Larry Hosken. Technical writer. Puzzlehunt enthusiast.
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Steve Bannon’s Tall Tale About How He Visited Pakistan in the Navy and Saw the Muslim Threat

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If you ask Steve Bannon how he got the idea that Muslims in the Middle East are a civilizational threat to America, he will say that his eyes were first opened when he served on a Navy destroyer in the Arabian Sea. At least that’s what he told the journalist Joshua Green, whose new book about President Donald Trump’s senior counselor is a best-seller.


“It was not hard to see, as a junior officer, sitting there, that [the threat] was just going to be huge,” Bannon said. He went on:

We’d pull into a place like Karachi, Pakistan – this is 1979, and I’ll never forget it – the British guys came on board, because they still ran the port. The city had 10 million people at the time. We’d get out there, and 8 million of them had to be below the age of fifteen. It was an eye-opener. We’d been other places like the Philippines where there was mass poverty. But it was nothing like the Middle East. It was just a complete eye-opener. It was the other end of the earth.

That’s Bannon’s version. There are a few problems with it, however.

The port of Karachi was not run by the British in 1979. Karachi, which is the commercial hub of Pakistan, had a population that was well short of 10 million (it was about half that) and is not usually considered part of the Middle East. But the biggest problem is that the destroyer Bannon served on, the USS Paul F. Foster, never visited Karachi while Bannon was aboard.


This map shows the path of the USS Paul F. Foster during its 1979-1980 deployment in the Pacific Ocean and Arabian Sea.

Image: 1979-1980 Cruisebook for the USS Paul F. Foster

Six sailors who served on the Foster with Bannon told The Intercept that the vessel did not stop at Karachi during its 1979-1980 deployment. The recollections of these enlisted men and officers are supported by the ship’s deck logs, which show no stop on the way to the Arabian Sea and are available to the public at the National Archives. And a map of the Foster’s port calls that was published in its “cruisebook” shows stops in Hawaii, Guam, the Philippines, Christmas Island, Hong Kong, and Singapore — but not Karachi.

It turns out that Bannon, who has drawn a large amount of criticism for his exclusionary stances on race, religion, and immigration, has also inaccurately described his military service, simultaneously creating an erroneous narrative of how he came to an incendiary anti-Muslim worldview that helps shape White House policy.

It’s not clear whether Bannon’s account of visiting Karachi is an intentional fabrication or a false memory that reflects his subconscious fears, or something else entirely. Whatever the reason, it raises a lot of questions. Bannon did not respond to several inquiries from The Intercept. A close friend of Bannon’s who is in regular contact with him, and spoke on the condition of not being named, said Bannon had not read Green’s book and that the quotes attributed to him had not been checked with him. Green, the author, told The Intercept that the interview with Bannon occurred in 2015 and was recorded and transcribed.

The news of Bannon’s problematic narrative comes at a delicate time for the former executive chairman of Breitbart News, which under his leadership produced incessant streams of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim stories. Bannon’s Navy service has always been deeply relevant to his work at the White House because it has been used as a reason for giving him influence on military affairs that his critics believe he does not merit. Bannon reportedly has a tense relationship with the retired generals who occupy key positions in the Trump administration – Chief of Staff John Kelly, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and particularly National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that McMaster has been waging a campaign to cleanse the National Security Council of Bannon’s allies, and that the two men have argued about Afghanistan policy.

In January, when a controversial presidential order gave Bannon a full seat on the principals committee of the NSC, the White House cited his service in the Navy, where he was a junior officer for seven years with two deployments, first to the Pacific in 1978, the second to the Pacific and the Arabian Sea in 1979-1980. “He is a former naval officer,” said White House spokesman Sean Spicer at the time. “He’s got a tremendous understanding of the world and the geopolitical landscape. … Having the chief strategist for the president in those meetings who has a significant military background to help make — guide — what the president’s final analysis is going to be, is crucial.” In April, after being heavily criticized for putting Bannon on the NSC, Trump withdrew the full seat, though Bannon reportedly continues to attend meetings as a visitor.

Fishing boats stopped fishing on April 22, 1976 to pay their annual homage to their patron saint,  the goddess of the sea Tin Hua, on "Heavenly Peace." The colorful ceremony is held annually on the 23rd day of the third moon of the Lunar calendar.  (AP Photo)

This photo from the 1970s shows fishing boats in Hong Kong, which unlike Karachi, the USS Paul F. Foster visited while Steve Bannon was aboard.

