Totally ignorant rich old white guy Tom Perkins delivered a cringe-inducing non-apology last night for his letter to the Wall Street Journal that compared the war on America’s rich to the Nazis’ persecution of Jews.
In an interview yesterday, Bloomberg TV anchor Emily Chang grilled Mr. Perkins on whether he regretted writing the incredibly insensitive letter. To summarize Mr. Perkins’s response, he doesn’t feel particularly bad about making a Holocaust comparison to illustrate the hardships faced by America’s rich—he really only regrets using the word “Kristallnacht” in his comparison. Okay.
“I don’t apologize for writing the letter,” he said in the interview. “I should not have used that awful word.”
And even when it comes to referencing Kristallnacht, he doesn’t seem all that apologetic.
“It was a terrible word to have chosen,” he said. “I, like many, have tried to understand the 20th century and the incomprehensible evil of the Holocaust. It can’t be explained—even to try to explain it is questionable—it’s wrong, it’s evil. Now, I used the word because during the Occupy of San Francisco… they broke the windows in the Wells Fargo bank, they… broke all the windows in all the luxury car dealerships… the police just stood by frozen, and I thought, well, this is how Kristallnacht began. So that word was in my mind.”
In other words, “I shouldn’t have used the word Kristallnacht, but tbh, Occupy San Franciso was basically Kristallnacht.”
Next—brace yourselves, people—Mr. Perkins insists that his late business partner Eugene Kleiner, who fled Hitler’s Austria and fought in the U.S. Army, probably would have been A-okay with the letter he wrote.
“[Mr. Kleiner] taught me, ‘Never imagine that the unimaginable cannot become real’,” Mr. Perkins said. “He was never comfortable with the extreme political currents in America, and never took our freedom from demonization for granted. I believe that he would have understood my Wall Street Journal letter and would have agreed with the warning.”
Granted, we didn’t know Mr. Kleiner at all, but something tells us it’s wrong to assume that one of Hitler’s escaped victims would liken his harrowing experience to the public outcry over a Google bus. Also, there’s not really any credibility in telling us what a dead person probably would have thought.
Next, Mr. Perkins attempted to clarify his overall message, and impressed us by using the word Kristallnacht again.
“The Jews were only one percent of the German population,” he said. “Most Germans had never met a Jew, and yet Hitler was able to demonize the Jews, and Kristallnacht was one of the earlier manifestations, but there had been others before it, and then of course we know about the evils of the Holocaust. I guess my point was that when you start to use hatred against a minority, it can get out of control.”
Then he tried to make everybody feel bad for rich people again (“It’s absurd to demonize the rich for being rich and for doing what the rich do, which is get richer by creating opportunity for others”), and then he and Ms. Chang started chatting amiably about his AIRPLANE THAT FLIES UNDERWATER. We rest our case.
At least he took the time to clarify that he’s not a billionaire, you guys—just a measly multi-millionaire.