Of all the times for the public to learn of Dan Loeb's tendency to compare public servants to the Ku Klux Klan, this one is undoubtedly the worst. Late last week, recall, the hedge fund manager opined that “hypocrites like [New York State Senate leader Andrea] Stewart-Cousins who pay fealty to powerful union thugs and bosses do more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood.” Then a bunch of actual white supremacists rallied in Virginia and one of their followers plowed a car into a throng of protestors, killing one.
As it turns out, comparing an African-American state senator to the KKK wasn't just a one-off slip of Loeb's. Indeed, it seems to be one of his favorite talking points when it comes to his pet issue: making education great again via charter schools.
This post from Loeb's overactive Facebook page comes to us from a source who tells us it was posted in 2016:
Here's the money quote [sic]:
If you truly believe that education is the dividing line (and I concurr) then you must recognizer and take up the fight against the teachers union, the biggest single force standing in the way of quality education and an organization that has done more to perpetuate poverty and discrimination against people of color than the KKK.
Perhaps at a less toxic period in our nation's history, impassioned flubs like this would be swept aside as another ultimately forgettable instance of hedge funder letting his tongue get ahead of his brain, and life would go on as usual for the interested parties. But this isn't that time. On Monday the head of charter school authorizing in New York tweeted this:
The context: Dan Loeb is the Board of Directors
">chair of the board at Success Academies, the largest charter school network in New York and a powerful union foe. Loeb has offered up his apologies and so far it seems Success won't kick him out. We'll see how that goes.
There's an obvious lesson here for those whose political capital is exceeded by their capital-capital: Your benefactors are probably more interested in the latter. Sounding off in an activist campaign involving a public company bears surprisingly little resemblance to sounding off in an activist campaign involving public employees. Stick to picking stocks.
[A personal note: As a former public school employee who belonged to both Teach For America and the local teachers union, I can't tell from Loeb's comments whether I should in fact don a hood. Some guidance on this point would be appreciated. I'd also be curious to know why it is, in Loeb's estimation, that right-to-work states with weaker unions have even more trouble educating their youngsters.]