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Private Foundations Charged With Subversion of Morals


While McCarthy-type investigations drew many of the front-page Congressional headlines, during the past year, an investigation of a different sort directly attacked the source sof much of the financial backing for the nation's educational institutions.

In May of 1954 a special House Committee to investigate Tax-Exempt Foundations began hearings "to determine which such foundations and organizations are using their resources for un-American and subversive activities; for political purposes, propaganda, or attempts to influence legislation."

Chaired by Carrol B. Reece (R-Tenn.), the committee set out to discover whether such financial giants as the Ford, Rockefeller, and Carnegie Founrations were serving the nation's interests.

We Have a Right to Know

"In the past," Reece said on the floor of the House, "the majority (of these foundations) have justified their tax exemptions, even though the probable cost to the taxpayers runs into the billions. Certainly, the Congress has a right and a duty to inquire into the purposes and the conduct of institutions to which taxpayers have made such great sacrifices."

The Reece Committee was not the first to look into the operations of tax-exempt foundations. In the 82d congress the Cox Committee questioned the heads of the major foundations and concluded that they were making good use of their favorable position.

But Norman Dodd, research director of the Reece Committee, charged that the Democrat-dominated committee "had readily accepted excuses concerning grants to Communists and that foundations had not been asked why they did not support projects of a pro-American type."

Down with Dewey

Dodd attacked the Ford Foundation for its "dubious staff and its support of Communism and socialist propaganda." One witness, sympathetically questioned by the chairman, attacked the Kinsey Report, financed by a foundation grant, as a force for weakening American morals, and another criticized Gunnar Myrdal's book "An American Dilemma" because it saw too much that is shoddy in our society.

Witness before the committee questioned the technical competence of foundation grantees and attacked the educational philosophies of such men as John Deway and Robert M. Hutchins. Where research projects fell short of absolute perfection in their results or failed to achieve acceptable solutions, the grantors were scored for their inefficiency, wastefulness, and un-American bias.

The total picture which emerged from the welter of uncomplimentary testimony was that privately endowed, tax-exempt foundations use their educational and humanitarian activities as a cloak for a vast scheme to undermine American life.

Continual Dissent

But the foundations made statements of their own in defense of their position. "The Ford Foundation has not used nay of its resources for un-American or subversive activities." H. Rowan Gaither, Jr., Foundation president, testified. "Nor have we used any of our resources for political purposes, propaganda, or attempts to influence legislation."

The majority report of the Reece committee expressed the tenor of the testimony unfavorable to the foundations. But throughout the hearings Representative Wayne L. Hays (D.Ohio) supported the position of private philanthropy. In his dissent from the committee report, he strongly attacked the tactics and findings of the majority.

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