The John William Pope Foundation took issue with my recent blog “Reading Ayn Rand.” I’m always flattered that the Pope people read my blogs and think they’re important enough to take issue with, so I’m happy to post their comments. Note, however, that there is nothing here to change my basic point: The best way to protect college students against Ayn Rand’s thinking is to force them to read Ayn Rand’s writing.
The response is from David W. Riggs, Ph.D., Vice President, Operations and Programs, John William Pope Foundation:
“I was recently alerted to your “Reading Ayn Rand” post about a supposed Pope-related grant to Guilford College. In your post you link to the source of your information — an op-ed written by a professor at Guilford. The professor’s op-ed is false and misleading on at least two fronts. In an effort to clarify and correct, I sent the letter below to the professor, and CCed the president of Guilford College and the Guilfordian student newspaper.
“Dear Professor Zweigenhaft,
“Your column titled, “Guilford’s $500,000 Grant Part of a Conservative Agenda,” published in the Guilfordian, February 16, 2012, is false and misleading on at least two fronts. First, if you had actually read and understood Jane Mayer’s New Yorker piece from October 2011, you would know it reported that Art Pope and the organizations he supports did not utilize the precedent set by Citizens United. (Additionally, in terms of overall spending, the Democratic Party and its contributors out spent Republicans by millions, but still lost the 2010 election – a fact that is inconvenient to your narrative.)
“Second, you mention Art Pope and provide your characterization of his philanthropy while in the same breath mentioning a $500,000 grant to Guilford College. The reader is misled to believe that Art Pope or the John William Pope Foundation is somehow connected to the $500,000 grant. At least two websites have carried your misleading story about a Pope Foundation grant to Guilford.
“The Pope Foundation had no part, nor was ever aware, of any grant to Guilford College.
“You are free, of course, to quibble with faculty and Guilford administration on whatever choices they make for the school that employs you. However, in bringing Art Pope’s name or the Pope Foundation’s name into your academic infighting, you have deceivingly manufactured a boogeyman.
“When approached by colleges and universities to fund academic programs, the Pope Foundation has responded with millions of dollars in support of higher education. I am left wondering if you are simply an errant faculty member or if Guilford College has a policy of preemptively discouraging potential donors.”