American philanthropy infrastructure organisation Philanthropy Roundtable has launched a podcast called ‘Can We Talk About It’ that seeks to challenge so-called ‘cancel culture’ by diving ‘right into the topics that people are afraid or unwilling to speak about for fear of retaliation, shaming, or judgement’, according to a statement from Philanthropy Roundtable.
The first episodes will feature interviews from guests such as activist and philanthropist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, also known as a controversial critic of Islam; professors and founders of Race and the American Story Project Adam Seagrave and Stephanie Shonekan; and New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, whose op-eds are regularly challenged by Times readers. Recently, Stephens was in the news for a column about the resignation of Times staff science reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr. for using racist language – Stephens’ column was deemed unfit to print in the Times, said Publisher AG Sulzberger; it ran instead in the New York Post.
‘Can We Talk About It’ will be hosted by Debi Ghate, the Roundtable’s vice president of strategy and programmes, who previously practiced civil litigation at the Ayn Rand Institute and served on leadership teams at the Charles Koch Foundation. The Philanthropy Roundtable was founded as a conservative alternative to the liberal-leaning Council on Foundations and is known for championing a conservative version of philanthropy. Its board includes, among others, Betsy DeVos, a philanthropist who served as Education Secretary to President Trump; American conservative James Pierson; and Heather Higgins, a political commentator, businesswoman, and non-profit sector executive.
In addition to releasing its anti-cancel-culture podcast, the Roundtable has been busy taking arguments about donor privacy to the US Supreme Court. In an amicus brief filed on 5 March, Philanthropy Roundtable argued that demands made by the California Attorney General for donor information violate the First Amendment freedoms of speech, religion, and association, and undermine the long-standing tradition of donor privacy.
‘California’s actions… infringe on the rights of donors who wish to keep their charitable giving private for a wide range of reasons, including religious and moral traditions,’ said Philanthropy Roundtable CEO Elise Westhoff in a statement.