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The Orion Society's Real Agenda By: Chet Dembeck
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Environmentalist groups are often lumped together with motherhood and apple pie. After all, who in their right minds would be against conserving energy or protecting natural resources? But so often what appears at first glance to be a reasonable organization with noble causes, upon a closer look, turns out to be no more than a front for a virulent left-wing agenda. The Orion Society is an example of such an organization.

When you go to the group’s website, there can be little quarrel with its lofty mission statement: "The Orion Society's programs and publications seek to inform, inspire and engage civil society in becoming a significant cultural force for healing nature and community."

However, when you glance to the right of this innocuous message, there’s a photo of Vice President Dick Cheney extending his hand to someone. Above the photo in bold type reads: "The Cheney Gladhand in Motion." This is linked to an article, which accuses the vice president—of among other things— pulling "the plug on medicine for world's poorest nations at behest of pharmaceutical giants."

When you click onto Orion’s monthly magazine, Orion, you’re immediately hit with a feature blasting the Bush administration for its national security strategy. In the piece, the writer coyly contends that President George W. Bush is no friend of democracy and plainly wants to be a king.

Objective journalism, don’t you think? All about saving our environment?

Another story, highlighted in the group’s magazine praises Havana for promoting organic gardening on the Communist island of Cuba. It appears that Orion can easily find nice things to say about Fidel Castro’s Cuban paradise, but can’t find a kind word for any of the top elected officials of the U.S.

Follow the money

From where do Orion’s ideas originate?

According to Orion, advertisers do not affect its editorial views. That’s because the organization declares it takes no ads. "Power corrupts, advertising corrupts absolutely," it proclaims self-righteously on its site.

Still, Orion does need money to operate. According to its website, the organization receives financial support from membership fees and donations from 30 different institutions.

It’s when you begin to carefully examine Orion’s benefactors and whom they also support that you begin to discover a convergence of far-left ideologies – views that are strikingly monolithic.

Many of the foundations funding Orion are also funding some other disturbing organizations. For example, Orion benefactor, the LEF Foundation, also donated $7,000 to an organization called MECA for Peace based in Berkley, California.

The organization proclaims on its website that its mission is to tell the real story about the suffering of children in Palestine and Iraq. The fact that this group recognizes a Palestinian state before the rest of the world gives you a real clue as to where their agenda lies. The real story, according to MECA, is that the U.S. and the evil Israeli Prime Minister Sharon are the problem in the Middle East—dropping bombs and killing children. There's no mention of PLO terrorism or Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. MECA also touts "a conversation with Noam Chomsky" about these issues in the organization's literature. Chomsky has been championing anarchists’ and Marxist causes for decades. Seeing his name on a site is a Communist imprimatur and akin to crossing yourself in the name of Mao, Stalin and the holy Vladimir Lenin.

This donor of Orion also gave $12,500 to the Latino Public Broadcasting of Los Angeles for the filming of a feature-length documentary on the life and career of the late Alberto Dias Korda. In case you don't recognize his name, Korda was Fidel Castro's personal photographer until 1968. After he stopped snapping photo opps for the Communist dictator, Korda continued his "personal friendship" with Fidel.

Another Orion benefactor, Richard & Rhoda Goldman Fund, has donated substantial sums to left-wing groups. For example, the fund shelled out $20,000 to San Francisco-based Public Media Center, which according to its website, " grew out of volunteer efforts by progressive media professionals to speed an end to the Vietnam War, challenge the growth of nuclear power and help poor communities fight off their exploiters." On its site, PMC also outlines 10 suggested guerilla tactics for aggressively pushing its agenda such as targeting the undecided.

"Most issues are decided by winning over the undecided," PMC proclaims. "Typically, the percentage on one side of an issue is offset by a roughly equivalent percentage on the other. It is the undecided or conflicted percentage in the middle that determines the outcome."

Another tactic listed is PMC’s view that its brand of social activism must always be oppositional.

"American political discourse is fundamentally oppositional," says PMC. "People are more comfortable being against something than for something."

The Richard & Rhoda Goldman Fund also donated $50,000 to another San Francisco far-left propaganda engine, the Independent Media Institute.

Once you reach its website, it only take a few seconds to experience this group’s stark anti-American vitriol.

Lead stories accusing the Bush administration of carrying on a "crusade for global domination fueled by quasi-religious zealotry," or an article arguing that Iraq has no nuclear bomb-making program seem to be written by a single mind, although each unobjective diatribe has a different byline.

The rest of the front page is peppered with stories characterizing New York anti-war protestors as heroes braving a hostile and uncooperative city government, while describing elected U.S. officials as horrific fascists set on disturbing a peaceful and exploited Iraq—so it can steal Sadaam’s oil for the wealthy.

In fact, there is so much hatred for the U.S. government on this page, it’s difficult to understand why this organization hasn’t folded up its tent and simply set up shop off shore. Its rhetoric reads more like the rantings of North Korea’s dictator Kim Jon-il than those of a legitimate domestic critic.

Not to leave any base untouched, the Independent Media Institute’s online publication leverages the race card in its leftist propaganda against U.S. government policy by linking to an article entitled, " Black Resistance to War is Imperative."

This piece follows a pathetically familiar theme: "As Nelson Mandela so forcefully put it again in a recent statement, Bush's running buddies in the energy industry are anxious to get their hands on those huge Iraqi oil fields," the article exhorts.

In its last couple of paragraphs the author reaches a predictable race-baiting crescendo: "Black opposition to the war against Iraq is imperative. In the same spirit that Martin Luther King opposed the Vietnam War and Kwame Ture declared ‘Hell no, we won't go.’"

And so it goes.

This group and Orion are funded by several of the same donors.

The Nathan Cummings Foundation, which supports Orion, also contributed $25,000 to the Independent Media Institute.

Menagerie of radicals

But if there’s one benefactor of Orion that exemplifies how such funds are nourishing a menagerie of socialist radicals it is the Education Foundation of America. This organization’s donor list is a who’s who of primordial lefties. Just reading the donor list catapults you on a nostalgic trip down a Marxist memory lane and would make any radical want to burn their draft card—if there still was a draft.

For starters, this fund kicked in $25,000 into the William Moses Kunstler Fund For Racial Justice Inc. Although Kunstler passed away in 1995, his spirit lives on in this organization. It’s been a while since I’ve been exposed to the kind of kooky, conspiratorial rhetoric I viewed on the fund’s website. As much as I could decipher, the $25,000 given to this organization is being spent to fight what it calls "Rockerfeller drug law vigils." Nowhere on this site, however, is it explained why the U.S. government would be interested in arresting innocent African-Americans in a "racist drug war." Also conspicuously absent from this dialogue is there any mention that in many major cities African-Americans themselves are victimized by other African-American drug dealers.

The Educational Foundation of America also donated $190,000 to the Institute for Democracy Studies. This group says on its website that its mission is to stop in its tracks the conservative conspiracy to turn back the clock on social justice. Social justice to this organization is defined as any government program that promotes quotas hiring certain minorities over everyone else.

Finally, the foundation also gave $200,000 to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion organization, which alleges on its website that the Bush administration is against reproductive rights. Since when is protecting the rights of the unborn being against reproductive rights? It seems to me such a policy is exactly the opposite.

While this web of donors funding like-minded organizations is nothing unusual or wrong, it is something that should be thoroughly understood by anyone who disagrees with their hardcore leftist activism hidden in appealing causes.

More importantly, once exposed to the light, organizations such as Orion can be seen for what they truly are: Less focused on environmentalism – and more focused on a much broader leftist agenda.

Chet Dembeck is a seasoned reporter who has covered business, Congress and the federal government.

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