A Deeper Look Into the UNC Fiasco

Almost every single time I start checking out some flashy new Conservative organization, it ends up being a "Seven Degrees of Sarah Scaife" game. Which is one of the huge foundations that fund various right-wing "think-tanks" that peddle corporate misinformation, like the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation. In this case, it only takes about four degrees to connect the dots between these mega-funders and the new "student organization" that has plunged UNC Chapel Hill into controversy lately, the Youth for Western Civilization.

The middle dot in this connection is the Leadership Institute out of Arlington Virginia:

The Leadership Institute's mission is to identify, recruit, train, and place conservatives in politics, government, and the media.

The head guru of this indoctrination facility (they actually have a dorm) is Morton Blackwell, who's been training future Conservative leaders like Karl Rove for decades. He was also a co-founder of Moral Majority, a close associate of the DeVos family, and is the Chairman of the Virginia Republican National Committee.

If there are any UNC administrators reading this, please pay close attention to this Salon article from 2005:

The structure of Blackwell's Campus Leadership Program is simple. The Leadership Institute trains promising conservative college graduates over the summer and dispatches them to campuses in the fall with a mandate to start conservative student organizations. Need $500 and some ideas to start a combative right-wing campus publication? The institute would love to help you. Is the campus administration discriminating against your Second Amendment club? The institute will help you take your cause to the Internet. No one on campus at your Christian college has ever heard of the institute? Staffers will be glad to drive down, take you to a steakhouse, and talk it up. Last year, the CLP doubled in size, to 418 clubs and counting. By the end of 2006, Blackwell is confident he will have created 1,000 conservative campus organizations.

Unlike chapter-based political organizations, CLP clubs are unaffiliated with either the Leadership Institute or each other. According to Blackwell, this trait offers a serious advantage: "No purges." The clubs' independence also comes with the benefit of plausible deniability. "You can get away with stuff that you would take a lot of flak for doing in the College Republicans," says CLP director Dan Flynn. "Because we're independent, we can do activities that push the envelope," agrees University of Miami senior Sarah Canale, whose CLP-organized Advocates for Conservative Thought threw an affirmative action bake sale last year in which the price of a cupcake varied according to the race of its buyer. That it was controversial, she believes, was a victory in itself.

The Leadership Institute teaches the same principle. Controlled controversy -- making your point in a manner so bombastic that your opponents blow their cool -- is a Blackwell specialty.

Sound familiar? Do you understand now, Chancellor Thorp? You're not dealing with a free speech issue, you're dealing with kids who have been recruited and trained by an organization to bring about exactly what happened.

** Nix previous self-righteous tirade. It appears the six who were arrested at the Virgil Goode speech were not students or faculty, they were adults living in the area who went there to protest/disrupt. There's already too much off-campus influence at play here, and the students need to be left alone so they can work this out in their own way.**

If you're still not convinced, let's look at the Leadership Institute's financial statement, which shows that, for last year alone, they spent $4,605,859 on their Campus Leadership Program:

The National Field Program identifies and recruits conservative students on college campuses and helps them organize independent conservative groups and publications.

These independent groups and publications fight back against the radical leftists who dominate the faculty, administration, and campus life at the majority of American colleges.

Here's a few snippets from their blog:

The Leadership Institute's Deputy Field Director, Kevin DeAnna, is the founder of Youth for Western Civilization.

The Youth for Western Civilization (YWC) chapter at UNC Chapel Hill, a Campus Leadership Program group, brought Tom Tancredo to speak on campus on April 14, 2009.

And if you're still not convinced the Leadership Institute is directly responsible for your recent troubles, how about some proof that there was a financial incentive involved?

LI offers conservative groups a chance to showcase their campus activism skills as they compete with other groups for a Conservative Campus Activism Scholarship Award.

First Place is $2,000, Second Place is $1,000, and Third Place is $500. And if you look at a few of the questions asked on the application for said award, you'll get an idea of what they expect from the winners:

6. Was their any opposition from other students, campus police or faculty? How did you respond?

7. What did your group do to earn media coverage?

That pretty much sums it up. What happened at UNC was not a fluke or an aberration of student behavior, it was an event orchestrated from without by powerful people with an agenda. And I have a feeling this story is far from over.


