A wealthy American venture capitalist has come under fire for comparing criticism of the "successful one percent" to the plight of Jews in Nazi Germany.
Thomas Perkins, a founder of leading venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, who reportedly has a net worth of $8 billion, penned a letter to the Wall Street Journal that was published Friday.
"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 wrote.
San Francisco, like other American cities, is embroiled in a battle over cost of living. Tech companies are being blamed for driving up rent, and shuttle buses and ferries that bring workers to the Google offices have become symbols of the city's new class warfare.
In his letter to the editor, Perkins took shots at those who are vilifying 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," he wrote.
He went on to describe the "outraged public reaction" to rising real estate prices and to the Google buses, and also mentioned "libelous and cruel attacks" in the San Francisco Chronicle against author Danielle Steel – Perkins' ex-wife.
He concludes his letter: "This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent 'progressive' radicalism unthinkable now?"
Perkins' comparison elicited harsh responses both on Twitter and from journalists. Slate's Matt Yglesias tweeted his reaction piece under the headline "Rich idiot warns of 'progressive Kristallnacht,' while the New York Times' Steven Greenhouse tweeted "As someone who lost numerous relatives to the Nazi gas chambers, I find statements like this revolting & inexplicable."
Perkins sits on the board of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., which owns the Wall Street Journal.