MacArthur’s Thought Police
A foundation helps Twitter and other social media enforce left-wing ideology
The free speech-averse John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation aspires to leverage social media and educational testing in order to strengthen elite control of all aspects of society and culture. The philanthropy promotes politically correct censorship on popular websites like Twitter and Facebook, but for more insight into the organization, focus on the left-wing MacArthur board chairman who has long been a heavy-hitter in textbook publishing.
The Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation was founded in 1971 by the insurance billionaire John D. MacArthur. It is yet another sad story of a free-market entrepreneur’s fortune being captured by the Left, which cares little for the intentions of donors. (For more of the foundation’s history, see Martin Morse Wooster’s The Great Philanthropists and the Problem of ‘Donor Intent,’ published by the Capital Research Center. Wooster also wrote the Foundation Watch report on MacArthur in September 2005.)
John MacArthur died in 1978, and by 1981, the leftists had taken power at his foundation and ousted the conservatives. With just under $6.5 billion in assets at the end of 2014, it is now the seventeenth-largest private foundation in the country and the largest in Illinois, according to FoundationSearch. The philanthropy has been a major force on the American media landscape for years, with total annual spending of approximately $225 million. In 2013, the foundation spent $79.1 million on U.S. grants, with the lion’s share going to “digital media and learning.”
While its oft-mentioned donations in support of liberal media outlets like NPR and PBS have made the MacArthur brand familiar to many, few Americans know of its larger designs: a stealth campaign to help the Left control the U.S. educational system via digital media assessments and efforts by the foundation’s chairman to foster censorship on social media. The unifying theme of many MacArthur projects is manipulation of America’s “Overton windows” (a term describing the range of acceptable political discourse on a particular topic), either through increasingly antiquated communication channels like radio and television, or through forward-looking technology and education grants.
MacArthur has been interested in global online censorship since 2007, when it teamed up with Harvard’s Berkman Center to track governmental Internet censorship worldwide. Ironically, MacArthur now advocates for censorship of anti-feminist views and other opinions it automatically deems “hate speech.”
To understand its ambitions, the MacArthur Foundation must be examined with a wider purview that also encompasses the powerful educational publisher Pearson, a multibillion-dollar company that is not a household name but is the world’s largest book publisher. Both MacArthur and Pearson have been incestuously related since December 2005, when the CEO of Pearson, Marjorie Scardino, was placed on MacArthur’s board of directors. She wielded influence over both organizations until early 2013, when she stepped down from her 16-year stint as one of the world’s most powerful female executives after multiple high-profile scandals at Pearson were uncovered.
Scardino was an architect of the L.A. school district iPad scandal, which cost the district’s schools $1 billion. She was caught meeting with the school district officials before the contract was open for bidding, and ultimately under-delivered on the educational programs that she promised the district by giving them half-baked, buggy software.
She created a new, separate organization called the Pearson Foundation, which she used to pay for the travel expenses of district officials who went to education technology conferences and such, with the apparent end result of lucrative contracts benefitting the parent company Pearson. In New York, it’s unlawful to use one’s nonprofit to help one’s for-profit. The New York Attorney General busted this scheme, and in 2013 Pearson was forced to pay $7.7 million in fines and make major governance changes at the foundation, which was shuttered the following year. A year after the charitable scandal broke, Scardino stepped down after almost 16 years as CEO of Pearson.
As Scardino was leaving Pearson, she was elected chairman of MacArthur and seamlessly made the transition from one leading role to another. To understand Scardino’s end game, one must examine her history. She started out as a journalist and gained notoriety at the Georgia Gazette and the [continued below]
Multiple experts who have had prominent roles in connection with the MacArthur Foundation have made clear that the kind of video games that offend feminists do not actually harm—or render violent—their mostly male users. Constance Steinkuehler, for example, is a well-known academic and former Obama Administration official who has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in support from MacArthur. She told The Capital Times that “the data linking video games to violence is tenuous at best. There just is not an empirical basis for that claim.”
Similarly, Mizuko Ito, who has had multiple books underwritten by MacArthur and who holds the MacArthur Foundation Chair in Digital Media and Learning at U.C., Irvine, writes in one of those MacArthur-supported books: “Some have accused games of promoting violence and sexism. Despite very little empirical evidence that games lead to antisocial or violent behavior, popular perception persists in painting a picture of the aggressive, isolated, compulsive gamer” (Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media, p. 196).
