WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Anti-Defamation League accepted the “heartfelt apology” from a venture capitalist who likened criticism of the wealthy to Kristallnacht.
“We believe that Mr. Perkins now realizes why his Holocaust comparison was so offensive,” the ADL said in a statement after a long conversation Monday between Thomas Perkins and the ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman.
“He deeply regrets his words, which he made in the ‘heat of the moment,’ and has assured us that he will make efforts to publicly apologize to all those he offended,” the statement said. “We accept his apology, and now consider the matter closed.”
Perkins, who is based in San Francisco, on Friday had a letter published in The Wall Street Journal drawing parallels between progressives in that city and the Nazis.
“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,’ ” he wrote. “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.”
In ending the letter, Perkins wrote, “This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendant ‘progressive’ radicalism unthinkable now?”
In a letter to The Wall Street Journal written before Perkins had called to apologize, Foxman had said that Perkins’ letter to the paper helped “cheapen and coarsen” American discourse.
“He discredits himself and his argument by leaping to the absurd conclusion that class differences in America are stirring up sentiments similar to the virulent anti-Semitism that led to the deaths of six million Jews and millions of others in the Holocaust,” Foxman had written. “This is historical trivialization of the worst kind imaginable.”
Perkins, 82, a founder of the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, also apologized Monday evening in an interview on Bloomberg Television.
“I deeply apologize to you and anyone who has mistaken my reference to Kristallnacht as a sign of overt or latent anti-Semitism,” he said in an interview Monday on Bloomberg Television. “This is not the case.”
Perkins told Bloomberg Television that the letter was “a terrible misjudgment.” But, he added, “I do not regret the message at all. Any time the majority starts to demonize any minority, no matter what it is, it is wrong and dangerous.”