Benefactor Tom Phillips: “In a dangerous world, ignorance can be costly”

June 23, 2011  |  DONOR SPOTLIGHT

IWP recently invited Tom Phillips to discuss his longtime involvement in supporting the Institute's work. Mr. Phillips is a philanthropist and Chairman of Eagle Publishing, whose periodicals, books, and book clubs give readers up-to-the-minute news as well as in-depth analysis and commentary on the events that shape our world.

What makes our nation great

Our country was established on the unique principle that the citizens are in charge, rather than government or a ruling class of elites.  Look at the constitutions of other countries.  Many of them are a list of "rights" that the government decides to bestow upon the people. 

In the United States, it's the other way around.  The people decide what powers the government may have.  Any rights and powers not specifically granted to government belong to the people.  As Jefferson said, we are born with certain inalienable rights.  Under our system, the government exists to make sure those rights are protected.  We run a great risk of losing our freedom when we forget the reason, nature, and purpose of government and allow it to grow too large.

Dedication to keeping our nation great

In 1990, I launched The Phillips Foundation, a non-profit organization to advance Constitutional principles, a democratic society, and a vibrant free enterprise system.  Our Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship Program has empowered more than 100 young journalists to pursue important, year-long writing projects supportive of American culture and a free society.  Our Ronald Reagan College Leaders Scholarship Program has helped level the playing field for conservative campus activists who are battling ideological conformity and political correctness on the nation's campuses.  I'm also proud of spearheading the founding of the National Conservative Campaign Fund (NCCF) in 1999. 

Ignorance can be costly

Not so long ago, a person was considered poorly educated if not exposed to the humanities, liberal arts, the basic sciences, foreign languages, and world geography - and that was to get a high school diploma!  Now, a student can get a college degree without worrying about a core curriculum.  In fact, at several Ivy League schools, students can obtain an English degree without ever being required to read Shakespeare. 

Specialization is important, but I believe those who represent and defend this country on the world stage should possess a broad knowledge of other cultures, religions, belief systems, economies, and geopolitics.  Ignorance of our own culture, heritage, history, and traditions is simply inexcusable.  It is a telling indictment of our educational system that indoctrination, political correctness, and grade inflation take precedence over the things that really matter.  It's a dangerous world, and in a dangerous world, ignorance can be very costly.

The impact of IWP

I've long been impressed by John Lenczowski's vision, drive and determination to launch and grow The Institute of World Politics against all odds.  Under John's leadership, IWP takes an entrepreneurial approach to training the nation's next generation of diplomats and national security experts.  In that respect, IWP provides a very valuable service to the nation.  Certainly, the State Department has a long and dubious tradition of selling this country short and, to paraphrase the late Jeane Kirkpatrick, blaming America first.  IWP helps to correct that imbalance through its quality courses, outstanding faculty, and clear mission.

I would like to extend my best wishes and congratulations to John Lenczowski and his colleagues on the excellent work they do at IWP to educate the next generation of America's leaders and experts in national security and international affairs.