The Corner

Culture

Harry Reid, Call Your Office

Today’s Washington Post:

A forthcoming book by New Yorker writer Jane Mayer says that the father of the politically influential Koch Brothers helped build a refinery in Germany in the 1930s that was important to the Nazi war effort.

Mayer’s book, “Dark Money,” examines the role played by a handful of super-rich families in the evolution of the political right in the United States, from the Gilded Age of the last century to the Tea Party today. She describes the donor network assembled by the Kochs, which has committed to spend hundreds of millions this election year, as returning the country to an era when the super rich got their way by underwriting federal office-holders and their election campaigns.  The recent spike in largely secret spending, she maintains, has had a profound effect on state and local as well as national politics, and helps explain the lack of progress in the United States in addressing problems such as global warming and income inequality.

So. They finally did it. The Koch Bros. aren’t just like Nazis; they basically are Nazis. Papa Koch probably lunched at The Eagle’s Nest and watched Jesse Owens from Hitler’s box; heck, maybe he even funneled money through a Super PAC to help Hitler become chancellor. And now his sons are carrying on his legacy, destroying the American Way with their dirty Nazi money.

That’s not exaggerating:

Mayer writes that the family patriarch, Fred Koch, admired German discipline so much in the 1930s that he hired a fervent Nazi as a governess for his eldest boys. “Dark Money” suggests that the experience of being toilet trained by a Nazi may have contributed to Charles Koch’s antipathy toward government today.

It was probably just like The Sound of Music, except virulent anti-Semitism was one of Julie Andrews’ favorite things.

For context, Mayer is the author of a 10,000-word New Yorker essay on the Kochs, in which she detailed how Fred Koch’s company also built refineries for Joseph Stalin in the 1930s — something Fred regretted, and an experience that made him a vehement anti-Communist. The profile is, to put it mildly, unsympathetic.

And what does this latest revelation have to do with Charles and David Koch, and their political efforts? Nothing, of course — except to guilt them by association, to insinuate that, because their father conducted business in Germany in 1933, his sons must have marched in Skokie and be pining for Koch Industries über alles, and that their opinions and causes are obviously, by default, illegitimate.

That’s a disgusting impulse — and, in a country predicated on free political expression, an alarming one.

(P.S. Mayer apparently takes swings at a number of other conservative megadonors: Richard Mellon Scaife, the Bradleys, and the DeVoses. For what I’ll just go ahead and assume is a more balanced assessment of those figures, read John Fund on Dick Scaife and on the annual Bradley Prizes established by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation — about which Ward Connerly has written eloquently, too. And as for the DeVos family, they were the recipients of the National Review Institute’s first annual Buckley Prize for Leadership in Supporting Liberty in 2014.)​

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