Thomas Perkins, a California multi-billionaire and venture capitalist, has attracted ridicule with a letter to The Wall Street Journal comparing criticism of super-rich Americans to the Holocaust.
He opened with the declaration: “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, whose approximate worth is thought to be around $8 billion, has a penthouse in San Francisco, where a bitter class war is brewing over the impact of rich tech employees on the city’s cost of living, the Daily Mail reported.
The letter references animosity held toward Google employees in San Francisco and an incident in which Perkins’s former wife, author Danielle Steel, was labeled a “snob” in the San Francisco Chronicle for the height of her property’s hedge.
Finally, he added: “This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendant ‘progressive’ radicalism unthinkable now?”
Kristallnacht, or “the night of broken glass,” is the German name for a series of deadly pogroms orchestrated by Nazi authorities in 1938 that many historians view as the opening shot of the Nazi genocide.
Perkins, 82, was educated at MIT and received his MBA from Harvard University. He founded Venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 1973 and has served as a director on boards of companies including Compaq.
He is also known for developing Hewlett Packard into the giant it is today, owning a 298-foot yacht called the Maltese Falcon, and penning a potboiler titled “Sex and the Single Zillionaire.”
His comments comparing criticism of the rich to the persecution and mass murder of Jews attracted criticism from many.
Kaili Joy Gray wrote on the Wonkette blog: “The parallel of Nazi Germany and some people getting kind of annoyed by the tech bro dudes is exactly ZERO.”
New York Times writer Steven Greenhouse tweeted: “As someone who lost numerous relatives to the Nazi gas chambers, I find statements like this revolting & inexplicable.”
But for all the hoopla over his letter to The Wall Street Journal, Perkins’ biggest critics may be on Amazon.com, where one reviewer of his steamy novel called it “an argument in favor of book-burning.”