Keeping up with the Godwins

“Godwin’s Blog” ought to exist (probably does actually).  If it did, hardly an hour would go by without something to write about.  Here’s novelist Danielle Steel’s ex-husband’s letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal comparing criticism of income inequality with Kristallnacht :

Regarding your editorial “Censors on Campus” (Jan. 18): 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?

Tom Perkins

San Francisco

Mr. Perkins is a founder of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Yes, it’s unthinkable now, because, in part, this comparison makes no sense.

6 thoughts on “Keeping up with the Godwins”

  1. Tom Perkins never mentioned criticism of income inequality once in his article. His article dealt with hatred of rich people not a desire to tax their income, quite a different thing. If Lenin and Stalin had never built concentration camps for the former rich it would be easy to dismiss Perkin’s comparison, but they did. At the risk of iron-manning Perkins, given that the 20th century furnishes many examples of atrocities driven by class based antagonism, shouldn’t we find (for example) threats of violence against the 1% a bit sinister?

  2. Hi Ben, here’s Perkins: “From the Occupy movement to the demonization of the rich embedded in virtually every word of our local newspaper”. Since I’m a charitable person, I’m guessing he’s referring to criticisms of income inequality, observations on the historically low tax rates, etc.

    I’d be surprised to learn that the 2oth Century has been dominated by massacres of rich people by poor people such that this guy has grounds to worry (in America).

  3. John

    “I’d be surprised to learn that the 2oth Century has been dominated by massacres of rich people by poor people such that this guy has grounds to worry (in America).”

    But who exactly were communists massacring if not the formerly rich? Obviously these massacres extended far beyond the 1%, but they were driven in large part by class based antagonism. Further, my understanding is that the German anti-Semites were driven largely by anger over what they saw as the Jews undeserved economic success; Wilhelm Marr comes to mind as the most specific about this.

    Now I haven’t heard anyone calling for putting the rich into re-education camps, but if what this guy claims is true, I don’t see any harm telling people to calm down.

  4. Hey Ben,

    If you don’t know who the communists massacred, then you can look it up–no use doing history a priori. One thing Stalin did was purge the army. Should we be worried about that? Maybe the WSJ should publish a letter from a general of the US Army to this effect.

    But aside from that, asking that we return to the taxation of the Clinton era is different from rounding up people based on their race (and lo, the Nazis had a thing against all Jews, by the way, not just rich ones).

    Thanks, in any case, for the example of iron manning.

  5. John,

    “If you don’t know who the communists massacred, then you can look it up–no use doing history a priori…..”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kulak

    Kulaks were farmers targeted for imprisonment and sometimes death simply because of their wealth. That’s one example. The fact that jealousy of other people’s wealth sometimes inspires atrocities isn’t an argument in favor of income inequality. In fact, it strikes me as an argument against income inequality, and in favor of income redistribution. If Tom Perkins intended to dismiss criticisms of income inequality why would he mention the social strife caused by income inequality?

    More to the point Tom Perkins never mentions criticisms of income inequality; he objected to personal attacks on the rich. I realize rich people aren’t the most sympathetic group in the world, but I also agree with Perkins point, why make it personal?

  6. Gee Ben,

    Yes, more to the point, Perkins doesn’t refer to any specific criticism at all. Read it for yourself:

    “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.”

    His point, I think, is that it’s personal. My point is that he has failed to understand (or just acknowledge) the criticism these groups have made. His Godwinizing underscores that point.

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