Hedge fund owner Bill Ackman’s crusade against Harvard the past few months was a lot of things: A response to pro-Palestine protesters on campus, a backlash to a disastrous congressional hearing, a demand for plagiarists to be held accountable at all levels (except for his wife).
Undergirding it all though, and especially motivating his supporters, was backlash to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies that have cropped up all over society—especially in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in 2020—that those on the right believe is a new form of racism against white Americans.
Ackman himself bemoaned that Harvard, when it brought on board Claudine Gay, whom Ackman helped oust, was only considering candidates who met certain DEI criteria.
“I learned from someone with first person knowledge of the @Harvard president search that the committee would not consider a candidate who did not meet the DEI office’s criteria,” Ackman wrote. “And it is also not good for those awarded the office of president who find themselves in a role that they would likely not have obtained were it not: for a fat finger on the scale.”
He added, in another post, that DEI must “die.”
But this weekend, Ackman announced, in advance of an X space with longshot Democratic 2024 candidate Dean Phillips today, that he would donate $1 million to Phillips’ PAC.
“On Tuesday, I am wiring $1 million to http://wedeserve.org, a political action committee that supports Dean’s run. This is by far the largest investment I have ever made in someone running for office, and I am making this investment at a high-risk, but critically important moment for his campaign. I am doing so because I believe that Dean Phillips would be a truly outstanding President of the United States, and I believe he has a credible path to winning the nomination despite what the oddsmakers may think.”
Ackman cited Phillips’ rise in the polls in New Hampshire and claimed the candidate, running to primary incumbent President Joe Biden, could pull off a stunner in the Granite State.
But on the right, where Ackman’s developed a groundswell of support, users noticed Phillips himself had a section on his webpage dedicated to DEI.
“Ackman just spent all this time fighting the DEI monster in academia only to throw his support to a guy who supports DEI as one of his staple platform items,” wrote @JordanSchanctel, calling him a World Economic Forum “bot,” intimating that for all Ackman’s recent blustering, he’s still toeing the line of capital.
“shame,” wrote one.
“very disappointing,” said another.
“Makes you wonder if this was all a setup? Gain confidence of Conservatives then try to influence them to vote for DEI supporting Democrat for President,” wrote a third.
“He was so close to seeing reality. So close to understanding,” bemoaned another.
But fret not.
Ackman, in his post announcing his donation, said that he invests with a “deep understanding” and that his key factor for success is “assessing the founder.”
And what is his assessment of the founder’s DEI stance? Just a shrug, it would seem.
“I believe @deanbphillips didn’t understand what DEI was when that was made part of his website. I made the same mistake. He is getting educated as we speak. Let’s listen to what he has to say after he gets educated,” he wrote.
A deeply researched investment indeed.