Singer Harry Belafonte, famous for The Banana Boat Song, may seem like an odd person to be commenting on the infamous Koch brothers, but he has actually been involved in politics and activism for decades. He was part of the Civil Rights movement and has continued to be a supporter of humanitarian activism. This past Sunday, while stumping for New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, he called out the Koch brothers and what they choose to put their money behind.
During his speech Belafonte is quoted as saying, “They make up the heart and the thinking in the minds of those who would belong to the Ku Klux Klan. They are white supremacists. They are men of evil. They have names . . . The Koch brothers, that’s their name.” The remarks have caused some backlash against de Blasio from Conservatives, who as usual seem incredulous that a group like the Tea Party who continually makes racist remarks and support racist ideas and policies could possibly be associated with racism, but ultimately had little to no effect on the race.
Politico spoke to Koch Industries spokesperson Rob Tappan, who as usual tried to turn the rhetoric around and paint Belafonte as the hateful one, even going so far as to laughably refer to the Kochs as having, “devoted their lives to advancing tolerance and a free society.” In what alternate universe do TEApublicans support tolerance and a truly free society? The only freedom they support is the freedom to carry a gun, be white, and be an evangelical Christian. And tolerance? The only tolerance they want is for the rest of us to tolerate their bigotry.
The Republican supporters responding to the remarks missed the point. Mr. Belafonte is specifically discussing the Tea Party groups that the Kochs support financially, and how those groups in turn represent the worst of bigoted society. The Koch brothers are well known to back groups like Freedom Partners, Americans for Prosperity, and FreedomWorks. These are all groups that have benefited handily from the Koch supported Citizens United decision, and all of them have since spent hundreds of millions of dollars pushing Conservative ideology and backing Tea Party candidates.