Today you may have noticed, if you happen to peruse random conservative websites or have facebook friends that do, a veritable storm of conservative outrage over a protest that occured over the weekend by groups who would generally be associated with the left side of politics.
What did we do to earn this ire? What has the left done that so outraged conservatives? Have we convinced mothers to abort their fully grown adult children? Have we put forward legislation to ban all forms of self-defense? Abolished the miltary while giving out free condoms and Satanic Bibles?
Allegedly, we've protested a donation of 100 million dollars to a hospital. To be fair, that's pretty bad. It's even worse than that though; we're apparently protesting it based soley on hatred of the donor, David Koch of Koch Industries. Websites like The Blaze proclaim "Here’s How Much Some Union Activists Hate the Koch Brothers". The Daily Caller runs with the headline "Liberals protest $100 million donation to hospital because David Koch gave the money"
To be honest, such a thing is truly terrible; anyone looking such a gift horse in the mouth, anyone that would deny a hospital lifesaving funds because they disagree with the politics of the donors should be ashamed of themselves.
The catch is that it's pretty much a bullshit claim.
Don't get me wrong, the donation isn't bullshit. David Koch is a cancer survivor himself and has donated prolifically over the past decade to medical research and infrastructure in a number of areas. Nor is the fact that liberals protested over the weekend bullshit. Indeed they did, including the Democratic representative of the hospital's district Ben Kallos. All that is true. There is still a very large pile of bullshit here.
When looking at the google search for Koch hospital donation as of March 11th 2014 you will see a plethora of conservative websites decrying all of what was discussed above. Out of the dozens of websites spanning multiple google result pages (yes, I went that far) there was a very consistent trend: Not a single one of them had a single quote from the protesters. Not a single one had referenced any reporter having asked the protesters why they were protesting. The closest thing to a quote came from a single tweet from one of the organizations that were present:
So I started doing some digging. I had to go multiple pages back in the google search results, farther back than I had in years, and I came across this article:
It turns out that the Nurse's union had been upset at what they perceived were changes following Koch's donation to the hospital that seemed to be anti-labor and anti-union. Whether this is the case or whether the union was overreacting to unrelated changes or occurrences we can only guess, but it seems obvious that the issues had gone back a while as the above article was from mid December. There was more to the protest than simply "Because Koch".
I had no idea how right I was.
This lead me to find that David Koch's donation to the hospital actually occured almost a year ago; it was announced on the hospitals website on April 2, 2013. So why would they be protesting a donation that occured so long ago when they've already broken ground on the new Koch Center?
Some of these conservative articles were kind enough to point out who was doing the protesting. The main "culprit" was the same Nurse's union listed in the Biz Journals artcile. The other two groups? The NAACP and another workers union.
This wasn't a protest over the 100 million, it was a protest over the influence and changes to labor that occured after the donation had been made!
I thought that would be enough. I thought that given this information there would be more than enough to tell conservatives that they needed to either modify their claims or come up with some startling evidence that it was mainly hatred of Koch that caused them to want to give up 100 million dollars.
It was so much worse than that for the conservative argument. The 100 million dollars had next to nothing to do with the protest. The Daily Kos article discussing the then upcoming protest did not even mention the 100 million, the closest thing mentioning that Koch's money goes towards hospitals already well-funded and able to give care while ignoring hospitals with heavy needs in poorer areas. The Nurse's union facebook page was silent on it too.
That's right, dozens upon dozens of conservative websites claimed liberals were protesting something they actually weren't.
Instead, the protest centered around Koch's opposition to affordable healthcare, mainly Obamacare, but other initiatives as well that would decrease availability of hospital beds. The protest also focused against the philosophy of gearing healthcare towards the ultra-wealthy, which Koch's actions support given that most of his money seems to go to hospitals that are only in wealthy areas while poorer districts are largely ignored. The only association was that the protest was being held next to the where the new hospital wing (named "The Koch Center") was being built, but also that center is two blocks away from where David Koch lives in affluent Upper Manhattan. His residence was as much of a target of the protest as the upcoming Koch Center.
You can argue against the union's politics. You can argue that they are biased. You can argue that they really, really hate David Koch. You cannot argue in good faith that this protest was simply "Because Koch" or that the only reason they didn't want the donation was because of the donor. As far as I can tell, you can't even argue that the protest had anything to do with the donation at all, let alone that it was the main focus of the event.
This isn't simply a lie, this is coordinated propaganda without any concern for the truth. Bullshit propagated to serve a political agenda focused not on human well-being but on attaining and consolidating power and privledge for people who already have more than their fair share. There is no way that this could have occurred without someone knowingly putting false information out there and not caring or perhaps even counting on it being complete and utter bullshit. No way that dozens of conservative sites all simply forgot to call up the website of the protest to see what it is they were protesting. If we are being immensely gracious to our conservative counterparts, they are guilty of terribly irresponsible journalism to the point they demonized an entire group repeatedly for the wrong reason, and twelve hours after they posted it none of those I've seen have posted so much as a mild correction let along a full retraction and apology.
What really gets to me is that we hear these "liberal horror stories" of this caliber once every few months on average. Nearly every single time, whether it is false Obamacare horror stories, or heavily edited video made trick people into thinking liberal groups were bad, nearly every time these bad stories about liberals turn out to be fake or greatly exaggerated.
Meanwhile the conservative horror stories we get on a near weekly basis are almost always confirmed to be true, whether it's new climate change denial, promotion of discredited science in the classroom, insistence on sexual education programs proven to increase abortions, unwanted pregnancies, and STD's, claiming that husbands can legally rape their wives or that rape victims can't get pregnant are even touted as strong points in conservative circles.
Go ahead and hate the democratic party, but if you are going to compare the morals and actions of the liberal and conservative movements and come up with anything less than horror when viewing the latter or understand it to be anything less than a force for repression and social regression then I do not see how you could be considered a reasonable person.