If Ito is puzzled why that “popular perception” persists, perhaps she could ask some of her MacArthur program officer friends about the millions the foundation has given to Common Sense Media, run by Jim Steyer, the older brother of billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer.
The elder Steyer not only uses harsh rhetoric about the “dangers” of gaming, he helped pass a law in California banning the sale of such games to minors. The law violated First Amendment principles so egregiously that the U.S. Supreme Court threw it out in 2011, with a majority opinion written by Justice Antonin Scalia that was joined by the three furthest-left justices: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.
Ito’s book reveals why feminists and other leftists are obsessed with getting girls into “hardcore gaming”: because they see gaming as a gateway to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields and “digital literacy.” So the gaming world must be forced to create games that girls like, to hire women, and otherwise to diminish the prominence of men in these areas. And if that crusade requires lying about the imagined dangers of games that the male of the species likes, they’ll either lie themselves or subsidize others who will.
Incidentally, one of the best studies of women and tech, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found that it’s not men in gaming who are bigoted against women. Quite the opposite. It’s women who are bigoted against the kind of men often found in gaming and other digital industries; specifically, women reject “masculine-geeky” objects like Star Trek posters, video game paraphernalia, and empty Coke cans. So the MacArthurs of the world must make war on geek culture in hopes that women will choose to take the path of gaming to reach the heady world of STEM.
[continued from above] New York Times. Her husband, Alfred, was also an award-winning journalist. They both reveled in their ability to affect society by disseminating their ideas through newspapers.
She loved the influence that being a member of the cultural elite bestowed, as she has publicly acknowledged. She says she is no longer monetarily motivated but simply wants to change the world. According to Scardino, the journalistic life was fulfilling in every way but monetarily, and she eventually went back to school and became a lawyer. In 2013, her compensation as chairman of MacArthur was only $35,500, but her personal fortune was estimated in 2006 to be £10 million.
In 1997 Marjorie had her big break, taking the reins of a then-floundering Pearson and forcefully turning the company around by divesting from old media and instead focusing on education. She was named the world’s 17th most influential woman by Forbes in 2007, when she still held her prized possession, the Financial Times. As her tenure progressed, Scardino knew that the old methods of publishing were circling the drain at an increasingly accelerating rate. In 2010, she gave a speech to the Academy of Arts and Sciences in which she outlined her predictions for the future of publishing. Her view was bleak; she stated matter-of-factly that print newspapers would soon be extinct.
Her next statements were the most surprising. She postulated that while print media and monolithic, massive publishing houses were dying, new forms of citizen journalism and curation were taking over, such as Twitter and Facebook. But she did not applaud this organic move to decentralized, user-created content, news dissemination, and discovery. The shift away from non-elite control of information was problematic, she opined, because users would not be smart enough to start the coordinated, radical political movement that she hopes to see achieve her goal of transforming the United States government.
She asked the academy, “Is the network that’s defining your news able to achieve the task that it needs to? Is it able to do the job for you—and democracy—of scrutinizing the power structure, and the people that inhabit the power structure. Can it really goad us into action? Can it really help us bring reforms to our society and to our government? Those reforms that have taken us along as a democracy for so, so many years.”
Some listeners, no doubt, were puzzled that Scardino could simultaneously predict a profound democratization of the media and yet warn that somehow this development threatens “democracy”—or at least the “reforms” she thinks democracy needs.
She added, “That is the thing I think that citizens have to be willing to do—they have to be free, and able, and willing, to start a movement that fundamentally changes the premises of the government.”
Scardino sees that the biggest threat to her desire to “fundamentally change the premises of the government” is the Left’s loss of the cultural power it has gained through its long control of traditional media. So, to maintain the hope of leftist revolution, emerging new media must be controlled and policed. That way the public can continue to be manipulated through the repetition of the Left’s talking points and the omission of uncomfortable truths.
