If A Pirate Wants To Donate $5 Million To Your “Liberal” Arts School, What Should You Do?

March 10, 2011, 4:00 am

“HARRGH!  We’re looking for University Relations! HARRGH!”

You might want to wonder if that pirate has a camera hidden in his blunderbuss before you say a word.  Whatever you do, don’t chat him up and think maybe once he really gets to know you he’ll build a Women’s Center instead of a Center for Swashbuckling Studies, because he could be a Republican in disguise.  Those little jokes about peglegs are going to be awfully embarassing once the Disabilities Studies folks see them in the New York Times.

I never thought I would have to give this career advice, but I would feel remiss if I did not do so at this moment in history.  In the wake of conservative activist James O’Keefe’s most recent effort to help defeat the thugs Republicans are saving our country from – women, the poor, and intellectuals — I just want to know: why did Schiller, the president of fund raising at NPR, not even have an inkling that two unknown “Muslims” who supposedly wanted to make a major gift were not a little shifty?  Had he never listened to his own radio station?  Did he not take in O’Keefe’s little scam that brought ACORN to its knees?  Or the little rumble he tried to cause over at Planned Parenthood by impersonating a donor who would give money only on the condition that underage girls and as many black women as possible would be provided with abortions?

Here’s the deal, for you other folks who have been living under a rock for the past year.  O’Keefe sets up embarrassing scenarios that feature liberal groups. He then records them secretly to demonstrate what conservative activists “already know” — that liberals are lying, law-breaking hypocrites.  Of course, the videos and audio recordings often have to be edited to actually produce the “evidence,” but no matter. Then mainstream conservative Republicans leap on the bandwagon and demand hearings to express their outrage that a single government dollar goes to these organizations (as opposed to the many federal dollars that go to homophobic religious organizations and schools, for example.)  O’Keefe also has connections to the Leadership Institute, Morton Blackwell’s organization that trains conservative youth (who, in turn, developed the affirmative action bake sale strategy recently used at Zenith by other students affiliated with LI.)  O’Keefe was also arrested for trying to bug U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu’s telephone.

The latest O’Keefe special involves unveiling NPR as a moral cesspool and a wealthy organization that is fleecing the taxpayer.  It is timed to coincide with the annual pledge drive, as well as the debate in Congress provoked by House Republicans zeroing out what budget remains to support public broadcasting.  O’Keefe hired two people who claimed to be representatives of a Muslim organization.  They arranged to meet with Schiller  in a Georgetown restaurant claiming they are interested in giving $5 million to public radio. “The heavily edited video,” according to the AP account in Salon,

shows Schiller and another NPR executive, Betsy Liley, meeting at a pricey restaurant in Washington’s Georgetown neighborhood with two men claiming to be part of a Muslim organization. The men offer NPR a $5 million donation. NPR said Tuesday it was “repeatedly pressured” to accept a $5 million check, which the organization “repeatedly refused.”

“The current Republican Party is not really the Republican Party. It’s been hijacked by this group that is … not just Islamophobic but, really, xenophobic,” Schiller said in the video, referring to the tea party movement. “They believe in sort of white, middle America, gun-toting — it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people.”

Part of what I find puzzling about this is, while it wasn’t a smart thing to say, it is at least an arguable point of view with some basis on the truth.  Schiller didn’t even say it on air.  Rush Limbaugh says something whacko and false about every ninety seconds right on his own radio show and nobody really seems to give a good G-d damn.  Schiller isn’t even a journalist:  he’s a fund-raiser.

So what was the big deal?

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