Photo: AP

The falsehood about Karachi is not the only questionable statement Bannon made to Green about his military service. Bannon may have exaggerated his active-duty encounters with Iran. In the early months of 1980, Bannon was on board the Foster when, for about a month or less, it patrolled in the Gulf of Oman in the military run-up to the botched effort to rescue the American hostages who had been seized at the U.S. embassy in Tehran. A portion of Iran’s coastline is on the Gulf of Oman.

“The only way I can describe Iran,” Bannon told Green, “is that it looked like the moon. You’re literally months away from home, steaming across the ocean, these vast expanses, you get to this place and it was like you’d landed on the moon. It was like the fifth century – completely primeval.”

There are two apparent problems with Bannon’s description of Iran.

The first is that Iran in 1980 was anything but fifth-century primeval. Its per capita income was about $2,500, making it a mid-ranking country at the time, thanks to its oil reserves. Iran’s major cities were fairly well developed. Although it had large stretches of lightly populated territory and still does, Iran wasn’t the moon or even Mongolia. Lots of developed countries have large stretches of empty land — people tend to cluster in urban areas that occupy relatively little national territory.

But another potential problem with Bannon’s Iran story is that from the bridge of the Foster, where he served as a navigator, it would have been difficult at most times to see Iran with any clarity, according to several officers who served on the ship. The Foster cruised in international waters as an escort to the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier, usually at least a dozen miles away from Iran, the officers said, and that was too far away to see anything with ordinary binoculars.

The Foster was equipped with what’s known as “Big Eyes” on the signals deck above the bridge — high-powered binoculars that are so big they are physically mounted on a ship, usually on a tripod. It was not part of a navigator’s job to use the Big Eyes, according to the officers, but even if a navigator ascended to the signals deck to take a leisurely look, not much could be seen from such a distance.

Bannon’s own narrative about how he came to fear Muslims is politically important. He is one of the most openly anti-Muslim officials in Trump’s chaotic entourage and is reported to have overseen the drafting of the controversial Muslim travel bans that Trump issued in his first weeks in office. The fact that a key part of Bannon’s narrative is invented would seem to suggest that his anti-Muslim views come from a different place that is perhaps darker than what he is comfortable sharing with the public.

In fact, there is an embarrassing hint, in what Bannon told Green, that he wittingly or unwittingly transferred to Karachi a crowded scene he had witnessed in an entirely different port while he served on the Foster: Hong Kong. Bannon told Green that he vividly recalled how “the British guys came on board, because they still ran the port” — which wasn’t true for Karachi at the time but was true for Hong Kong, which was under British rule when Bannon visited it.

According to two officers who spoke to The Intercept, it was ordinary during port visits to Hong Kong for a British official, or several of them, to come aboard to inform the ship of the logistics of the port, or as a social courtesy. As an above-deck officer, Bannon would have been in the areas where the visiting British officials were welcomed, and probably would have seen them.

If this is the case, Bannon’s narrative of seeing a vast Muslim crowd in the Middle East and sensing the threat these people and their religion would pose to America falls apart in a different and perhaps more embarrassing way than sheer fabrication. The crowds he would have seen in Hong Kong — which, according to crew members I talked with, was indeed overflowing with Chinese at the time, many of them quite poor — were overwhelmingly not Muslim (only a small number of Chinese are Muslim), and certainly not Middle Eastern.

It seems possible that Bannon may have consciously or subconsciously transposed the non-Muslim crowd he saw in Hong Kong and turned it into a Muslim crowd he did not see in Karachi. This raises the question of whether Bannon’s underlying anxiety arises less from a threat purportedly presented by Muslims and more from a general anxiety about non-white foreigners, whether Muslim or Buddhist or any religion.

The post Steve Bannon’s Tall Tale About How He Visited Pakistan in the Navy and Saw the Muslim Threat appeared first on The Intercept.

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5 days ago
San Francisco, USA
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Register soon for The Hunt for Justice!

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Hunt for Justice logoPuzzle hunts come and go. This year, new additions include the Cambridge Puzzle Hunt and Galactic Puzzleball, though the MUMS hunt has had a year off. I long enjoyed reading about the epic weekend-long van-based hunts in the United States, and it doesn’t seem like the people who have made them over the years feel the same need to create them any more. However, the desire to create puzzle events is still there; it’s just that the focus these days seems to be to place them on the Internet where the whole world can play, not just people who happen to be in the right place at the right time. Sounds like a very practical step to me!