Following out this strategy, Scardino has striven to control what adults can say, share, and read on social media like the popular Twitter network. She infiltrated Twitter’s board of directors with ease in December 2013, thanks to a pressure campaign spearheaded by the New York Times and aimed at shaming the then-all-male board of directors into naming a woman. But not until Feb. 9, 2016 was the plan to force Twitter to censor its users’ politics fully unveiled. That is when the company announced the formation of its “Trust and Safety Council,” a group of 40 left-wing organizations with aspirations to control speech and determine which sources of news may be trusted.
Twitter Trust & Safety Council – Inaugural Members
Center for Democracy and Technology
Circle of 6
Crisis Text Line
Cyber Civil Rights Initiative
Dacher Keltner, Professor of Psychology and Faculty Director of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center
Dangerous Speech Project
EU Kids Online
Family Online Safety Institute
Fundacion para la Libertad de Prensa
Internet Watch Foundation
Marc Brackett, Director, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence
National Cyber Security Alliance
National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Network to End Domestic Violence
Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales
Southwest Grid for Learning
The Alannah and Madeline Foundation
The Wahid Institute
UK Safer Internet Centre
Without My Consent
One Trust and Safety Council member, funded by MacArthur, is the ominously named Dangerous Speech Project (DSP), whose webpage acknowledges MacArthur’s support and adds that the group is “fiscally sponsored by NEO Philanthropy, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization.” That means NEO Philanthropy is a “pass-through” that channels funds to DSP. Grants to NEO from MacArthur for various projects total $19,395,000 since 2010. (The October 2015 issue of Foundation Watch profiled another of NEO Philanthropy’s major undertakings: the Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation. NEO specializes in combining wealthy left-wing donors like the Carnegie Corporation and the Bauman Foundation with powerful left-wing partisans like the National Education Association, the AFL-CIO, and the Service Employees International Union.)
According to DSP’s mission statement, “dangerous speech” and “inflammatory public speech” must be counteracted because they lead to “outbreaks of mass violence.” Such speech is “found in myriad languages, cultures, and religions” and “is uncannily similar across them,” as it “often refers to people as insects, vermin, aliens, threats, or pollution.”
A post by the project manager, who hails from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, elaborates further on its Orwellian tools of the trade: “Inflammatory public speech rises steadily before outbreaks of mass violence, suggesting that it is a precursor or even a prerequisite for violence, which makes sense: groups of killers do not form spontaneously. In most cases, a few influential speakers gradually incite a group to violence.” She continued, “Violence may be prevented, then, by interfering with this process in any of several ways: inhibiting the speech, limiting its dissemination, undermining the credibility of the speaker, or ‘inoculating’ the audience against the speech so that it is less influential, or dangerous.”
This kind of “inoculation” is also referred to as “counter speech.” Twitter wasn’t the first media platform that the Dangerous Speech Project infiltrated. That would be Facebook, in March 2015. Facebook is already officially rolling out counter speech operations in public partnership with the Dangerous Speech Project.
Two other member organizations of Twitter’s Trust & Safety Council receive funds directly from MacArthur: the Center for Democracy and Technology ($1,975,000 since 2003, with many of the larger grants going towards “a project to establish a balanced approach to copyright protection”), and the Family Online Safety Institute ($475,000 between 2012 and 2013).
Right before the Safety Council was unveiled, Twitter took the unusual step of punishing Milo Yiannopoulos, technology editor at Breitbart News and one of the co-authors of this article. Milo had his Twitter account (which now has over 200,000 followers) stripped of the little blue verification badge that Twitter uses to certify that popular account holders are who they say they are. Twitter has never given a reason for this odd penalty, but Milo was likely targeted because Scardino and other social justice warriors at Twitter see his comic attacks on “social justice” as a major threat to the top-down progressive revolution they’re trying to foment on social media.
One of the underhanded means of control is “shadowbanning,” which occurs when a user on social media has no notification that anything is out of the ordinary, but his or her posts or tweets do not show up to other users. The user is essentially banned or limited in interaction with others, without knowing it. This increasingly occurs as sites like Twitter and Facebook quietly create algorithms that edit what users see on the site, ostensibly in the name of providing users a better experience.
