Short Shots #4: Dispatches from the War on Stupidity

05/25/2011 12:05 pm ET

Do not refer to the George Bush Library as a library.

A library is a repository of records and a resource for scholarship.

The Bush institution has no intention whatsoever of being a library.

It is intended to be a propaganda mill. And it will be one.

Keep in mind that Bush has done more than any other president in history to hide records and to keep people from getting at them. Not just his own, but his father's and Reagan's. He is the enemy of libraries, of research and of scholarship. This institution will be used to keep presidential papers from real scholars, historians and researchers.

Bush's goal is to raise $500,000,000 (five hundred million) for his memorial to himself.
Where could $500,000,000 possibly go? Part of it will pay for lawyers to keep real scholars out of the records. The bulk of it will go to paid political hacks who will churn out papers and books that will rewrite reality. Just as the Bush White House has done his entire administration.

That's why professors and students at SMU oppose it. Nobody opposes libraries. They are opposing a propaganda mill. They are opposing an institution intended to be the enemy of truth.

Every time anyone in the media uses the word library in reference to this project, they aid and abet the confusion and delusion.

It should be referred to as the George W. Bush Propaganda Mill.

While we're at it, let's talk about fellows and scholars and senior scholars and adjunct fellows at think tanks and foundations and institutes.

Those are academic titles. They are intended to create an illusion.

We live in a society in which there are different spheres. The divisions are not perfect or absolute, but they do exists and we expect different things from those different spheres.

We expect that people who work for a business will normally put the profits of that business ahead of other interests. For example, that tobacco company scientists will work to show that smoking doesn't cause cancer. We expect that politicians will say anything to get elected. We expect that religious leaders will deny certain secular truths (like evolution) if it contradicts what they regard as higher truth (the revealed word).

Academics are expected to be working in search of truth, for it's own sake.

They are hired because they demonstrated scholarship. That is, they have produced some work that has met objective, verifiable, truth seeking standards.

They are supposed to be disinterested (in the most positive sense of that term). Their work open to peer review. To be vetted and critiqued. That they will be rewarded for being right and languish for being wrong. That they will be dismissed if it is discovered that their research results were falsified or that they cherry-picked their evidence to give false results.

In the real world that does not work perfectly, but that's the standard.

When someone is called a "Senior Scholar" at the Heritage Foundation, that is intended to give us the illusion that such a person is a genuine academic, pursuing real truth, wherever it may lead, and that he is doing so in an institution - a foundation or an institute - that is dedicated to such ideals.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Nobody is funded by the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, the Freedom Forum, or any of the rest because they have a disinterested dedication to truth. They are brought on board because they follow an ideological agenda and are willing to hew to the party line.

It would be more accurate to describe someone writing for such organizations as a "Paid Political Hack," from a "Right Wing Propaganda Factory" funded by "Greedy Corporations and Psycho Billionaires who Hate Taxes."

Just because they give themselves honorable names, doesn't mean we have to use them. Using such titles of honor adds to the illusions and delusions.

Give such people the titles the really deserve and people will begin to read them for what they are.

Larry Beinhart is the author of Wag the Dog, The Librarian, and Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin. All available at