The Hunt for Justice is an upcoming online puzzle hunt that will take part on Saturday 21st October. The hunt will nominally take place between 1pm and 9pm Eastern, which works out at 6pm UK time Saturday 21st to 2am UK time Sunday 22nd time. (Both countries will still be celebrating daylight savings time, though not for long afterwards.) In truth, the puzzles will be available afterwards, but live support and puzzle answer nudges will be available during those hours. Experienced teams may well be able to complete the hunt in five hours or so.

The most distinguishing feature of the hunt is that teams participate online from the location of their choice, but they will be sent a box of props and physical artifacts in advance of the hunt starting which may be used during some of the puzzles. Accordingly, there is a charge to take part, which covers the cost of producing and sending out the box of props, but also covers a donation to the Innocence Project charity. The charge is US$80 for teams in the US and US$90 for teams requiring international postage. Team size is unlimited, but teams of 2-4 are recommended. Theoretically you could have a team spread over more than one location, by registering two smaller teams who each receive their own box of props and have these smaller teams work together.

The line-up of people responsible for putting the hunt together is impressive. They have extensive organising and writing credits for Puzzled Pint and local in-person hunts as well. The team compare their hunt to DASH in terms of style and difficulty – or, more precisely, a relatively tricky year’s DASH, for there has been plenty of volatility from year to year. You’ll get nine puzzles and a metapuzzle for your money.

I’m really excited about The Hunt for Justice in a way that I haven’t been for the other hunts because it has been designed to take place in a single long session – a good night’s entertainment for a team – rather than being something that hangs over a period of several days and invites you to spend an indefinite period of time over the course of a week or so. That sort of format will suit some teams better; I’m particularly attracted to this format. Registration closes August 1st, so you have only just over a week to register. Less than three months to wait!

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26 days ago
San Francisco, USA
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EPA’s New Water Safety Official Is a Lobbyist With Deep Ties to the Dakota Access Pipeline

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Dennis Lee Forsgren, a former lobbyist recently tapped to lead the Environmental Protection Agency office in charge of water safety, has deep ties to a fossil fuel advocacy group engaged in the promotion of the Dakota Access Pipeline as well as controversial offshore drilling efforts.

The appointment signals a victory for industrial opponents of clean water regulations. The department that Forsgren will now help oversee, the EPA’s Office of Water, is in charge of implementing the landmark Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts passed in the early seventies. In that capacity it studies the toxic effects of fracking on groundwater safety, the downstream consequences of industrial pollutants, and the environmental impact of oil spills.

Before arriving at the EPA, Forsgren was an attorney for HBW Resources, a fossil fuel lobbying firm known for orchestrating campaigns on behalf of industry clients.

The public-facing side of Forsgren’s lobbying firm is the Consumer Energy Alliance, an astroturf advocacy organization managed by HBW Resources that works aggressively to build support for contentious oil and gas projects around the country.

CEA portrays itself as the “voice of the energy consumer,” providing “sound, unbiased information on U.S. and global energy issues.” However, tax filings show that the organization shares office space in Houston with HBW Resources, HBW’s staff simultaneously serve as CEA’s staff members, HBW is registered to lobby for CEA, and CEA transfers the bulk of its funding to HBW for “management” fees.

Moreover, the group relies heavily on funding from the corporate interests which benefit the most from their advocacy. The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, the trade group for the nation’s largest oil refineries, provided significant financing to CEA. Energy Transfer Partners, the company responsible for building the Dakota Access pipeline, is listed as a corporate member of CEA.

CEA played a significant role in the energy industry’s attempt to build support for the Keystone XL, sponsoring a study on the economic benefits of the pipeline, providing draft letters used by members of Congress to endorse it, and setting up a special website to mobilize thousands of petitions to pressure the State Department to approve the project.

Similar tactics were deployed by the CEA and HBW to win support for offshore drilling efforts stalled because of public backlash. Letters filed with regulators in support of Shell Oil during its bid to drill for oil and gas in the Arctic used language provided by CEA. In another case, metadata from a letter signed by several governors in support of drilling efforts in the Atlantic Ocean off the Eastern Seaboard revealed that a staffer with HBW had authored the document.

Over the last year, CEA and HBW have worked to build approval for the Dakota Access pipeline, which would bring fracked oil from North Dakota to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

In 2016, the group launched a campaign called “Pipelines for America,” which included grassroots events and advertisements designed to push back against growing opposition to the Dakota Access. The group also appeared in the media to sharply criticize protests at Standing Rock, the encampment for activists opposed to the Dakota Access. David Holt, the president of both HBW and CEA, was quoted last fall claiming that Standing Rock protesters have no interest in “protecting the environment” and are instead motivated by an interest in “shutting down the American economy.”