Another controversy in this area is so-called GamerGate, which was a consumer revolt in the video games market in which gamers rebelled against large media outlets that cover gaming. This specialized group of media, just like its mainstream cousin, suffers from domination by Progressives. In the case of gaming journalists, these media cronies were obsessed with trying to shame hardcore gamers into demanding that games be less violent and/or sexually oriented, and instead more oriented towards Progressive political indoctrination. The media elite of the gaming industry spouted vitriol against their own consumer base, and in August 2014, gamers responded with a revolt en masse that became known as GamerGate. The elite gaming press subsequently smeared the revolt by claiming that the upstarts were waging a harassment campaign against women and minorities in gaming, and the mainstream media gladly parroted this twisted narrative.
In the U.K., Mrs. Scardino worked with her husband to wheel out speech-limiting operations by using her board membership at MacArthur to funnel funds to pressure groups. Both Scardinos are involved in the Media Standards Trust (MST), a British charity founded in 2006 to “to foster high standards in news media on behalf of the public.” That’s one way to describe it. By contrast, the Register, a popular technology and news website, describes MST as a “secretive pressure group” created by “an alliance of wealthy and powerful individuals and celebrities, including Hugh Grant, which has successfully campaigned for state control of the media in Britain.” At least MST makes no secret of its working relationship with MacArthur, which its website describes in this way:
In 2008 8,760 exabytes of information were uploaded to the web (one exabyte being the equivalent of 50,000 years’ worth of DVD-quality video).
How can anyone be expected to navigate through this forest of information? How can people distinguish between accurate, useful information and inaccurate mis- or disinformation?
One way is to look for news articles, particularly those written by reputable organisations. News covers every subject imaginable, accumulates faster than almost any other content, and is syndicated via countless different outlets.
Yet right now information about how news has been produced—authorship, publication dates etc.—is not captured consistently or transparently. If it was it could be of enormous benefit to the journalist, to news organisations and, most importantly, to the public.
In 2007 the Media Standards Trust submitted a proposal to the MacArthur Foundation to research the issue and to develop ways to address the problem. It also, in partnership with Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s Web Science Research Initiative (since renamed the Web Science Trust), entered the Knight News Challenge 2008.
The MST proposed to research and develop a process to add information to news and information content. The intention being to create clear and consistent provenance for news so that, ultimately, people would be better able to find and assess news stories on the web.
Based on the proposal the MacArthur Foundation awarded the Media Standards Trust a $350,000 grant, spread over the following two years. Then, in May 2008, the Media Standards Trust and WSRI became the first UK based entry to win a prestigious Knight New Challenge award (covered by journalism.co.uk and Press Gazette). The $350,000 Knight award matched the MacArthur grant. You can see Knight’s coverage of the award here.
The MST has other ties to Scardino/MacArthur, as the Daily Mail reported in 2012:
But the [Esmée Fairbairn] Foundation was not the MST’s largest backer in its pivotal early years. The accounts for 2008 show that it received £150,000 that year alone from the Pearson Foundation charity.
The Pearson Foundation is inextricably linked with its funder, the Pearson Group, which also owns the Financial Times.
Until 2009 Sir David Bell [the MST’s founder] was chairman of the Financial Times and a director of Pearson. Today he is chairman of the Pearson Foundation. Again, we are reminded of what a small world it is.
Records also show that Marjorie Scardino—the CEO of Pearson Group since 1997 … —and her husband Albert, an MST trustee and sometime Guardian journalist, made a £5,000 ‘personal donation’ to the MST that year.
They have another significant link to the Media Standards Trust. In 2007, the MST along with another body received a $350,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation ‘to develop plans for authenticating news on the web’.
So what is the MacArthur Foundation and why its largesse towards the MST?
In fact it is a U.S. trust based on the legacy of the founder of a Chicago insurance firm, who died in the Seventies.
Very well-endowed, the foundation has made a number of grants in the UK and around the world since it was founded—many of them to academic bodies.
But as far as the MST is concerned, one is drawn to the fact that until this June the ‘Chair of Budget and Compensation Committee’ for the MacArthur Foundation is none other than Sir David Bell’s colleague, Pearson CEO Marjorie Scardino.
She is now chairman of the Foundation’s board of directors.
