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The original GOP Tax Bill would have benefited one of the most far right colleges in the country that many West Michigan elites support – Hillsdale College

December 6, 2017

It is not a stretch to say that the GOP Tax Bill will continue to war on working people, the poor and disproportionate communities of color. This graphic here, makes it clear who the primary beneficiaries are with the tax bill.

However, in addition to how this tax bill will benefit the rich, there are other aspects of it that we should pay attention to. For instance, there is a provision on page 289 that, “would exempt certain colleges from a special tax on university endowments. It would only apply to colleges that: 1. Did not accept federal funds, and 2. Had an endowment of at least $500,000 per student.” 

There is actually only one college in the entire country that meets this requirement – Hillsdale College, located in the southern part of Michigan.

Hillsdale College has an interesting history and is one of the colleges in the US that is deeply committed to far right/reactionary neoliberal economic policies. They boast of night taking any money from the federal government, as can be seen in this video that Hillsdale College created.

Investigative journalist Russ Bellant, has written several books on far right organizations and movements in the US and in Michigan. Bellant wrote the book, The Religious Right in Michigan Politics and The Coors Connection: How Coors Family Philanthropy Undermines Democratic Pluralism.

In The Coors Connection, Bellant describes the politics of Hillsdale College. Bellant says the school’s supports are a who’s who of the far right in US politics. Indeed, one of the former presidents of Hillsdale, was George Roche. Roche, while serving as President of Hillsdale College was also a member of the World Anti-Communist League (WACL).

Longtime Hiilsdale President Roche is opposed in general to social engineering plans, among which he includes affirmative action and public education. Roche has attacked the Civil Rights Restoration Act as frightening federal intervention. He calls affirmative action “the putrid backwash of all the tired social engineering schemes and complains that its advocates are so hypersensitive that a school’s unwillingness to set up advanced bongo drum programs is called racist.”

Bellant goes on to say:

“The selection of contributors for Hillsdale’s monthly magazine, Imprimis, also relfects the school’s far right political views. In one issue, Gerda Bikales, a founder and former executive director of the English Only organization, US English, condemned the advocates of cultural diversity and bilingual education. She attacked the skilled language planners and other militant advocates who promote bilingual education, as well as those who aggressively pursue diversity and cultural pluralism.”

However, don’t just take the word of Bellant, even a recent article in the New York Times made it clear that the politics of Hillsdale College are reactionary and far right.

Because Hillsdale College does not accept federal money, they do not have to follow federal policy, like Title IX.  As a result, the college does not follow Title IX guidelines on sex discrimination and the handling of sexual assault cases and it has refused to engage in the otherwise required reporting on student race and ethnicity, let alone develop an affirmative action plan. Not surprisingly, the school’s “race blind” admissions policy results in an overwhelmingly white student body.

In 2013, Dr. Arnn was castigated by Michigan legislators when, during testimony against the Common Core, he made a remark about officials who questioned Hillsdale’s racial record. Years before, he said scornfully, Michigan officials had come to the campus with clipboards, trying to count faces and prove, he said, that the college “didn’t have enough dark ones.” He later issued a barbed apology: “No offense was intended by the use of that term except to the offending bureaucrats.”

The New York Times article goes on to say:

It is no coincidence that Justice Clarence Thomas, an advocate of strict “originalist” interpretation of the Constitution, delivered the commencement address last spring, likening Hillsdale to a “shining city on a hill” for its devotion to “liberty as an antecedent of government, not a benefit from government.”

West Michigan Connection

So, in addition to the proposed tax bill being nothing short of class warfare, it also benefits a far right college that has connections some of the most powerful families in West Michigan.

The Van Andel Family has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Hillsdale College. Van Andel’s son, Steve, was a 1978 graduate of Hillsdale. In 2013, after he donated to graduate school scholarships and operations, Hillsdale named it’s graduate school of statesmanship in his honor. Lastly, Erik Prince, the founder of the private mercenary army, Blackwater, also graduated from Hillsdale in 1992, just prior to working on Patrick Buchanan’s campaign that same year.

Because of some push back, the provision to include Hillsdale College was defeated last Friday, just prior to the Senate vote on the GOP tax plan. 

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