In response to the decision by President Donald Trump to approve pipeline projects delayed by the previous administration, Holt issued a statement stating, “CEA has strongly supported both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines for many years and we enthusiastically applaud President Trump’s decision today to move ahead with these long-delayed projects.”

The deputy assistant administrator of the Office of Water, the position awarded to Forsgren, does not require Senate confirmation, meaning that he can start his job right away. The announcement was made through an EPA staff email obtained by The Intercept.

As we’ve reported, the EPA under Administrator Scott Pruitt has become the perhaps the greatest nexus for industry influence in the entire Trump administration.

The official tapped to lead the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Nancy Beck, is a former chemical industry lobbyist. Susan Bodine, nominated to lead the EPA’s enforcement office, previously worked as a lobbyist for industrial paper and forestry clients cited for hundreds of EPA violations. Justin Schwab, appointed as a senior attorney at the EPA, previously worked for utility industry interest to oppose the EPA’s climate change regulations. Even the EPA’s new legislative outreach staff includes a former industry lobbyist who worked previously for a power plant trade group tasked with repealing the EPA’s Clean Air Act rules.

The EPA did not respond to a request for comment about whether Forsgren has signed an ethics waiver, and if he will recuse himself from any issues related to HBW or CEA advocacy.

In recent months, the EPA’s Office of Water has been busy dealing with the lead-poisoning water scandal in Flint, Michigan, as well as complying with President Trump’s executive order to help find “existing regulations that could be repealed, replaced or modified to make them less burdensome.”

Top photo: Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their supporters opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) confront bulldozers working on the new oil pipeline in an effort to make them stop near Cannon Ball, North Dakota on September 3, 2016.

The post EPA’s New Water Safety Official Is a Lobbyist With Deep Ties to the Dakota Access Pipeline appeared first on The Intercept.

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48 days ago
San Francisco, USA
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I’m not sure what I am looking forRachmones.Duboce @ Mission St...

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I’m not sure what I am looking for


Duboce @ Mission St in San Francisco, Ca

See her other art there

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82 days ago
San Francisco, USA
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The Marine Firemen’s Union Hall is being sold.

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The Marine Firemen’s Union building sits on the western side of Second Street, an appropriate direction given the union’s relationship with the Pacific Ocean. Second Street itself tips ever so slightly up as it intersects with Folsom. This angle is probably all that’s left of the vertiginous sand dunes clumped around the foot of Market Street in the 19th century. After the dunes were dismantled, boarding houses sprung up in their place, housing men who worked on the docks and in the ships berthed at the Embarcadero, back when it was a working waterfront.

The union, formed in 1883, is formally known as the Pacific Coast Marine Firemen, Oilers, Watertenders and Wipers Association. MFOWW (pronounced em-fau) moved to their current location sixty years ago. Today, the building sits on a large lot next to Linkedin, a hiring hall of another kind, minus the collective action for higher wages and better working conditions. The union is preparing for another move.

“We’re selling the building,” Ivy “Cajun” Callais told me. Callais, who lives in Alameda, told me that once the building was sold, the union would move operations to Seattle. “All the jobs are in the Port of Oakland now, anyway,” he said.

Asked if the building will be torn down, he nodded his head. “The air above it is worth more than the building, honey.” Callais, who still has a southern drawl—“I’ve been here since 1964 and haven’t lost it”—is happy the building isn’t under the confines of historic protection. “We have to sell it before that happens. We couldn’t afford it. All that work we’d need to do. It’d bankrupt us.” The building was described by the Chronicle in 1957 as a “shiny, new … marble-faced construction” and cost $800,000 to build. It’s anyone’s guess how much the parcel will sell for. Millions of dollars is a safe bet: the building, which sits on 21,396 square feet, was last assessed at $1,057,237. Callais was proud of the building and its construction even as he predicted its demise. “This building was built with the best materials. You see that wood?”

Interior shot of the Marine Fireman’s Union hall, 240 Second Street, San Francisco, CA

The building is home to two other unions: The National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians–Communications Workers of America and The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. Both unions possess the same sort of mouth-busting moniker made manageable by the phonetic pronunciation of their acronyms, NABET and IATSE (pronounced eye-at-see). The building also houses two prized works of art. A bas-relief sculpture is mounted above the entrance. Made by Olof Carl Malmquist, the noted sculptor whose work was scattered throughout the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island, the sculpture shows marine firemen inside the boiler room of a ship.

