Conservative Intimidation Against Free Thought at the University of Michigan

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy Funding, a well funded conservative think tank based in Midland, Michigan has filed a series of requests for emails from University of Michigan Faculty, which reference contain words such as “Scott Walker,” “Wisconsin,” “Madison” and “Maddow.”

Aside from the obvious right wing slant of the center, a little searching will reveal that their financially endowed staff receives their livelihood from such charitable entities as Exxon, Chase, the Dow Family and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, started by former John Birch Society stalwart Harry Bradley along with the Koch Brothers.

The graphic to the left is from their website, which is absurd when you realize that most of their staff make more than $100K per year, just to run a website that, in the end, is no different from any of the blogs I read, whose writers get absolutely NOTHING. To top it off, I seriously doubt that they really care about anybody in any food bank line anywhere. In fact, I would assume that they would consider the poor an unemployed a drag on society. Whose side are these assholes on?

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation offers that “the overall objective of the Bradley Foundation, however, is to return the U.S. — and the world — to the days before governments began to regulate Big Business, before corporations were forced to make concessions to an organized labor force. In other words, laissez-faire capitalism: capitalism with the gloves off. To further this objective, Bradley supports the organizations and individuals that promote the deregulation of business, the rollback of virtually all social welfare programs, and the privatization of government services. “
I think it should be pretty clear what this group is about.

They claim that their FOIA requests are innocuous, but they obviously are not. Quoted from the Detroit News, “Some of the characterization was that we were attempting to stifle academic freedom, or to stifle the political biases of professors,” Braun said. “The fact that they have political opinions is not a big secret. The fact that they are using public resources to behave more like a political action committee than a teaching and research university (was the reason for the FOIA requests).

Wow, apparently politics are out at Universities now, unless of course academics preach the word of John Birch.

Of course the Mackinac Center is entitled to the FOIA requests, as any citizen is, but the goals of this group are clear. They feel that they are finally on the cusp of realizing their goals of total control over the US economy, dismantling things like child labor laws, occupational safety regulations, and the abolition of slavery. It’s obvious, that these new robber barons are scared shitless that the academic establishment will call them out for what they are and seek to intimidate public workers into silence.

Pol Pot did this. Mao did this. Mugabe did this. Kim Jong Il did this. McCarthy even did this. Intimidation of academics is nothing new. On the surface FOIA requests are fairly innocuous, but is this really the path anyone wants the country to go down? Let them request, let them slander, let them speak their minds, but let’s not hope that the academic establishment, or all free thinking Americans, ever fear of biting back against corporate sponsored intimidation. Let’s not be like NPR, who didn’t stick up for what was right at the time they should have.

When we become afraid, then truly all is lost.

About Pete Larson

Researcher at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. Lecturer in the University of Michigan School of Public Health and at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I do epidemiology, public health, GIS, health disparities and environmental justice. I also do music and weird stuff.

3 responses to “Conservative Intimidation Against Free Thought at the University of Michigan”

  1. Ferunando-desu says :

    Jeez Pete, what can i tell you, they need to at least learn a bit from Henry Ford, for capitalism to work people need to buy the goods they produce. People in the Kansai region realized that quite a while ago, that’s the reason Osaka never had that many samurais.

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