First, notice that Scardino was funding this operation via the Pearson Foundation which, we mentioned earlier, was eventually shut down by New York and fined $7.7 million. In addition, Sir David Bell, who was Marjorie’s partner at the Financial Times during the financial disaster in 2008, has used more than the MST to influence the media. Bell also infiltrated a notable British philanthropy, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, which subsequently cut funding for a respected organization whose mission is to protect press freedom: the Index on Censorship. Still another related effort to subvert press freedom is Hacked Off, a group spun off from the MST that was created to put pressure on Britain’s populist press, which can be vulgar but also provides a powerful check on elites who prefer not to face such scrutiny.
The Daily Mail is worth quoting at length for its history of the way Scardino, Bell, and MST became entangled with the Index on Censorship:
For more than 40 years, a wonderful British charity called Index on Censorship has been the champion of free expression, opposing tyrants and ideologies that silenced, imprisoned or even killed writers and journalists who did not toe their line.
Founded at the height of the Cold War to support dissidents behind the Iron Curtain, the politically neutral, London-based body has since compiled a long and noble record of campaigning for free expression around the world….
The Scardinos were very supportive of the Media Standards Trust. In 2007, it received a $350,000 (£205,000) grant from a U.S.-based trust called the MacArthur Foundation, on whose board Mrs Scardino sat.
In 2008, it also received £150,000 from the Pearson Foundation charity, and £5,000 from the Scardinos’ own pockets.
The relationship with the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation was equally cosy. In 2009, it gave the MST £150,000. In January 2011, Sir David Bell joined the Esmée Fairbairn board of trustees after ‘a competitive recruitment process’.
Meanwhile, Sir David’s media charity had launched a series of attacks on the popular Press. But it remained a relatively minor player until the phone-hacking scandal exploded in July 2011.
It was now that Hacked Off was founded by MST director Martin Moore. It was run from the MST offices, and the Trust controlled its finances. Along with Hugh Grant and Max Mosley, Steve Coogan was and remains its most public face.
When the Leveson Inquiry was announced, Sir David stepped down as MST chairman so that he could take up his highly controversial appointment as one of six ‘independent’ assessors at the hearings, none of whom had experience of mass-selling newspapers.
Leveson published his report in November 2012. By then, the battle lines between Index on Censorship and Hacked Off had been drawn.
Both Scardinos have a sordid history of meddling with the media’s ability to broadcast news. In the U.K. they worked to gain public support for increasing the British government’s power over what may be published by conservative media sources. Notice that both the Twitter Trust and Safety Council and also the Media Standards Trust are focused on providing a top-down curation over what sources qualify as reputable or trustworthy, which addresses the complaints Scardino raised with user-driven content. If the Scardinos can’t use governmental crackdowns to control what opinions are allowed to be aired, it seems they will use any mechanism available to squelch unwanted speech on privately owned social media, such as Twitter and Facebook.
Given how much political discourse occurs on social media, it is disturbing that so much political manipulation and open censorship are already taking place. In Germany, for instance, Facebook has already banned criticism of immigrants and is working closely with that country’s government to delete any offending posts within 24 hours.
From Social Media to Education
Controlling discourse on social media is actually the lesser goal in Scardino’s authoritarian agenda. Her larger aim appears to be control of the American educational system. The idea is to replace standardized testing with an educational video game system that mines data while students learn, making traditional yearly assessment testing obsolete. The goal is apparently shared by MacArthur, Pearson, and Microsoft, all of which are working together to make their dream a reality.
The joint education technology project is called Glasslab, and it consists of a consortium of major players in the Common Core industry. MacArthur is not alone in financing the project. The other cash source is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has spent over $5 billion on Common Core. Why is Gates so intent on spending billions for the adoption of Common Core? One possibility is the way a single national standard would create the potential for education games to be profitable. Before the standardization, spending millions to create a game was risky, because a game that fit one state’s standards probably wouldn’t be compatible with another state’s standards.
In a 2011 interview, Obama administration appointee Constance Steinkuehler, a professor of education and game-based learning at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, explained, “Part of that is because of Common Core; states have more explicitly in common in terms of what goals they need to meet. So that has really enabled a whole new generation of learners to tackle the problem of learning and learning technologies that you never saw five years ago. There’s a lot more investment and momentum around learning technologies generally.”