Olaf Carl Malmquist’s unnamed bas-relief sculpture above the entrance to the Marine Fireman’s Union hiring hall, at 240 Second Street, San Francisco, CA

Inside the hiring hall hangs a mural created by the famed sculptor and muralist Lucienne Bloch. It depicts shipping products and their places of origin throughout the Pacific region. The marine themed mural is charming and whimsical, complete with a mermaid and a jellyfish. Noticeably absent from it are images of men toiling over boilers in the guts of the huge ships that carried them from port to port. Bloch, who created five murals in San Francisco between the years 1956- 1963, is famous for photographing Diego Rivera’s mural “Man At The Crossroads” just moments before it was destroyed on orders given by the thin-skinned capitalist Nelson Rockefeller.

Lucienne Blochs’ mural, inside the Marine Fireman’s Union hiring hall, at 240 Second Street, San Francisco, CA.

The building has other historic features too, namely lead and asbestos, elements nobody wants to preserve. According to Callais, the building is full of both. “Look at your feet. See that tile?” he asked rhetorically. “That’s what you’re standin’ on. Asbestos. It’s up there, too,” he said, pointing skyward. These are problems the union doesn’t have the money to solve.

“You hear the media talkin’ about corrupt union officials, embezzlin’ and gettin’ paid too much. Well, let me tell you about this job, darlin’,” Callais explained in his languorous drawl. “If I didn’t draw social security, I couldn’t afford to work here.” He mused on the stability that union wages used to bring to San Francisco. “I could get you a job being a wiper—you know what that is? It’s simple.” He mimed wiping a surface. “I could get you a job doing that, and you’d make a better living than me.”

He remembered a time, after the Vietnam war, when members of the union and “casuals” or non-members, would line up outside the door. “There were jobs in those days,” he said “Some of the casuals, they’d go to Shelley’s bar up there at the corner, and wait. And if at the end of the day, there were still jobs to be filled, jobs the members didn’t want, the dispatcher’d go to bar, walk up to a guy and ask him if he wanted the job. And if that man hesitated, why the dispatcher’d walk to another man and ask him. If you wanted a job, you had to say so. Couldn’t hesitate. There was always a man wanting to work.”

These days, the big hall is often empty, although it is still open. “People still get jobs here,” he said. According to the union’s secretary treasurer, the union’s combined assets totaled $2.6 million. MFFOW had 430 active members and dispatched a total of 1,909 jobs in 2016. He thanked me for stopping in—“take all the pictures you want!”—and handed me some newsletters to read. The April 13 issue of “The Marine Fireman” touted the “hundreds” of new jobs coming to the Port of Oakland and announced the newest advance in the shipping trade: automation. The headline read “Danish researchers excited about prospect of unmanned ships.” Before leaving, I’d asked Callais what he thought of the economy. He paused. “The minute the US loses its shipping trade, well,” he said, “that’s the day the US is finished.”

The view from the dispatcher’s desk inside the Marine Fireman’s Union hiring hall at 240 Second Street, San Francisco, CA

“Immigrants and native-born workers wash against each other all the time in the California economy, like the tides moving in and out of the bay beneath the Golden Gate, coming together, only to be pushed apart by powerful forces.
The difference between metaphor and reality is that water and tides are not sentient. Workers are conscious and capable of changing direction together  if the current in which they find themselves is not to their benefit or liking.”
From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Labor Movement
Fred B. Glass, University of California Press

* Consider ordering not only Fred’s book but “The San Francisco Labor Landmarks Guide Book” as well. It’s edited by Catherine Powell, director of the Labor Archives and Research Center and can be purchased here:


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89 days ago
San Francisco, USA
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There’s a well-funded campus industry behind the Ann Coulter incident

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There’s a well-funded campus industry behind the Ann Coulter incident

A leaflet in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

In a classic case of “heads I win, tails you lose,” conservative provocateur Ann Coulter emerged from last week’s events at the University of California at Berkeley as a free-speech martyr. Although Coulter and her sponsors — the Berkeley chapter of the College Republicans, local donors and a national organization called Young America’s Foundation — complained about the unfairness of the situation, they actually won by gaining attention from the fallout.

Political provocation designed to agitate and attract the attention of the media is one long-standing style for well-funded conservative collegians, as my co-author Kate Wood and I showed in our 2013 book, “Becoming Right: How Campuses Shape Young Conservatives.” Some conservative campus organizations and actors favor a more erudite style of political discussion and are mildly horrified by events that are intended to cause shock and disagreement. However, others — which are often very well funded — thrive on confrontation.

