Phi Beta Cons

Shine Sun on Petrodollars in Our Universities

We’ve long needed a study of the outpouring of donations to U.S. campuses from Arabian Gulf states. Now we have it from Jay Greene, who finds that these states have donated more than 16 percent of all reported foreign gifts and contracts from foreign sources to American universities. Greene states:

The economies of these countries contribute less than 2% of global GDP, so they give at roughly 8 times their share of wealth. By comparison our top 10 major trading partners (excluding Saudi Arabia) have contributed 47% of the foreign gifts and contracts to US universities and constitute 44% of global GDP.

How keen the Saudis’ and emirs’ devotion to our universities!
Ralph Peters describes Saudi Arabia as “funding evil” and “the cradle of terror.” Its leaders and others in the Persian Gulf, he writes, are “inbred desert barbarians with a zero-sum mentality about heaven and earth,” and they favor “strict religious and cultural apartheid.”
Peters is right in his prescription about how to approach the Gulf states’ potentially huge ability to skew academic scholarship. Universities and think tanks should:

list their funding sources on the cover of every “study” they publish … (If you think mortgage brokers are greedy, you’ve never seen an intellectual offered a grant.)
Think those institutions have published many studies criticizing the Saudi royal family or the Emir of Qatar? Or defending Israel’s right to exist?
If Congress really wants to improve our national security … Pass a law requiring every think tank or college that accepts money from foreign governments, overseas institutions or ruling-dynasty members to register its employees as lobbyists.
Let’s get this out into the sunlight so we can all savor the stink …
Prohibit foreign funding, direct or indirect, of US religious institutions and schools by the government or citizens of any state that denies religious freedom to its own residents. No churches in Saudi Arabia? OK, no Saudi-controlled madrassahs in Virginia.

Right on, Peters.

Candace de Russy — Candace de Russy is a nationally recognized expert on education and cultural issues.

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