Consider David Koch, who lives in New York City. Recently he gave $100 million big ones to the New York-Presbyterian Hospital. He has donated $20 million to the American Museum of Natural History and another $100 million to the City Center of Music & Drama. In 2012, he gave $10 million to the Mount Sinai Medical Center and $65 million to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He has also given money to his alma mater, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to the American Ballet Theatre and to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Of course, many New Yorkers have been grateful. Yet there are the noisy critics. Two unions called rallies against David Koch's donations to New York-Presbyterian Hospital, citing the Koch brothers' opposition to Obamacare. Apparently, the Kochs are not allowed to have ideas on medical policy, if they are going to enjoy the privilege of giving money to medical care.
More recently the brothers gave a $25 million donation to the United Negro College Fund, the fund's fifth largest donation in history. Armstrong Williams tells us in the Washington Times that the grant was greeted with hysteria. Harry Belafonte called it the gift of "white supremacists." Lee Saunders, head of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, broke off relations with the United Negro College Fund, and Twitter reverberated with ignorant jeremiads against "UNCF literally sell[ing] 'their soul to the devil' accepting checks from the Koch Brothers without knowing their evil history."
In a day when Bill Clinton and Dick Scaife can smoke the peace pipe, what explains this sort of uncivilized outburst against generous non-political philanthropy? It is irrational and hateful. Yet that is where our politics is heading today. Clinton and Scaife are the exceptions. The response to the Koch brothers is more normative, and, frankly, it worries me.