"youth for western civilization"?

...there is no way that could possibly be the name of a group representing any youth, anywhere...unless that's the ironically chosen name of a band (see: "squirrel nut zippers").

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

I have a feeling the name of the group

is somehow related to this controversy from five years ago:

The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy says critics of a proposed "Studies in Western Cultures" minor at the University of North Carolina--to be funded by the center's benefactor, the John William Pope Foundation--are "fearful radicals." But faculty who wrote the proposal are among those asking university administrators to take a stronger stand against the Pope Center's attacks on UNC curriculum. Reid Barbour, chair of the committee that developed the "Studies in Western Cultures" proposal, says he is proud of his team's work, but is uncomfortable with the donors' ties to the Pope Center.

The Pope Center has also been outspoken about what it says is a lack of attention to the teaching of Western Civilization at UNC as compared to multiculturalism. Since word of the proposed Pope-funded curriculum in Western Cultures broke last month, faculty and students have voiced concerns that allowing a political critic of the university to pay for changes in the curriculum will harm the school's academic integrity.

"The Pope Center is attacking members of our faculty with hostility, and I want it to stop," he says. "I would like to see the administration go to the Popes and ask for the attacks to stop or for the Popes to distance themselves" from those attacks.

I see the Puppetshow's ghost fingerprints all over the creation of a "Western Civilization" student group at UNC. And you better believe I spent some time last night trying to find a link. But if it's there, it's buried pretty deep.

when you see reid barbour...

...and haley barbour's name pops right up in my mind...i can imagine that you would be looking for a connection.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

Great job, Steve

Another astroturf organization with lots of expensive little sock puppets out there drumming up the frenzy.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Well said

This sort of investigation shows the best of BlueNC.

50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts


To both of you. I...don't know why I didn't think to thank you before. Must be getting old. ;)

Glad to see good content 'round these parts.

Is this on Kos yet?

I always wanted to be the avenging cowboy hero—that lone voice in the wilderness, fighting corruption and evil wherever I found it, and standing for freedom, truth and justice. - Bill Hicks

Not yet

I'm still trying to figure out the optimum day of the week/time of the day to post there, so the diary doesn't get run off the screen in twenty minutes. ;/

p.s.: thanks for the compliment, pal. :)

if i might suggest...

...5 am est is a good time to put up a story at kos; and, surprisingly, so is 2 am, as it attracts a substantial group of "night owls" and the stories hang for a longer period of time.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965


The Pope Foundation gave $30,000 to the Leadership Institute in FY 07-08, $30,000 in FY 06-07, $50,000 in FY 05-06

Thanks, Greg

That definitely could have been related to this. I know Civitas used them for a breakfast thingie at last Fall's Conservative Leadership Conference, but the breakfast was supposedly sponsored by the Leadership Institute, which I took to mean they paid for it. I'm sure there's some back-scratchin' goin' on there.

Thanks, kiddo

I meant to say that sooner, but I'm an idiot. ;)

Black Pope?

The Pope Foundation gave $30,000 to the Leadership Institute in FY 07-08, $30,000 in FY 06-07, $50,000 in FY 05-06* Greg

I hate it when you expose my dots and dresses to me!


"The Leadership Institute teaches the same principle. Controlled controversy -- making your point in a manner so bombastic that your opponents blow their cool -- is a Blackwell specialty"

They tricked the poor, hapless protestors into disrupting a program and breaking a window?

This reminds me of commercials I have seen for a new TV show called "Bait Car." Cops leave a car sitting out in the open often with the keys in the ignition. They wait for someone to steal the car and then arrest them. The police don't force people to steal the cars.

Unless you are saying that the protestors themselves were undercover conservative plants, what's the big deal? If there was bait, they took it and behaved badly. I'd be embarassed to complain about this too much as it just proves college students are gullible and easily subject to indoctrination. It would seem to only strengthen the need for "balance" of idealogies on campus.

What is my point?

For one thing, it's to make sure UNC officials aren't taking steps based on faulty logic or a lack of understanding. Like this statement about sponsorship:

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill police arrested six people tonight (April 22) on charges of disorderly conduct during an appearance by Virgil Goode, a former Virginia Congressman, sponsored by an officially recognized student group, Youth for Western Civilization.

