News Release

Is Prominent Think Tank a Bastion of Racist Theory?

One of the most influential think tanks in the United States also houses several of the nation’s most controversial pundits on race issues. In a new analysis, researcher Deborah Toler scrutinizes what she calls the “race desk” at the American Enterprise Institute.

Toler, a policy analyst with the Institute for Public Accuracy, contends that mainstream AEI conservatives and racist hate groups such as the Council of Conservative Citizens share a preoccupation with managing the emerging majority of people of color in the United States. According to AEI fellows, African Americans in particular constitute a major threat to Western civilization.

In “The End of Racism,” AEI’s John M. Olin fellow Dinesh D’Souza blames African Americans’ so-called “culture of poverty” for their “failure” to achieve what whites and Asians in the U.S. have achieved. D’Souza advocates as an appropriate policy response the repeal of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Black conservatives Glenn Loury and Robert Woodson found “The End of Racism” so offensive that they severed all ties with AEI in protest.

Charles Murray’s proposed study of genetic explanations for poverty was too hot to handle for the conservative Manhattan Institute — but not for AEI, where he is a Bradley Fellow and where he completed the controversial book The Bell Curve. In his book Slouching Towards Gomorrah, Robert Bork — AEI’s John M. Olin Fellow in Legal Studies — locates much of the blame for the “decline of bourgeois culture” in African American culture. AEI fellow Ben Wattenberg shares Bork’s perspective and has written that the global demographic dominance of non-European populations threatens the ability of the West to continue its role as “the driving force of modernization.”

Despite considerable criticism of the overtly anti-African-American views of its most visible racial policy analysts, AEI continues to rake in huge sums of money from conservative foundations, corporations and individual contributors. The Olin, William H. Donner and JM foundations fund Wattenberg’s PBS television show, “Think Tank.” AEI had $18.6 million in revenues in 1997 and expenses of only $14.3 million, allowing it to invest the surplus in building its endowment and pre-funding future research.

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Toler’s “The Right’s ‘Race Desk'” is a Think Tank Monitor inquiry. Think Tank Monitor is a joint project of IPA and the media watch group FAIR. The article is available in the most recent issue of Extra!, or from the Institute for Public Accuracy.

Interviews with Toler can be arranged by calling Sam Husseini at the Institute for Public Accuracy: (202) 347-0020.