Popular Culture: The ENEMY

In the New Yorker’s recent account of George Soros’s multimillion dollar endeavor to oust President Bush, journalist Jane Mayer points out that

“the astonishing amount of cash that Soros has poured into the Presidential race is nonetheless dwarfed by Republican efforts to influence public policy through private donations.”

Mayer then highlights a report put together by Rob Stein, which details how a handful of absurdly wealthy conservatives have contributed millions upon millions of dollars during the past three decades to conservative and right-wing institutions and foundations, in effect “financing a war of ideas to tilt mainstream thinking in America rightward” (New Yorker, October 18, 2004, p. 188).

I hadn’t heard of Stein’s report, but apparently it’s been making news. First, this summer in the New York Times Magazine, and then in September in Harper’s. In the New York Times Magazine article, Matt Bai summarizes Stein’s report as demonstrating how conservatives have established a “message machine” that spends $300 million every year pushing its right-wing agenda.

Jane Mayer lists a few of the institutions that comprise the conservative “message machine,” and one of these instantly caught my eye: the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, funded in part by Richard Mellon Scaife, one of the 200 or so “anchor donors” for the conservative movement.

Why, the study of popular culture–that sounds like something right up my alley. Not much different from Pop Matters or PopCultures, right?

Not really.

The innocuously-named Center for the Study of Popular Culture is not the place to go if you want to read a feminist analysis of the latest episode of The Apprentice or to read thought-provoking explorations of hip-hop culture.

No, it’s the place to go when you want “constant updates on the ongoing crises of our day, from multiculturalism to the war on terror.” Yes, multiculturalism is a grave threat. And if Kerry is elected, I’m sure Dick Cheney would say, multiculturalism WILL STRIKE AGAIN!!!

Those wacky white billionaire conservatives. What will they think up next?