It is our ordinary custom not to respond when a guest columnist criticizes this newspaper. We usually give them the last word. But when a group uses the space we offer to the community to mislead our readers about important matters of fact, that demands a response.

Idaho Freedom Foundation President Wayne Hoffman did exactly that in an utterly mendacious column published Friday. Hoffman, responding to an editorial in which we criticized his organization for eschewing serious policy matters and fanning the flames of the culture war to drive fundraising, accused us of supporting segregation. That’s an assertion too silly to bother with.

But Hoffman also made numerous unfounded claims and insinuations about programs at Boise State University. The record should be set straight on two matters in particular.

Claim 1: BSU diversity programs are “neo-segregation”

Hoffman paints BSU’s “Black Graduation” and “Rainbow Graduation” as separate, segregated events from the university’s main graduation ceremony. They aren’t. There are no separate commencements at Boise State University. Hoffman has been corrected on this point repeatedly, but he hasn’t changed his rhetoric. At this point, it can’t be called a mistake. It’s a lie, or at the very least an intentional effort to mislead.

The events are two among a whole swath of side ceremonies for interest groups, religious organizations and a host of other groups within the college to hold their own celebrations focused on their own experiences. White people can celebrate at black graduation. Straight people can celebrate at rainbow graduation. There is simply no issue of segregation here.

Hoffman sites the National Association of Scholars as an authority, using its term “neo-segregation.” That group has a neutral, authoritative-sounding name, but it’s actually a rather small, fringe campus activist group with a history of pushing to change college curricula to fit its ideology.

All of this disingenuous rhetoric trivializes the reality of segregation and discrimination, including where it is ongoing, with legal sanction, in Idaho. In fact, Hoffman has consistently fought reform on that issue.

It is legal in Idaho to fire or evict a person because they are LGBT. Hoffman and the Idaho Freedom Foundation have been active, vocal opponents of ending the exclusion of LGBT Idahoans from the state’s civil rights law, which already forbids discrimination based on {span}race, sex and religion, among other categories.{/span} In 2015, for example, Hoffman called mere debate over adding the words a “slap in the face to Idahoans.”

Claim 2: BSU diversity programs are “divisive”

There was no controversy over these programs until the Idaho Freedom Foundation set out to create one. There was no outcry from students or professors or community groups, who’ve mostly come out to defend the programs subsequently.

The Freedom Foundation is entirely responsible for the division that has been sewn around this issue. And division is the whole point — because it’s useful for raising money.

Rather than focusing on some serious area of policy in which it could play a positive role — as the group has on subjects including criminal justice reform and drug policy — the Freedom Foundation has chosen to home in on the kind of cultural controversy that leads to big arguments on Facebook, which means more followers, and hopefully more donors.

The Freedom Foundation has sent out fundraising emails invoking the controversy, and now offers supporters the option to donate $50 to send a copy of a book that Amazon sells for less than $13 to a university official. That’s 74 percent markup, enough to make a pharmaceutical company blush.

Sewing this kind of division may be good for the Freedom Foundation’s bottom line, but it’s bad for yours. As we noted previously, Idaho National Laboratory relies on a highly diverse workforce to remain the nation’s top nuclear energy lab. That workforce spills over into our local economy, and secondary companies related to the lab’s nuclear and cybersecurity missions have sprung up all over.

The workforce is aging rapidly, so recruitment is a top priority for the lab.

These are the kinds of jobs that would allow your kids to build an economically viable life here in Idaho, rather than leaving in search of a job with a decent wage as so many young Idahoans are now doing. These are the kinds of jobs that the Freedom Foundation is putting at peril for its own, narrow benefit.

The Post Register’s editorial board consists of Publisher Travis Quast, Managing Editor Monte LaOrange and editorial writer Bryan Clark. Clark can be reached at 208-542-6751.