Leftists say United Negro College Fund Made a Deal With ‘the Devil’ When It Accepted $25m from Koch Brothers
“No good deed will go unpunished.”
That saying must have run through the minds of Charles and David Koch – “the Koch brothers” – after news of their $25 million gift to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) was denounced by some progressives on Twitter as a deal with “the devil.”
Critics contend the money is tainted because the Kochs are libertarians who believe in limited government. If those beliefs are ever fully realized, left-wing critics say, they would destroy the government programs that African-Americans and other minorities rely on to get by in life.
One of those critics is University of Pennsylvania professor Marybeth Gasman. Gasman says that while many individual students will benefit from the scholarships, it is still “wrong” for UNCF leaders to take these funds.
Gasman tells InsideHigherEd.com that Koch organizations have been “deeply affiliated with the Tea Party,” which has repeatedly tried to undermine the interests and political activities of African- Americans and institutions that support them.
For evidence, Gasman and other critics point to the Kochs’ support of groups that have been involved in strengthening voter ID laws, action that leftists interpret as trying to prevent minorities from voting. The billionaire brothers contend the voter ID debate is not one of their pet issues.
“I think it is very, very important to think about who you are taking money from,” Gasman tells the news site. “Yes, that money can do a lot of good for students. But it allows that organization to have quite a bit of influence.”
Gasman would apparently prefer that needy African-American students not go to college than to do so with the help of the Koch brothers. That position is not only intellectually bankrupt, it’s also morally indefensible.
Gasman is right about one thing, however: the Koch’s UNCF endowment will do a lot of good.
InsideHigherEd.com reports $18.5 million of the grant will be doled out in $5,000-a-year scholarships to qualifying undergraduate students, with another $4 million dedicated to helping students who have been denied PLUS loans (a parent loan program) and have dropped out of school as a result.
Still, the progressives wonder: Maybe the devious Kochs will only award scholarships to black kids who agree with them politically?
According to InsideHigherEd.com, recipients of the UNCF/Koch Scholars Program will be “exemplary students with demonstrated financial need and an interest in the study of how entrepreneurship, economics, and innovation contribute to well-being for individuals, communities, and society.”
UNCF President Michael Lomax tells the news site there will be “no political tests” on scholarship recipients and adds that students who want to study economics from a left-wing perspective could qualify for a grant.
Mediaite writer Daniel Bier summed up the controversy nicely in his recent column:
“Progressives often attack conservatives and libertarians for ‘putting profits before people,’ but the case of the Koch brothers shows, in no uncertain terms, that many are willing to put politics before people. To me, that seems petty, perverse, and profoundly disturbing. What does it say about our political discourse that some would rather leave kids in poverty than in college, because it might help them score political points?”