­versity of California system, but Ford does not consider them a minority eligible for hiring preferences.


Ford's ramrod in multiculturalism is its vice president Susan Berresford, whom the Chronicle describes as "dogged in her efforts." According to administrators who have dealt with Ford, Berresford often calls applicants on the carpet about their percentages to bully them into conformity. As the same time, she denies that the rules constitute a "quota system." Indeed, in the face of all Ford's efforts to engineer human souls, Berresford persists in claiming that the primary criterion to receive Ford money is "talent."


Looking at Ford's obsession with percentages of mi­norities and women at the institutions with which it does business, Michael Joyce of the Bradley Foundation says that such a draconian affirmative action program is "an amazing thing because it means they are behaving as if they were a government." Joyce adds that "None of us on the moderate or conservative side even thinks of doing anything like that. We'd be laughed out of the business if we tried to impose. Nor would we dare involve ourselves in the criteria for hiring and that sort of thing."


Joyce's point is worth pondering. Imagine if, say, the John M. Olin Foundation (which people on the left have vilified simply because it gave a small grant to Dinesh D'Souza to complete Illiberal Education) attempted to es­tablish the "Ronald Reagan Free-Market Studies Program" at Stanford and insisted that, as a condition of funding, the school hire more middle-aged, white, Austrian-American and Anglo-American economists and change the base cur­riculum to include Von Mises, Hayek, Frederic Bastiat, Thomas Sowell, and Hemando de Soto. People all over the philanthropic community, with Ford no doubt leading the charge, would say that Olin was politically interfering with university structures in behalf of a fascist agenda.


One of the schools which qualified for Ford's $100,000 "Cultural Diversity Grant" and which \^^ therefore became one of its R&D projects was Tulane University. "The amount of money is nothing," says Tulane political science professor Paul Lewis, "it's simply an excuse to do what they wanted to do," adding that "what they would really like is one university to be a proving ground for their ideas."


The goals of Tulane's "Initiatives for Race and Gender Enrichment," were breathtaking in scope. According to the University's President Eamon Kelly, their objective was to "change, over time, the character of our university, and to bring it to the next level of social and human progress." At present, racism and sexism were "pervasive" in American society and "fundamentally present in all institutions." No one was immune because racism and sexism were "subcon­scious or at least sub-surface."


If the disease was a pandemic, a strain of racism and sexism resistant to such remedies as free inquiry and spirited open discussion, the cure was systematic quota hiring, with the Tulane provost empowered to intervene when enough "people of color" were not hired. The quota hirelings were to be given reduced teaching loads, higher salaries and extra stipends.


Ford's front-persons pressured departments to hold seminars on gender and racial scholarship and to integrate materials on women and "people of color" into their courses. To lift Tulane to the next level of social and human progress the school would also need tools of enforcement. Therefore, students were encouraged to report on one another as one way of providing the university "with tools to begin the process of removing racism and sexism from ourselves and our institu­tion." Department heads were ordered to report periodically on racist and sexist attitudes among their colleagues and students. The initiatives also provided for an "Enrichment Liaison Person" in each department to act as a commissar monitoring conformity. On all counts, the Tulane experiment gave a good sense as to what Ford's PC initiative would look like in widespread practice.


"My gut feeling about this," says dissident Tulane pro­fessor Paul Lewis, "is that Kelly has been sent down as a missionary from the Ford Foundation." Indeed, Eamon Kelly was a Ford Foundation program officer in charge of social development from 1969-1974. (From 1974-79 he headed the Foundation's Program Related Investments.) Ronald Mason, Kelly's senior vice-president at Tulane in charge of implement­ing the diversity initiative, was also a Ford transplant, as was the man Kelley installed as chancellor, who after a wave of faculty pro

tests over the program has since departed.


