A billionaire venture capitalist has sparked a furor with a worried letter to the Wall Street Journal. In the brief piece, Tom Perkins notes "the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany (and) its war on its 'one percent,' namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the 'rich.'" He continues: "From the Occupy movement to the demonization of the rich embedded in virtually every word of our local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent." Perkins closes his letter with a comparison to vicious attacks against Jews in Germany in 1938: "Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent 'progressive' radicalism unthinkable now?"
The letter has drawn a flood of criticism, not least from the company Perkins founded, NPR notes."Tom Perkins has not been involved in KPCB in years," Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers tweeted. "We were shocked by his views expressed today in the WSJ and do not agree."
- Other reactions from Perkins' peers, via Bloomberg: "Maybe it’s time for KP to shorter its name to K?," asks entrepreneur Mark Suster, referring to Kleiner Perkins. "There’s no one in our industry who would agree with (Perkins)," tweets Will Porteous.
- "In short, criticizing the techno-affluent, and their at times unwanted transformation of San Francisco, is tantamount to one of the most horrific events in Western history," writes Sam Biddle at Valleywag, calling the note "one of the most disgustingly tone deaf statements on class tensions we've ever seen."
- In Salon, Elias Isquith notes that Kristallnacht "was an act of coordinated barbarism done in service of the Nazis’ ultimate goal, the expulsion (and, later, elimination) of Europe’s Jewish population. American progressives, on the other hand, would like to see Tom Perkins pay more in taxes."
- In a follow-up email to Bloomberg, Perkins points out that San Francisco protesters broke businesses' windows, but the media "focuses its wrath on the one percent," he writes. "In the Nazi area it was racial demonization, now it is class demonization."