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Stanley Crouch: Not everything goes better with Koch

When the Rev. Al Sharpton calls for a grand bargain to settle public-school problems in the interest of the school kids, some dismiss him as an unforgivable fraud and manipulator.

They are more concerned with bringing him down than in giving serious consideration to the issues he raises.

Allies of the teachers union in New York believe they must destroy the charter schools run by the Success Academy network under Eva Moskowitz - even though its students, like those who benefit from the enrichment programs offered by the Harlem Educational Activities Fund, do far better than their peers.

The same sort of problem pollutes Washington, where too many Democrats and Republicans who profit from a prolonged fight do whatever they must to block any grand bargain, no matter if the public ends up the biggest loser.

Consider our beleaguered billionaires, Charles and David Koch, and their adamant defender, Michele Bachmann, who certainly has spunk but not so much in the way of facts or sense.

Serving rotten red meat directly to her fellow ideologues, she suggested the Koch brothers were more or less divine messengers delivering conservative principles. Good financial presence has long been considered a divine gift in many cultures, since the beginning of recorded time. In short, profit is proof of divine grace and divine favoritism.

“I just thank God that there’s a billionaire or two on our side,” Bachmann told conservative radio host Lars Larson during an interview at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference. “All the billionaires seem to be on the radical left, so I’m glad that we have a couple on ours.”

The Minnesota Republican asserted that Democrats were part of “an intimidation movement” to stop other billionaires from supporting conservative causes.

Those thought all-powerful are not particularly intimidated easily, or put on what amounts to a choke leash. Vladimir Putin, an authoritarian oil magnate, proves this.

“I’m sure that the donors on our side don’t like to have their names vilified, and that’s what this is about, intimidating people from giving money to our cause, that’s it,” she opined, adding that Democrats should be prosecuted under RICO, the racketeering law, for their cruel intimidation of billionaires.

The Kochs may truly believe that they are being demonized by false statements, not because of righteous outrage from the public over all the ugly things they support and encourage. They are angry because they would rather live comfortably below the public radar, where no one really knew what they did and encouraged, or just what kind of men they are. That is one of the problems of living in a voting democracy. The public has a say and is not always willing to submit to one of the world’s smallest minorities, a bundle of billionaires, for whom profit trumps too many things.

Personally, I do believe the Kochs are victims — but of a very different sort. They support, sustain and propel every kind of irrational paranoia they can shake some money at. They have become innovators in the advertising world of Big Lies that become protean and slippery parts of the public’s brain waves with enough repetition.

But eventually, sense wins out. The ones fighting against the Success Academy will fall, because parents elsewhere will fight to have what works there applied to their children as well, to assert their wishes and push the facts of performance into the middle of all discussions.

Things in Congress and state capitals, where the Koch brothers are riding high at the moment, are not so sure. But the American people will eventually get it and understand why our constitutional system emphasizes both individual rights and working together to advance the common good.

As sons of their father Fred, who was second in command at the John Birch Society (which William Buckley and the National Review stripped of all conservative power because it was found to be a coven of too-easily proven thin assertions, not watertight principles); the brothers came by their willingness to deceive and to create paranoia as honestly as two boys could.

Fred was a good businessman. David and Charles are brilliant master builders of a rather huge fortune made from fossil fuels, and any kind of desecration of nature necessary to increase profit.

They, too, will go, and the nation will recover from them, as it always does from those too greedy to let a pinched penny go by.

Stanley Crouch can be reached by email at