For Lewis, a veteran of the civil-rights movement, the Ford initiative at Tulane was "the worst assault on academic freedom since Senator Joe McCarthy' s escapades i n the 1950s." In the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Lewis argued that "uni­versities cannot operate where dissent is discouraged, where inquiry is under the thumb of orthodoxy and where professors and students are spied upon and reported."


As a result of his agitation against Ford's carpet bagging at Tulane, Lewis found an ally in philosophy professor Eric Mack. Mack pointed out that the University's multicultural "Initiatives" did little to remedy the fact that Tulane "offers almost no course in Islamic, African, Near Eastern, Indian, Chinese, or Japanese history, literature, fine arts, philosophy, or religion. Nor does the document display any interest in intellectual diversity."


Throughout 1991 Lewis continued to mobilize opposi­tion to Kelly's plan. As a result, Tulane eventually dropped the declaration that diversity, rather than scholarship or teaching, was the university's highest priority. Last May, Tulane's board of administrators scrapped most of Kelly's plan. Trying to snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat, Kelly claimed implau­sibly that the board's statement, far from foiling his plans, was actually an endorsement. "A liberal pragmatist would have cut his losses," Lewis says, "but Kelly is digging in.


While the Tulane battle raged, Ford was proceeding with his grand strategy elsewhere. Boston College an­nounced plans for a course on "alterity" or "otherness." Denison University announced efforts to extend its minor­ity and women's studies requirement into its Freshman studies Program. Haverford College announced plans to create or revise ten courses relating to prejudice and dis­crimination that would make up its new core requirement in social justice. The University of Rochester announced plans to expand its Freshman Ventures to include "the experience of oppressed groups and their resistance to oppression."


The fact that all these announcements were made simultaneously, and in virtually identical PC boilerplate, was no coincidence. Each of the schools had received a grant under Ford's "Race Relations and Cultural Diversity Initiative." Other schools which got grants from Ford included Bemidji State, Brandeis University, UCLA, Uni­versity of Iowa, Millsaps College, Mt. St. Mary's College, New School for Social Research, Notre Dame, Pitzer College, University of Redlands, Spring Hill College, Southwest Texas State, Virginia Commonwealth, and Wesleyan College.


The inclusion of Wesleyan, a prestigious liberal arts school in Middletown, Connecticut, was of special inter­est. Wesleyan is the alma mater of Ford's Education and Culture Director Edgar Beckham. Beckham was also a lecturer in the German department before going into administration. As a Dean of Wesleyan, Beckham cham­pioned politically correct programs. The kind of network­ing Ford can do is shown by the fact that Beckham was able to deliver Wesleyan to Ford for its pilot program and bag $100,000 for his alma mater at the same time.


In 1990 Beckham told the New York Times that he was enthusiastic about the Ford job "because of the experience I've had on a single campus." It was Beckham's "strong view that if you want to get at the heart of culture, you have to engage the faculty and you have to affect the curriculum."


How has this engagement proceeded with Ford’s students of color" and supports a chapter of SOR, Society Organized against Racism. A "students of color council" meets regularly with Dean Yenina Montero and other officers, according to Montero, "to go over the agenda." One faculty member who for obvious reasons prefers not to be named says that since the Ford grant, Wesleyan's PC cadres have been pushing for race and gender based hiring and "front-loading a lot of stuff into orientation." Fresh­men must attend a "four or five day boot camp" which features "multicultural and homosexual propaganda." The Ford grant also paid for faculty to have one course-load reduction, which they were to use in the development of multicultural curricula.


Ford's initiative at Wesleyan also got a boost from President William Chace, a former Donald Kennedy crony during his days helping to dislodge Stanford's Western Civilization requirement. New vice-president Joanne Crighton took charge of minority hiring, targeting five places in each department, with special emphasis on English and History. Wesleyan became the success story that helped palliate the fiasco at Tulane.

Evergreen State, in Olympia, Washington, was founded as an "alternative" school in 1970 and remains a time capsule of fuzzy leftism to this day, a sort of public version of nearby Reed College. At Evergreen there is no classic breakdown of disciplines, only "team teaching" and "collaborative learning." The racial breakdown of students and "faculty of color" is carefully monitored and administrators can rattle off the racial percentages like the periodic tables.


