Venture Capitalist Apologizes on 'Kristallnacht,' Not Backing Down on Class War Comments
Tuesday, January 28, 2014 01:54 PM
By: Melissa Clyne
Venture capitalist Tom Perkins has apologized for using the term "Kristallnacht" to draw parallels between the uber-wealthy — known as the 1 percent — and the 1 percent of Jews living under German rule during the time of Hitler’s rule.
In a letter to the editor published Jan. 24 in The Wall Street Journal, Perkins, a founder of Silicon Valley’s Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, suggested that Kristallnacht was metaphorically tantamount to the Occupy movement’s war on the rich.
“I used the word because during the Occupy of San Francisco by the Occupy Wall Street Crowd, they broke the windows in the Wells Fargo Bank, they marched up to our automobile strip on Van Ness Avenue and broke all the windows on all the luxury car dealerships, and I saw that, I remembered that the police (during Kristallnacht) just stood by frozen, and I thought, well, this is how Kristallnacht began, so that word was in my mind,” Perkins explained in a Bloomberg TV interview aired on the network on Monday.
At least 91 Jews died and 30,000 people were arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps during the November 1938 Kristallnacht attacks in Germany and Austria.
Kristallnacht translates as "Crystal Night" and references the legions of broken glass littering the streets following the coordinated attacks of Jewish stores, homes, businesses, and synagogues.
“It was terrible word to have chosen,” Perkins explained both in the Bloomberg interview and in a letter of apology for his misjudgment to the Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman in which he wrote that he deeply regretted any implication – overt or implied – of anti-Semitism.
He does not, however, apologize for his position that there is an ongoing, unjustified war on the rich in this country.
“As a class, we are beginning to engage in class warfare,” he said. “The rich, as a class, are threatened through higher taxes, higher regulation and so forth and so that is my message.”
The wealthy are not responsible for income inequality as they are the job creators, he noted.
“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,” according to Perkins.
He recognizes there’s a vast income gap between the classes, a situation Perkins attributes to higher costs caused by more government than is needed and a difficult economic climate for small businesses to form and prosper.
“I think the solution is less interference, lower taxes, let the rich do what the rich do, which is get richer, but along the way they bring everyone else with them when the system is working,” he said.