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Politics

Phil Matier: Tom Perkins’ Apology And The Perception Of Class Warfare

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Tom Perkins (Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

Tom Perkins (Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

Phil-Matier_BIO-HEAD Phil Matier
Whether it's politics, personalities or analysis Phil Matier is one of...
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tom Perkins has responded to the criticism directed at him in the wake of controversial remarks he recently penned in a Wall Street Journal letter to the editor comparing today’s treatment of wealthy Americans to the persecutions of Jews in Nazi Germany.

Since that article went to print, Perkins appeared on Bloomberg Television and read from a letter of apology he said he sent to the Ant-Defamation League addressing his use of the word Kristallnacht (referring to the night in 1938 when Nazis coordinated an attack against Jews).

Perkins denied that his reference was neither overt nor latent anti-Semitism.

He’s never been shy about his opinions or his money. He’s a working-class guy who came out of White Plains, New York rose up into the computer business and has big ideas. He also unapologetically built the world’s biggest private sailing yacht because he wanted to have it.

When it comes to controversy or getting attention he’s no stranger to it and this is just another classic example.

Arguably, the point he was making, is about the class war happening, very much so right here in San Francisco. A lot of this is being fed by the media, but there’s always going to be the haves and have-nots. The thing is now; people are starting to feel it in the middle.

It’s not just happening to San Francisco. If you look at the list of mayoral candidates going against incumbent Jean Quan in Oakland, they’re throwing around terms like “priced out” and saying they don’t want to become another San Francisco. Oakland is seen as being the Brooklyn to San Francisco’s Manhattan.

A few years ago it was the Occupy Wall Street Movement, but now it’s re-manifested itself into a more local movement to focus on Silicon Valley and the spread of tech-industry workers.

Here’s another way to look at it though: people are upset that a young group of people make too much money, go to work in a bus and label them as self-centered. Well that describes half the San Francisco Giants, but they get cheered whenever they show up in a bus. A lot of it is perception.

The bottom line is people are feeling squeezed and when Tom Perkins compares that frustration to the Nazi persecution of the Jews, that strikes another chord and people will start asking, ‘who do you think you are?’

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