As it happens, Evergreen administrator Barbara Smith also runs the Washington Center for Undergraduate Education, which owes its existence in part to a grant from Ford. The Center is the largest statewide education project in the country. Participating schools include not only Evergreen, but the University of Washington and its two branch campuses, Seattle University (a private school), and 12 community colleges for a grand total of 43 institu­tions. All of them get information from the Center, a clearinghouse for multiculturalism.


Barbara Smith wrote a grant proposal, sent it to Ford, and hit the jackpot. With Beckham's enthusiastic support, Ford cut Evergreen a whopping $718,400 grant for a "Cultural Pluralism Curriculum Infusion Project," a "seven-step intervention" to promote cultural pluralism and "mani­fest the point of view in new and reshaped courses." Smith didn't even have to practice grants womanship in getting the money. "Out of the blue they [Ford] wanted to come and talk," she says. Edgar Beckham and some Ford col­leagues were soon winging their way to the Evergreen campus, where they took a hands-on approach. "There was one whole meeting where they coached us what to write," says Smith. By the time they had collaborated on a pro­posal, the grant was a foregone conclusion.


"The program wouldn't be in existence if it weren't for grant money," confesses Smith. "We had 90 people for 10 days in institutes. Seven faculty and administrators from each school." Without the grant, "we could not have had that kind of time or participation." Ford, says Smith has a "well developed idea where diversity should go, since they have a long-term agenda."


What is this long-range plan? In addition to a sort of Johnny Appleseed approach to sowing multiculturalism wherever it finds fertile ground, Ford appears to be concen­trating on what Beckham calls "institutional clusters." Besides the Washington Center, Ford channels money to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education and the Associated Colleges of the Midwest. The clusters, says Beckham, "will develop programs of institutional teams, leadership teams that will undergo an educational process themselves and then return to their campuses and influence the continuing institutional change."


Ford gave $434,000 to the Western Interstate Com­mission of Higher Education to expand and streamline its Institute on Ethnic Diversity. The Commission will invite Western colleges to attend intensive seminars on making their core curricula more diverse. "Participating institu­tions," the foundation notes, "will be required to make an  explicit public commitment, endorsed by the governing board, to work toward greater campus diversity." The concept will include addressing "goals, strategies and timelines for hiring minority faculty and staff, increas­ing the enrollment and retention of minority students, establishing faculty development programs, renewing the curriculum . . . and making appropriate changes in administrative policies and practices."


Along with the clusters, Ford grants continue to flow to individual schools. In Los Angeles, St. Mary's College is using a $100,000 Ford grant to hold faculty-student "development workshops led by experts on multicultural education and teaching." Northeastern Illinois will use Ford money to hold a campus-wide "University Day" with a diversity theme and workshops for faculty. Pitzer College is using $100,000 in Ford funds to revise traditional courses to "incorporate the perspectives of different racial, ethnic and cultural groups." Queens College will launch a Departmental Diversity Initiative that will include "re-evaluation of each department's educational philosophy and program. . ." The University of Iowa will use a Ford grant in "a required two-semester course." (Ford is not in the busi­ness of funding electives.) Notre Dame's $91,640 Ford grant will bankroll two-week intensive workshops for faculty members in core curriculum.

De Pauw University in Greencastle Indiana, where Dan Quayle went to school, is now having financial problems but thanks to Ford there is plenty of money for PC. De Pauw chaplain Stuart Lord holds classes in "deconstruction," the "reversal of negative and pessimistic ideas that have been embedded in people's minds." Professors send students to the video room to watch PBS fare such as "Racism 101." A multicultural tape features Gary Harper, a Purdue gradu­ate student arguing — unopposed of course — that "homosexuals have their own culture and face the same oppression" as other groups.


