How Right-Wing Billionaires Infiltrated Higher Education - 2016-02-12
What emerged was a strategy they called the "beachhead" theory. The aim, as Piereson later described it in an essay offering advice to fellow conservative philanthropists, was to establish conservative cells, or "beachheads," at "the most influential schools in order to gain the greatest leverage." The formula required subtlety, indirection, and perhaps even some misdirection.
The key, Piereson explained, was to fund the conservative intelligentsia in such a way that it would not "raise questions about academic integrity." Instead of trying to earmark a chair or dictate a faculty appointment, both of which he noted were bound to "generate fierce controversy," he suggested that conservative donors look for like-minded faculty members whose influence could be enlarged by outside funding. In time, such a professor could administer an expanded program. But Piereson warned that it was "essential for the integrity and reputation of the programs that they be defined not by ideological points of view."
To overtly acknowledge "pre-ordained conclusions" would doom a program. Instead of saying the program was designed to "demonstrate the falsity of Marxism" or to promote "free enterprise," he advised that it was better to "define programs in terms of fields of study, [like the] John M. Olin Fellowships in Military History." He wrote, "Often a program can be given a philosophical or principled identity by giving it the name of an important historical figure, such as the James Madison Program on American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University." (Indeed, after years of trial and error, the Olin foundation funded Princeton's Madison Program with $525,000 in start-up grants in 2000. Run by Robert George, an outspoken social and religious conservative, the program serves as the beau ideal of the "beachhead" theory. As a friend of George's described him to The Nation in 2006, he is "a savvy right-wing operative, boring from within the liberal infrastructure.")