— Bloomberg TV (@BloombergTV) January 27, 2014
As a recent Pew poll shows fewer and fewer Americans identify as “middle class”, plutocrat Tom Perkins decided to double down on his narrative that progressives, specifically those aligned with Occupy Wall Street, are akin to the Nazi Party. Perkins had initially invoked Kristallnacht – a riot in Germany that targeted Jewish property and religious symbols – to characterize the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations and their “demonization” of a rich minority like him.
From Perkins’ Op-Ed:
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.”
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. 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.
This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendant “progressive” radicalism unthinkable now?
Now Perkins says he is sorry he used the word Kristallnacht but stands behind his critique. “I don’t regret the message at all. Anytime the majority starts to demonize the minority, no matter what it is, it’s wrong and dangerous and no good comes from it.”
The Nazi example is problematic for a number of reasons. Beyond the fact that Occupy are anti-Fascist, to a degree that many felt frustrated by the lack of centralized decision making and hierarchy, is the historical record of how the Nazi Party came to power and expanded its influence.
Mr. Perkins might be interested to know that it was his victimized 1% that helped rearm Germany under the Nazis. From financiers at Brown Brothers Harriman, to technology companies like IBM (those numeric tattoos on the wrists of concentration camp inmates were IBM code), to General Motors’ Opal company that produced trucks for the Nazis. And how can we forget about wonderfully refreshing Fanta, the Nazi drink from Coca-Cola.
In short, it was America’s brilliant 1% entrepreneurs and financiers that helped build Nazi Germany’s war machine that terrorized the world and exterminated millions in concentration camps. Does this mean American business today is akin to the Nazis? No. But if we are going to start drawing comparisons about which groups of Americans resemble fellow travelers with the Third Reich Mr. Perkins might not enjoy the result.