David Koch was a human being. No matter what you thought of his politics, cheering on his death isn’t really a good look.
That’s exactly what happened, however, during a Bernie Sanders event in Minnesota when someone asked a question that involved the “oligarch” and his passing. Sadly, those who cheered the news were hardly alone.
David Koch was, of course, one of the Koch brothers; along with older brother Charles Koch, David gave a significant chunk of his wealth away, including a not insignificant amount to conservative causes.
Of the $1.3 billion donated to philanthropic causes, The Daily Caller noted, plenty went to art, education and other cultural projects. But Koch donated to said conservative causes and didn’t believe that fossil fuels were the devil, so that made him evil.
That takes us to the Q&A portion of the Sanders’ appearance at the Minnesota State Fair on Saturday in which one of the questioners brought up Koch’s passing on Friday in a very tactful fashion.
“Yesterday, oligarch David Koch passed away,” the man said. This was followed by a cheer and applause from the audience.
“And we’re going to be dealing with his pollution and the radicalization of his politics. He’s made a killing off of the misery of other people, and I want to talk about retroactive justice,” the man said.
“How would you follow up for the victims of folks who are coming down in the future generations?”
To his credit, the Vermont senator gave the crowd a mild chastising for raising a cheer over someone’s death.
“I don’t applaud, you know, the death of somebody,” Sanders began. “We needn’t do that.”
“I think what we can say is that the Koch brothers and other billionaires, because of this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, have been able to spend hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to represent the wealthy and the powerful, and the fossil fuel industry, which is where the Koch brothers made a lot of their money,” he continued.
The Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court case held that the First Amendment prohibited federal limits on independent political spending.
Sanders went on to talk about his criminal justice plan, which apparently has something to do with “retroactive justice.” (I have no idea what that phrase means and neither, I suspect, did either the man who asked the question or the socialist who answered it.) However, what was important was that it was another ugly moment in what’s been a very ugly weekend for the left when it comes to Koch’s death.
Here are some other fantastic responses to Koch’s death. WARNING: Some bad language ahead, because of course. Even a man’s death has to be greeted with this sort of awful language these days. Reader discretion is advised:
Here’s Keith Boykin, author and CNN commentator:
David Koch wanted to abolish public schools, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and rent control. He financed groups that denied the research on climate change. He funded the Tea Party. And he used dark money to support right-wing causes and Republican candidates for office. https://t.co/x08wiaOh9p
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) August 23, 2019
When fellow CNNer S.E. Cupp chastised those who were celebrating Koch’s death, here’s what singer John Legend said:
When you spend so much $ and influence to dismantle the state and destroy the planet, it really isn’t enough to donate even millions to offset that damage. @AnandWrites wrote a great book re: this called Winners Take All. I found it quite illuminating and useful.
— John Legend (@johnlegend) August 25, 2019
The book he referenced is by Anand Giridharadas and, according to the Amazon description of it, it’s a “New York Times bestselling, groundbreaking investigation of how the global elite’s efforts to ‘change the world’ preserve the status quo and obscure their role in causing the problems they later seek to solve.” Pretty even-handed stuff I’d say, and definitely worth bringing up when a man’s just died.
Oh, and here’s artist Rob Sheridan:
Good riddance David Koch, you absolutely evil sack of ass. I hope you suffered.
— Rob Sheridan (@rob_sheridan) August 23, 2019
Here’s New York Times and CNN contributor Wajahat Ali:
Koch Brothers have done many terrible things during their lifetimes that have hurt many people. For us still living, they serve as examples of how wealth, power & selfish goals corrupt men w/ otherwise great potential. Hopefully we can learn how to be better & undo their damage.
— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) August 25, 2019
Bill Maher, of course, managed to take the cake with his “condolences” on his HBO show: “Yesterday, David Koch, of the zillionaire Koch brothers, died of prostate cancer. I guess I’m going to have to reevaluate my low opinion of prostate cancer,” he said.
“He and his brother have done more than anybody to fund climate science deniers for decades, so f— him. The Amazon is burning up. I’m glad he’s dead, and I hope the end was painful.”
There’s a pretty good takeaway from this apart from pointing out the usual hypocrisy of how the left can and does get profoundly nasty and then expects members of the right to behave like saints.
We’re always told by people who heap invective on conservatives and Republicans that they’re not heaping that invective upon them because they want to spread toxic opinions about all conservatives and Republicans. It’s just the current batch, they’ll say — that’s the real problem. The old Republicans were never like that.
That’s why John McCain and Mitt Romney get plenty of praise these days — not because they’re criticizing current Republican leadership, we’re told, but because they were willing to go their own way. (Of course, the media line on McCain and Romney when they were running for president was significantly different and nowhere near as laudatory, but shush about that.)
Well, David Koch went his own way, too. He was an advocate of criminal justice reform and same-sex marriage, two issues that definitely aren’t typical Republican fodder. He also loathed Donald Trump and made no attempt to hide it.
But there’s the rub: He was one of the Koch brothers. He had opinions and took actions the left didn’t like — particularly regarding fossil fuels and their use — and so, therefore, for Maher crowd, it’s not a bad thing that he’s dead.
For leftists, it’s something worth cheering, in fact. They can “hope the end was painful” and that he “suffered.” They think that’s perfectly fine.
Yes, the left “needn’t do that,” as Sanders said. But they’re going to anyway, and it says a lot.
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