In his recent convocation address, De Pauw Presi­dent Robert Bottoms cited the authority of antediluvian leftist William Sloane Coffin, who had recently spoken at the school, to the effect that "freedom means building a ... just civic order." Bottoms said that De Pauw had "speeded up" the diversity process and referred to the "black perspective" and "Hispanic perspective" as though such a thing actually existed. "The administration's task," Bottoms said, "is to keep the issue of community on the institution's agenda. In fact, it may be much more important than most of what occupies our time." That line may have been the harbinger of a new direction for the school, taken with an eye to more grant money.


Last year De Pauw invited Edgar Beckham to give a convocation address, after which the Ford official asked if anything was being done in multiculturalism. Administrators knew that money was to be had and quickly submitted a proposal. Ford responded with a grant. The school used the funds to establish Ekabo House, an experiment in multicultural living.


A $100,000 Ford grant will enable the University of Redlands in Southern California to run a four-week workshop "focused on the introduction of cultural diver­sity into the curriculum." Vassar's $100,000 from Ford will set up teams of students and faculty who will "develop recommendations for revision of ten tradi­tional courses that serve as introductions to disciplines in the humanities and social sciences." Ford wrote a $326,700 check to the University of Pennsylvania for "a series of summer seminars in African-American cul­tural studies." A $300,000 Ford grant to UC Berkeley supports "faculty and student interdisciplinary research on the African diaspora," while a $180,125 Ford grant pays for a new doctoral program at Michigan State in comparative black history.


Under the Ford Plan, radical administrators, fac­ulty and foundations merge in a PC menage a trois, backed by Ford's fathomless vault of dollars. One gets little clue about this audacious strategy, however, from Ford’s own own literature. "They don't want to be too public about what they are doing," says the Bradley Foundation's Michael Joyce, "because they worry that if people with common sense understood what they are doing they would be rejected."


If Ford, as claimed, leams from its grantees, they should pay heed to Marty Strange of the Ford-funded Center for Rural Affairs, in Walthill, Nebraska. "It is a sad day when philan­thropy becomes the custodian of change," Strange recently told the Chronicle of Philanthropy, "because then when change occurs you've got a vested interest and you don't want any more change to occur. And that's exactly what a foundation ought to avoid."


By all indications Ford has thrown such caution to the winds. In fact, it is speeding up its PC production line. The Foundation plans to hire a scholar in residence to advise it on "diversity-related issues."

When he resigned from the foundation his grandfa­ther started, Henry Ford II said that he hoped it would spend itself out of existence. But that is not going to happen. Ford has all the money it will ever need, and is able to function as an invisible government in a field like education. It can pursue its radical goal of transforming higher education and yet avoid scrutiny. Even Edgar Beckham admits that "the foundation doesn't get opposition." The last indepen­dent book length critique of the philanthropic leviathan was Dwight MacDonald's The Ford Foundation: The Men and the Millions published in 1956.


Ford is so insulated from the consequences of its acts that it never has to reckon what it has done or is doing. As Irving Kristol has noted, during the 1950s Ford pushed the behavioral sciences in the belief that they would bring about the "politics of the future" and create a better society. They didn't and couldn't. The professors groomed in that misguided project were constantly sharpening their tools but capable of no real agriculture. Ford also bankrolled the 1967 effort to decentral­ize New York City's schools, which led Kristol to comment that Ford "blithely went ahead and polarized the city, inflicting enormous damage on the public school system and on the political system of the city. And having caused the damage, it lost interest and went on to something else."


There is a phrase to describe the basis of the Ford Foundation's meddling in higher education: the arrogance of power. The architects of its assault on higher education are armchair radicals creating a revolution from above. There is no enthusiasm for the future they are plotting, no demand for the innovations they are putting into place. But like other revolu­tions this one does not think in terms of serving informed consumers weighing the pros and cons of its product, but only of imposing its whims on passive victims who must buy whether they like it or not.