On Thursday, October 25, the anti-Koch liberal and progressive activists plan to protest and criticize Charles Koch and his network of organizations. This planned protest is yet another example of the Left’s constant histrionics regarding wealthy conservatives and libertarians, which has reached a fever pitch. Charles and David Koch, or as the Left calls them, “the Koch brothers,” are each worth at least $40 billion, per Forbes. Most of their money was made from Koch Industries, which is a multinational corporation involved in manufacturing, refining, and other natural resource-related activities. Koch Industries is based in Wichita, Kansas and was founded by Charles and David’s father, Fred, in 1940. One of the most notable subsidiaries of Koch Industries is Georgia-Pacific, which is better known for toilet paper and paper towels.
The Kochs have donated tens of millions of dollars to universities to establish free-market think tanks and other similar institutes across the country, thanks to grants from the Charles Koch Foundation. They also have a large political advocacy network, called the “Koch network,” which referred to their family’s last name after the retirement of David Koch due to health reasons. The more notable political advocacy organization in the Koch network is Americans for Prosperity, a free-market and economic prosperity grassroots movement of millions of activists in more than thirty states.
Yet, the Left’s “Koch brothers” refrain has not relented in light of David Koch’s retirement from the organizations and businesses he invested in, illustrating the Left’s penchant for vitriol and demonization of the libertarian-leaning family. The Left ignored David Koch’s donations to medical research, as well as Charles Koch’s donations to education causes. For example, David Koch donated $150 million to the Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital in New York City to open a cancer treatment and research center. That donation was the single-largest donation that the hospital had received and the center is slated to open in 2019, ready to serve cancer patients and their families.
The anti-Koch angst, represented in anti-Koch statements by liberal politicians such as U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, continues to try to influence the higher education space. The anti-Koch effort is dubbed, “UnKoch My Campus,” and has partnered with far-left organizations such as Greenpeace, which has been known to use extreme protest methods to try to prove its point. The George Soros-funded Center for Media and Democracy has ties to the UnKoch My Campus groups, as does the American Federation of Teachers labor union and MoveOn.org, a radical Leftist organization.
Many of the UnKoch My Campus satellite groups, either carrying the “UnKoch” nickname or “Transparency [insert university acronym],” appear to be boilerplate liberal activist group names. These groups want the universities to publish all agreements made with the Charles Koch Foundation regarding the donations to their respective universities. They also claim, in the name of transparency, that the foundation has undue influence in university activities, which the foundation has denied.
One such example of the UnKoch My Campus efforts is an offshoot group’s lawsuit against George Mason University, located in Fairfax, Virginia, in the Washington, D.C. area. Transparency GMU sued the university and the Charles Koch Foundation to reveal all of their donors for their free-market research and professor endowments. The case has not been decided yet and both GMU and the foundation deny any interference from donors in academic research.
However, it looks like this year’s nationwide “UnKoch My Campus” protest could be a dud, or a significant public relations disappointment.
This week’s UnKoch My Campus ‘Day of Action’ planned protest has no details posted online, only an e-mail sign-up form which is on the organization’s website, as if to root out possible infiltrators or reporters. The group’s theme for this year is “KochBusters,” which is homage to the popular “Ghostbusters” movie. On further examination, there is not much traction, social media-wise, on these announced protests. For example, when one takes a look at several of the UnKoch My Campus tweets, there is miniscule social media impact in the form of one ‘like’ and zero ‘retweets’ (or re-posts by other users) on Twitter.
Also, after a brief Internet search, UnKoch My Campus has been inconsistent on holding these types of protests. The last protest organized by the group on a national level was in 2015, when the event was held on November 5. But, the year before that, on November 3, 2014, the group held the protest. Now, this year, the group settled on October 25.
Comparing their 2015 announcement to this year’s, there is a major difference: the e-mail sign-up list is vague, unlike the 2015 announcement that listed all participating campus chapters. No list exists for this week’s protest.
As hard as the anti-Koch activists try, it appears this year’s protest will hardly make a ripple in the news cycle, let alone a minimal impact on higher education.