Just like Tancredo, Virgil Goode was likely compensated by the Leadership Institute through its $3,000 speaker grants. Unless I'm mistaken, any type of funding for "officially recognized" entities on the UNC campus is supposed to be closely monitored by the University administration. Apparently it's not.

I have to side with SPLib on

I have to side with SPLib on this one. I appreciate the article -- understanding the funding behind the group and the organization behind the funding is extremely useful. But you lose me when you say:

Before I continue, let me state clearly and succinctly that those students who were arrested should have their charges dropped, like yesterday. Both they and one of the most prestigious schools in the world have been manipulated.

Actions have consequences, plain and simple. If you believe so strongly in a position that you are willing to protest loudly, disrupt and smash windows, you should be willing to suffer the consequences of protesting, disrupting and smashing windows.

My opinion on the arrests

is that they were an effort by the UNC administration to head off what they viewed as a possible "alarming trend" in student behavior. Which I can understand. But as I believe I've demonstrated in this diary, that "trend" (if there is one) did not originate with the students, it was successfully engineered from without.

And you're right: if you wanna' dance, you gotta' be ready to pay the band. But if these arrests were made from the assumption that one side wanted "no trouble" while the other side wanted "trouble", then that was a false assumption and should be recognized as such.

But if these arrests were

But if these arrests were made from the assumption that one side wanted "no trouble" while the other side wanted "trouble", then that was a false assumption and should be recognized as such.

Perhaps, but breaking glass is generally a good indicator of trouble. Besides, as anyone who grew up with siblings (younger or older) can tell you: the one who gets provoked into action is usually the one who suffers the consequences.

Ha! I was about to say the same thing

Only I was going to say..."as a parent." I've told my daughters that it doesn't matter who does something first if you're the one who gets caught reacting. I don't agree with Steve that these students shouldn't be punished. They aren't two years old and quite frankly, most of us would at least speak in a stern voice to a two year old who throws a a rock and breaks a window. They are old enough to be in control of their actions and reactions and should pay the price if their actions violate the law or university rules.

However, I don't want this one point of disagreement to overshadow the importance of the dots he connected in the piece.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

It looks like they weren't students

I've tried to find any connection with each other or a group, but the six arrested during the Virgil Goode event were apparently off-campus agitators:

Thursday afternoon, Chapel Hill Police announced the names of the six people arrested for disorderly conduct. Police said none of the people arrested Wednesday were students or employees of the university:

• Meredith Ann Dickey, 18, Raleigh
• Michael Bandes, 25, Orange County
• Sarah Monica Johnson, 25, Raleigh
• Jack Wilson Groves, 18, Raleigh
• Donald George Yeo, 30, Carrboro
• Rachel Harris, 22, Orange County

I'll fix the diary to reflect this, and I appreciate the folks who spoke their minds here. It forced me to do something I should have already done, which is take a closer look at who got arrested and why.

Shouldn't We be doing the same thing!

Whats wrong with these tink tanks doing what they are doing. Isn't that part of our problem. That we aren't as organized enough and that we don't promote Progressive Candidates. At least they know what they want. We don't have a clue. We will take anyone and everyone that claims they are Democrat. That is cool for Party Membership and maybe even for local offices like Mayors and City Council. But when it comes to State Leadership like the General Assembly or National Leadership like Congress. We need to

to identify, recruit, train, and place conservatives in politics, government

Replace Conservatives with Progressives!

I don't have a problem with that. We need more Organizations that will actively engage in doing so and WE NEED TO SUPPORT THEM!

Anthony D. Hall,

Fighting for Truth, Justice, Freedom and the American Way!

I've said it once and I've said it again

The culprits in the Tancredo fiasco were the campus police. They failed in every way to do their jobs.

And if anyone should have been arrested, it should have been Tancredo himself ... he is the person who initiated physical confrontation by grabbing the banner held by the protesting students.

All that said, score two for Art Pope's Magical Opinion Manufacturing Machine. They got everything they wanted from these events, including a completed cowered university administration.