Who’s Behind the Fascist Onslaught Against the Universities?

September 16, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


Ben Shapiro’s recent appearance at the University of California Berkeley was sponsored by a group calling itself “YAF.” YAF has promoted the spewing of white supremacist, misogynist, American chauvinist, and fascist bullshit on many university campuses, sponsoring appearances by Shapiro, Ann Coulter, David Horowitz, Robert Spencer, Newt Gingrich, Steve Forbes, and other public reactionaries.

YAF stands for “Young America’s Foundation” and also for “Young Americans for Freedom.” The former is the sponsoring group of the latter—they are the same cabal of fascists.

YAF has been feverishly promoting these fascists’ speeches in the name of “free speech.” But the truth is, as Sunsara Taylor has framed it, “This is not just about the ‘free expression of ideas’ disconnected from harmful societal consequences. This is the highly financed, highly publicized and highly protected dissemination of fascist ideas to serve a fascist regime, in which those who dare to oppose those ideas are threatened with the sharp edge of the state.” (See “Does ‘Free Speech’ TRUMP All Else? A Response to Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ.”)

The onslaught of campus appearances by reactionary and fascist speakers is part of an organized and orchestrated campaign by powerful forces in the U.S. ruling class to attack the campuses, shut down critical thinking, and reshape the universities.

YAF crows about its associations with Steve Bannon (who made promo films for YAF), Jefferson Beauregard Sessions (a former member), Ronald Reagan (former Honorary National Chairman), William F. Buckley (a founder), and a ghoul’s gallery of some of the major figures in the modern fascist movement in the U.S.

What is less visible in YAF’s propaganda is how they are funded. The Daily Californian, student newspaper and website at the University of California, Berkeley, did some research on this question that was published on the same day as Ben Shapiro’s September 14 hate speech at UC Berkeley.

The article stated:

[P]ublic financial returns obtained by The Daily Californian show that every year, YAF spends millions of dollars funding campus events such as Shapiro’s, propped up by tens of millions in annual donations from many wealthy, powerful foundations linked to prominent conservatives....

According to the nonprofit’s financial forms, YAF has spent about $54.3 million since 2005 on campus conference and lecture programs alone, with its most recent expense form showing costs of about $8.09 million in 2015.

Meanwhile, YAF has received about $124 million in gifts and donations since 2010. The vast majority of its total financial support relies on these donations from the public: In 2015, YAF received about $34.6 million in gifts, which encompassed nearly 98 percent of its total financial support.

The Daily Cal article, together with a May 20 article from the New York Times on YAF, details some of its elite financial underwriters.

Some of the largest and most prominent funders of YAF include:

  • Robert Ruhe, a wealthy orthodontist, who bequeathed $16 million to the group in 2013. With this windfall, YAF doubled its ability to prey on students with its poisonous message.
  • The billionaire Christian fascist owners of Amway, Richard and Helen DeVos (in-laws of Christian fascist Betsy DeVos, Trump’s secretary of education). In 1998, they gave YAF $10 million to purchase the Reagan Ranch. Between 2003-2012, the DeVos family donated another $15 million to YAF.
  • Charles and David Koch donated $20,000 and $50,000 respectively, to YAF. The Koch brothers are mega-capitalists who avidly fund reactionary causes, especially those that bolster their industrial and financial interests by denying the science of climate change.
  • Donald Rumsfeld, the war criminal secretary of “defense” under the Bush II regime, gave $20,000 in 2011-12.
  • Numerous unidentified patrons of fascism who donate through financial funnels such as Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust. These are two nonprofit funds connected with Koch family institutions. This kind of funding is a ploy used by donors who want to keep their financial gifts anonymous.

Trump eggs on the street thugs of the fascist movement—the KKK, Nazis, and Proud Boys who chanted Nazi slogans and murdered Heather Heyer in Charlottesville—and lies that they are “good people.”

But no one should be allowed to deceive themselves or others with the myth that the political and literary representatives of fascism arise from “the grassroots.” RefuseFascism.org has termed them the “intellectual thugs” for fascism. They are nurtured, paid for, and promoted by some of the most reactionary sections of the capitalist-imperialist ruling class in this country.



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