The Independent Record reports today that Greg Gianforte’s astonishing self-promotion tour is continuing at a new institution, this time my alma matter, Carroll College. Noting that Gianforte has drawn criticism at other colleges across the state for his support for the Montana Family Foundation’s anti-gay agenda, his opposition to Bozeman’s anti-discrimination ordinance, and his donations to a museum that teaches creationism, Carroll President Tom Evans brushed aside those concerns:
“I can’t speak to Greg Gianforte’s religious or political beliefs. Our conversations revolve around engineering, computer science, technology and entrepreneurship,” he said.
Since 1978, Carroll’s mission statement has affirmed the rights of dignity and equality of opportunity to all, “especially to minorities”:
Moreover, Carroll College rededicates its spiritual, academic, and social resources to the service of the citizens of Montana, its home, and to the worldwide human family through continuing efforts to guarantee to individuals, to groups, and especially to minorities the right to life, to personal and social dignity, and to equality of opportunity in all aspects of human activity.
It’s hard to argue that Gianforte represents those values, as the primary funder for both the Montana Family Foundation and a museum that teaches creationism, something I suspect the excellent biology professors at Carroll would object to.
The Montana Human Rights Network best described the position taken by the Gianfortes through their foundation:
The Gianforte Foundation donates heavily to anti-gay and anti-public education organizations like the Montana Family Foundation. The Gianforte’s and the Montana Family Foundation are also active in the opposition to our efforts for local non-discrimination policies.
I’m not sure what’s worse: that Carroll is endorsing the viewpoint of someone who is bankrolling one of the most fierce proponents of anti-gay hate speech and legislation in Montana or that they are willing to overlook his support for such an organization simply because of the promise of money.
I’m not advocating that Montana schools censor the Gianfortes, but that they give some thought to the kind of person they give implicit endorsement to through these kinds of invitations. No one can argue that Mr. Gianforte hasn’t been a tremendous success in the business world, but it’s certainly fair to ask whether that success has come with values and compassion that reflect the values of an institution like Carroll.