May 16, 2019; New York Times, “Opinion”
In an op-ed published on the New York Times website yesterday and scheduled for publication in the Sunday print edition, Anand Giridharadas noted that the Metropolitan Museum of Art joined the Tate and the Guggenheim in rejecting Sackler money. He writes, “For far too long, generosity has been allowed to serve as a wingman of injustice; giving back disguises merciless taking; making a difference becomes inseparable from making a killing—sometimes literally. It is high time to reject these alibis for treachery.”
Giridharadas hopes that awareness is growing of nonprofit complicity in helping the very rich to scrub their reputations and purchase “the immunity needed to profiteer at the expense of the common welfare.” He points to a lawsuit filed by New York State that explicitly links Sackler philanthropy to purposeful attempt to coverup their responsibility in the opioid crisis. “Ultimately, the Sacklers used their ill-gotten wealth to cover up their misconduct with a philanthropic campaign intending to whitewash their decades-long success in profiting at New Yorkers’ expense,” reads the complaint.
Giridharadas believes there is an increasing sensitivity to using blood money in work that intends to strengthen civil society and community health and well-being:
When I speak privately with people working in nonprofits, as I often do, especially younger people, I hear this complaint again and again: They agonize about having to stay quiet not only about their donors’ membership in a class that has benefited from an age of inequality but also about specific conduct by many donors that often