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Do Foundations Ignore the War?

By Tom Watson on April 18, 2007No Comment

Foundation executives tend to be a progressive crowd, politics aside, and believe themselves up-to-date on the latest issues in our society, whether they grant locally, nationally, or internationally. But a prominent philanthropy blogger argues on the eve of the big Council on Foundations conference in Seattle that the foundation executives are near-silent on the biggest issue of our day – the war.

Argues the writer of Philanthropybeat:

Foundation leaders have been cowed by a political environment that
demonizes dissent; their fortitude [if they had any in the first
place] sapped by a need to not be seen as partisan or unpatriotic.
They’ve turned their backs on one of the tenants of private
foundations: providing an independent voice unfettered by government or
profit-making influences.

That COF can’t hold even a single open discussion about the war in
Iraq simply confirms how foundations have lost their way entirely when
it comes to looking honestly at how government policies impact the
lives of those individuals foundations claim to help.

It’s not Bush-bashing, the blog suggests, to at least have a serious discussion among the leaders of American foundations. Is it true that it’s too "dangerous" for foundation leaders to speak out on Iraq and its consequences? And aren’t there needs both here and overseas to address as the war enters its fifth year? It’s a great question – let’s hope the COF has a public answer.

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