The recipients of the money for this project are also familiar names to anyone in the video game industry: Along with the textbook behemoth Pearson, they include Electronic Arts, the Entertainment Software Association, and Educational Testing Service. Gates gave Glasslab almost $7 million in the past few years, and MacArthur coughed up $3.8 million of its own.
In an interview with Connected Learning Alliance—another MacArthur-funded group—the deputy director of education at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Carina Wong, stated:
I made several investments in game-based investments…to think about how to use games for learning and assessment. And I really believe in the power of those kinds of innovations. The question is how do we begin to think about them or adopt them in schools, and how do we begin to recognize or validate what kids actually learn in different ways…. I think our current assessment evaluation accountability systems are not set up for sort of that V3 way of thinking about proficiency.
When the interviewer asked the Gates Foundation program officer what she meant by V3, she responded:
We’ve gone through so many phases about accountability reform and standards-based reform and all these kinds of things, and I think we’re really needing to think a little further out. When I say V3, I’m sort of thinking, you know, imagine a world where you’re not trapped inside “I’ve gotta take a standardized test in the spring to know whether or not my kid is ready for college.” How do we think very differently about that, or to know whether or not the schools are doing well?
(The interview is available as an audio file at http://vocaroo.com/i/s0OkcXDIUs3S. The relevant segment begins at 12:30.)
Similar interest in games and assessments is found at GamesAndLearning.org, which is funded by the Gates Foundation:
[U.S. Education Secretary John] King said education technology could make testing more relevant, by providing more timely information that teachers can use to adjust lessons to meet students’ needs. This brings another conundrum: selecting technology that works and then training educators to use it correctly.
King is referring to the data-mining capabilities of Glasslab, which will allow for teaching/assessment tools to track in real-time the areas of study where a student is struggling.
It’s a laudable idea, but the process can be subverted by political radicals attempting to indoctrinate the nation’s youth. In “The Rise of Games and High Performance Computing for Modeling and Simulation,” a report funded by the Defense Intelligence Agency, the authors note that large-scale games can easily facilitate political manipulation:
While some cases of direct political manipulation of an individual have been popularized by fiction such as The Manchurian Candidate, it is the manipulation of large numbers of people that can potentially be accomplished through Internet media. Enabled by the Internet, political messages can be quickly distributed to the world population with little validation beyond the recipients’ own social filters. Games, modeling, and simulation present a new dynamic in the use of the Internet as a source of propaganda.
(A free download of this report is available at http://www.nap.edu/catalog/12816/the-rise-of-games-and-high-performance-computing-for-modeling-and-simulation.)
MacArthur is also well aware of the usefulness of educational games as a tool for political indoctrination. At its yearly educational conference in 2014, one session was titled, “Playing for Keeps: Gameful Design for Real-world Action and Social Change,” and the leader of the conference’s track on using games for political purposes praised educational games for the effective way they can indoctrinate users. In an interview about the “Playing for Keeps” panel, Eric Gordon, the head of the track, stated:
What I’m really interested in, is how games and play are creating a context for interaction within a civic space that can be really powerful and could actually change the way that communities interact and change the way that governments respond to communities. One of the tensions that is present in this idea is the tension of play and what is typically associated with the work of civic life and civic engagement and political action. And what I really hope to explore in this track is where that tension—those places where that tension comes to life. Where the political action itself that’s mediated through a game is playful and even fun and pleasurable, but where that, institutions, in some way or another, have to be responsive to that act of play.
It sounds like Gordon wants to create a mix of educational games and Twitteresque social media in order to indoctrinate students and sic them onto established institutions of power, so that the establishment will end up begging the angry children for their forgiveness. This tactic is a favorite of the Left, and by the time Gordon recorded that interview, the tech world’s social justice cry-bullies had not yet faced significant backlash, which eventually came in the form of GamerGate.
MacArthur has already paid between $35,000 and $150,000 to fight GamerGate through a project designed to address “anti-feminist violence online.” The project is needed because “Feminists are at risk and engendering safety in digital spaces seems difficult at best.” The project’s response—delivered via FemTechNet, an entity “uniquely situated to be able to educate and serve online feminist learning communities”—included an in-person meeting “designed to ensure that we have a cohesive, coherent, intersectional, and ethical approach to addressing anti-feminist violence.” This is the kind of jargon and “safe space” ideology that turns college students into screaming hecklers who won’t let non-leftist scholars like Christina Hoff Sommers speak on college campuses.
