Dear Administrators: To Protect Your Faculty from Right-Wing Attacks, Follow the Money

By Isaac Kamola


At first glance, the large number of recent media controversies concerning public comments made by college faculty appear spontaneous. However, upon closer look, these attacks follow an identical script and originate from the same handful of political and media outlets. Following the money makes it possible to see these attacks on scholars as manufactured by well-funded, well-organized right-wing donors. The Koch brothers, and donors in their orbit, spend considerable money to transform colleges and universities. One part of this strategy includes attacking, marginalizing, and delegitimizing scholars critical of free-market capitalism and white supremacy. This paper examines ten high-profile attacks on faculty, demonstrating the common script across them. It then explores the specific case of Campus Reform’s attack on Professor Johnny Williams at Trinity College in 2017, examining specifically how college administrators focused on the content of Williams’ posts rather than the political motivations behind the attack. I argue that following the money leads to a more successful political strategy for warding off well-funded, ideologically motivated attacks on faculty.

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The article suggests that Campus Reform is somehow a project of the Koch Brothers. According to the article, the Leadership Institute spends $15 million a year on campus political activities. One of its activities is Campus Reform. The Kochs give to the Leadership Institute, so Campus Reform is a Koch affiliate. Following all the reasoning and links, we finally get to this page for a source:
where we discover that over a six-year period, the Koch Foundation gave a whopping 59 thousand dollars, total to the Leadership Institute, in the form of two grants. Note that this is less than 10K a year out of a 15 million dollar budget, and that there is no indication that these grants were for Campus Reform. Surely the AAUP and its "academic freedom journal" could do better than this.

Where did the article point to any statistical data suggesting that Campus Reform is a project of the Koch brothers? It cited them as a funding source; but not the only funding source.

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