A good rule to follow when hoping to be taken seriously is not to equate the deliberate killing of specific groups of people based on their race, religion or political affiliation with anything other than the deliberate killing of specific groups of people based on their race, religion or political affiliation. For the most part, people follow this guideline without even having to think about it, but every now and then, emotionally charged issues come up and cause them to stray. For billionaires, there is no more emotionally-charged issue than that of their money. Back in 2010, Blackstone chief Stephen Schwarzman told board members of a non-profit that “the struggle with the [Obama] administration over increasing taxes on private equity” was “like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.” In the lead up to the 2012 election, hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman remarked to the New Yorker: “…the largest and greatest country in the free world took a forty-seven year-old guy that never worked a day in his life and made him in charge of the free world. Not totally different from taking Adolf Hitler in Germany and making him in charge of Germany because people were economically dissatisfied.” The outcry that followed those references to the Third Reich ensured two years without a persecuted job-creator reaching for a Hitlerian metaphor.* This, apparently, was time enough for the lesson to be unlearned by one Tom Perkins.
As you’ve likely heard by now, late Friday afternoon, the Wall Street Journal printed a letter to the editor written by Perkins entitled “Progressive Kristallnacht Coming?” Perkins was identified as “A founder of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers,” a biographical detail that subsequently forced the venture capital firm to essentially disavow its relationship with one of the guys on its letterhead, tweeting:
There aren’t many major corporations that wouldn’t squirm a little bit to have namesakes throwing Kristallnacht around in letters to the editor. Unfortunately for KPC&B, the 184 words that followed made the headline seem reasonable. Let’s take a look.
Writing from the epicenter of progressive thought, San Francisco, I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its “one percent,” namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the “rich.”
Perkins’s tremendous examples of indignities against the “rich,” including the apparently wide-spread criticism of his ex-wife (and the ensuing full-throated defense of her):
There is outraged public reaction to the Google buses carrying technology workers from the city to the peninsula high-tech companies which employ them. We have outrage over the rising real-estate prices which these “techno geeks” can pay. We have, for example, libelous and cruel attacks in the Chronicle on our number-one celebrity, the author Danielle Steel, alleging that she is a “snob” despite the millions she has spent on our city’s homeless and mentally ill over the past decades.
Perkins’s final thought, which is that the above examples of persecution of the rich make him think not simply of the Holocaust in general but specifically of the two nights in 1938 when the windows of Jewish-owned stores, buildings, and houses of worship were shattered.
This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent “progressive” radicalism unthinkable now?
OR IS THE TRASHING OF A BEST-SELLING AUTHOR OF BODICE-RIPPING LOVE TOMES, A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN WHO JUST HAPPENED TO INSPIRE THIS BUDDING ROMANCE NOVELIST,** ALL TOO THINKABLE?
Earlier: Stephen Schwarzman Having Difficulty Forming An Opinion On Current Administration; Leon Cooperman’s Beef With President Obama Involves An Unsolicited Copy Of His 14 Year-Old Granddaughter’s Self-Published Memoirs And Not One Handwritten Thank-You Note In Return
*At least publicly or in the presence of a reporter.
**From the WSJ, Jan. 14, 2006:
Silicon Valley financier Tom Perkins says a British television studio proposed in 2003 that he star in a reality TV show: he would date a string of young women, then marry one of them. He turned the offer down, but thought the idea might make a good novel. He jotted down a 12-page outline and gave it to his ex-wife — Danielle Steel. Ms. Steel, a queen of romance writing, turned the tables. “I said, ‘You have to write this. This would be much better from a man’s perspective,’ ” Ms. Steel recalls. The result is Mr. Perkins’s soon-to-be published book, “Sex and the Single Zillionaire,” which features a handsome investment banker who agrees to participate in a TV dating show. Sex scenes are sprinkled throughout, as readers glide from a Manhattan penthouse to exotic islands to a lavish yacht…Mr. Perkins, who surprised business associates with this latest venture, notes in the book that “for better of worse, no ‘ghost’ did the writing.” The main character, a dashing widower in his 60s, and his grown son, came from his own imagination, he says. He described them this way: “They were obviously father and son, with the same tall, athletic build. They were so handsome that they could have made money modeling, if anyone could afford to hire them. The aura of money seemed to float around them.” …
As the book’s title indicates, there are spicy scenes, including one where the hero has a fling with an energetic young woman named Eve, who provides him with Viagra, among other things: “He could feel arousal beginning to stir in his loins. Hand in hand they returned to the stateroom.” When she asks, “Shall I put on a new disc, darling?” he suggests some “great J.S. Bach” that he owns. Instead, she puts on a pornographic video.