On the Legacy of David Koch

On the Legacy of David Koch August 27, 2019

One of the weird things about the Christianist Freak Show is that you can display all the approval you like of this guy and his immensely destructive career and nobody will ever say, “Why are you distracting from the Faith to talk about politics?” But observe the obvious fact that he was a profoundly anti-life and anti-christ force in the world and that is exactly what the Christianist leap up to shout. Nonetheless, this assessment is perfectly true:

‘Koch and his legacy are as anti-life as you can possibly get, something no amount of selfishly motivated cancer research funding can cover up. I say “are” rather than “were” because even though Koch himself is gone, the corporatist bulldozer he set into motion will keep going long after he’s dead.

‘Besides spending fortunes to deprive people of health care, Koch and his repugnant sibling made their living by spewing pollution, cancer, and a host of other ailments into often poor communities. Their hostility to government regulation and insistence on unsafe working conditions led them to kill and maim workers and bystanders alike, such as the two Texas teenagers blown up by a defective Koch pipeline that led the Kochs to pay one of the largest wrongful death judgments in US history. It may be impossible to quantify exactly the damage done by the Kochs’ right-wing network, but the “welfare reform” of the ’90s alone shortened lifespans.

‘But even this repellent legacy is dwarfed by Koch and his brother’s singular contribution to the climate crisis. It is the darkest of ironies that the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s wing dedicated to the story of human evolution is named after Koch, given that, other than his brother, arguably no single individual has done more to try to shut the book on that story than Koch.

‘We’ve known for a good while that the Koch network has been funding and fuelling climate denial and inaction by the government for decades, in concert with the growth of the Kochs’ own fossil fuel-based profits. Thanks to the release of Christopher Leonard’s Kochland last week, we now also know they were on the ground floor of the fight to ensure human extinction, spreading climate denial and working against political action on the subject as early as 1991, when the world still could have embarked on a gradual transition away from fossil fuels.

‘And as the climate crisis became ever more visible and tangible in recent years, did Koch and his brother put the unimaginably colossal wealth they’d amassed from poisoning people and killing the earth toward undoing the damage they’d caused? No, they used it to kill public transit projects at the local level because these threatened Koch Industries’ bottom line, further hamstringing future efforts to prevent planetary catastrophe. To paraphrase Noam Chomsky, evil doesn’t even begin to describe this.

‘And yet, due to the limitations of language, this is the only word that comes close to describing the ghastly Koch and his vile brother: evil. David Koch was an evil man who dedicated his life to evil…

‘But ultimately, this isn’t about Koch or any of his abominable family. The only reason the Kochs have been able to do what they’ve done — just as the only reason Jeffrey Epstein was able to commit his crimes — is because of the colossal wealth they were allowed to hoard, which they parlayed into political power that they then used to set the world on the path to crisis. And if we don’t deal with this fundamental fact, there will always be more Kochs, more Epsteins, and all the other depraved elites who would happily commit us to extinction if it means another dollar.’

Only things that detract from the Right Wing Hosannas of “Wow to you who are rich!” are “distractions from preaching the gospel” in the antichrist cult of Trumpian Christianism.  That and the affirmation “blessed are you who are poor.”

God have mercy on this wretched man’s soul through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Update: A reader objects: “Look, Koch did a lot of awful things, and those things need to be talked about, not least because his brother is still out there doing them. But…Could you at least let the body cool before you start in with the takedown? Could you, at the very least, not insult the guy in literally the same sentence as you pray for God’s mercy on his soul? “Love your enemies” doesn’t only apply when your enemies are pro-choice liberals.”

The man lived a wretched evil life. He needs prayer. I would say the same of any flagrantly wicked person who died. Nobody objects when you offer such a prayer for a mob boss gunned down in a gangland hit or a drug dealer killed by an overdose. But for some reason, pious conservative Catholics reserve special tenderness for one of the rare classes of people Jesus specifically warned were in grave spiritual danger: the rich. I do not observe these Calvinist pieties of reverence for the rich. I think Jesus is right: “Woe to you who are rich.” The man was more flagrantly evil than even most rich people. If anybody needs prayer for his wretched soul, it is David Koch.

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