There’s a lot of organization behind events like those last week

For decades, a handful of organizations has been working in the trenches with conservative college students to stage events such as Coulter’s. With their emphasis on conservative victimhood and liberal indoctrination, these organizations have fostered right-leaning student activism and suspicion about higher education, which have created fertile soil in which larger-scale political attacks on higher education germinate and grow.

Young America’s Foundation (YAF) is the largest and most prominent of these organizations. A tax-exempt organization founded in the late 1960s, YAF boasted more than $59 million in assets in 2014, according to the latest available tax forms on the Media Matters website, and had expenditures of $23 million that same year. YAF’s annual expenditures include organizing campus speaking tours for conservative celebrities such as Ted Nugent, Dinesh D’Souza, David Horowitz and Coulter. When not sending speakers to the nation’s campuses, YAF brings conservative students to it, at regional and national conferences every year.

YAF fuels a provocative style for what one of our interviewees called “Average Joe” college students. Enticed by slogans depicting faculty as “tree-hugging, gun-taking, wealth-hating, and leftist-loving,” students are taught in “boot camps” to fight “persecution” on campus with an “activist mentality,” confronting their liberal peers and professors head-to-head with “aggressive” tactics. Students take up the combative charge by staging showy events like “Affirmative Action Bake Sales” and “Catch an Illegal Alien Day.” This provocative style of right-wing activism is designed to poke fun at liberals, get them angry, protest their events and, when chaos ensues, attract media attention.

Another organization we studied, the Leadership Institute, had $21 million in assets in 2014 and spent nearly $15 million that year supporting conservative students online, on campus, and in their training facilities in Arlington, Va. The organization has trained tens of thousands of college students over the past four decades to enter politics and use advanced technology to get the conservative message out. One former Leadership Institute employee is James O’Keefe, the videographer who produced heavily edited undercover audio and video recordings with workers at ACORN, NPR and Planned Parenthood, all of which went viral years ago on While at the Leadership Institute, O’Keefe traveled to campuses to consult with students on starting clubs and conservative newspapers.

A newcomer to the scene is Turning Point USA, founded in 2012 by 20-year-old Charlie Kirk. Billing itself as a “24/7-365 activist organization,” its goal is to identify, train and organize students to promote conservative principles. With the motto, “Late to bed, early to rise, work like hell and organize,” Turning Point USA is the organization responsible for a newfound Professor Watchlist, a database of so-called liberal and leftist professors.

Not all conservative campus organizations agree

Right-leaning students who do not fit the “Average Joe” profile of these three organizations find support elsewhere for their speakers and activities. Disdaining confrontational actions such as “Global Warming BBQs” or hosting bomb-throwers such as Coulter, some College Republican clubs gravitate toward more intellectual events, such as bipartisan political conferences on campus or writing for arch, highbrow conservative newspapers.

The best known organization nurturing a more civil disposition is the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, founded in the 1950s by William F. Buckley. With assets totaling $11 million in 2014, ISI advertises itself as the premiere organization for the “best and the brightest” among conservative students. It offers seminars on moral and political philosophy, which ISI’s leaders argue are lacking on today’s college campuses. ISI also provides networking and internship opportunities at the National Review and other old-world right-leaning media. Ross Douthat, an op-ed writer for the New York Times, was a member of the 2002 class at ISI while attending Harvard and is now a speaker for the organization.

Events like last week’s help groups raise money and attention

All of these organizations rely on substantial amounts of funding from outside donors. They are not self-supporting. Given the large amounts that many luminaries charge to give speeches on campus — Coulter, for example, charges between $20,000 and $50,000 a speech — they could not be.

The amount of money pouring into conservative student groups from outside organizations has always outpaced the amount flowing to left-leaning students. Conservatives argue that makes sense because they feel as if they are outgunned on campuses that many of them think of as liberal indoctrination mills.

In recent years, the amount of money supporting the provocative style has outstripped support for the civil style. As a result of the altercation at Berkeley, it is likely that organizations supporting provocation will grow even richer, if donors on the right like what they see. And what they seem to like in the age of Trump is Coulter vs. Berkeley.

Amy Binder is a professor of sociology at the University of California at San Diego. She is co-author of “Becoming Right: How Campuses Shape Young Conservatives,” published in 2013.

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102 days ago
San Francisco, USA
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