Similarly, a MacArthur educational conference held in June 2015 was titled “Equity by Design” and had a heavy social justice focus. The infamous admitted “communist,” Van Jones—who served in the Obama administration as “green jobs czar” before being forced to resign over his extremist views—was a keynote speaker, and the meeting seemed to focus on racial grievance hand-wringing, as opposed to preparing students for the future.
MacArthur has succeeded in pressuring the Obama administration to push for video games as a primary educational tool. The federal government is funding in this area and has already given at least $800,000 for research in how to use games to make boys less aggressive.
MacArthur was even able to land its own plant inside the White House. In 2011, Obama appointed Constance Steinkuehler, quoted earlier supporting Common Core, to be a policy advisor at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Steinkuehler’s position was more commonly known as the Fun Czar. The only problem was that Republican lawmakers controlled Obama’s pocketbook and refused to fork over the funding needed for the position.
That didn’t stop MacArthur from air-dropping the funds for this new post which was so helpful to its plans. Revealing what some would call bribery of a federal official, Steinkuehler gave a presentation to Microsoft Research while she was still working for the White House and told the audience that her “home institution” was paying her salary while she worked at the White House. News articles also confirm that it was indeed MacArthur that footed her bills during her 18-month term working for Obama.
Soon after he appointed Steinkuehler, President Obama said, “I’m calling for investments in educational technology that will help create … educational software that’s as compelling as the best video game.” Steinkuehler has openly studied using video gaming sessions to achieve behavioral modification and neuroscience manipulation. In 2012 while still serving under Obama, Steinkuehler held an official White House workshop titled, “Enhancing Well-being and Attentional Control through Games and Interactive Media: A Neuroscientific Approach.”
Not surprisingly, Steinkuehler has also received major backing from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She’s president of the Learning Games Network Inc. and has been awarded millions of dollars in grants from Gates over the past few years. But Steinkuehler is a MacArthur girl through and through; it’s just that Gates and MacArthur are now working together towards the same goal, along with Microsoft Research, which originated in the Gates business empire.
Allies in an Educational Takeover
Clearly, big publishers in the worlds of education and video games are working together to strengthen their control over America’s educational system. One big attraction the publishers can offer teachers, administrators, and parents is the chance to conduct educational data-mining that will allow the software to notify teachers of the particular areas where students are having problems. Additionally, the software offers the promise of a test-as-you-learn system that will eliminate the current regime of stressful, high-stakes testing. In addition to these pleasant developments, unfortunately, the payoff for powerful influencers like Marjorie Scardino will be the chance to spoonfeed leftist political indoctrination into America’s children using highly immersive video games.
Steinkuehler explained some of the possibilities in her keynote address from the 2012 “Games for Health” conference, as reported by Gamasutra, a video game news site:
I can tell you the rhetoric around games has changed. Something has shifted. People have come to understand finally that videogames are a powerful medium.
Technology is now poised in this place where we can talk about things like big data, learning analytics, behavioral analytics, and personalization on that level of scale. The Federal government has been investing in games for well over a decade. If you include military simulations it goes way back before that, and yet none of that investment has been coordinated.
Gamasutra concluded by noting that Steinkuehler “works with a Federal Game Guild, which shares serious game knowledge, resources and assets across Federal agencies. The Guild currently stands at 177 members across 33 agencies and four White House offices.”
If a child receives progressive political indoctrination in schools but runs home to watch lectures by conservatives who were refuting the messages taught in the schools, the school’s indoctrination would not hold. This is why the Left feels the need to control all aspects of social interaction. If students are being pummeled with similar political messaging nonstop in school, in the social media on their smart phones, in their video games at home, even at comedy clubs and music venues, it’s likely the children will end up enthralled to the ideology in the constant messages.
That, it would seem, is MacArthur’s end game—control of all aspects of society and culture.
Milo Yiannopoulos is technology editor at Breitbart.com.