Yesterday was Halloween in the United States where children dress up and try to scare people as they “trick-or-treat” for candy. Yet the only horror I experienced was watching Peter Thiel stand in front of a national media audiences and re-endorse Donald Trump for President.
In his defense he made it clear that he didn’t agree with the all of the things Trump had said (or done?) but that, “The big things he’s right about” and Thiel continued to publicly support the unsupportable.
You don’t get to be “right” about policy issues when you have been a race-baiting, misogynistic, intolerant demagogue. Trump is not a normal politician who can be rationalized and accepting him is a Chamberlain level of appeasement.
You don’t get to pretend for 5 years that the first African American president in US history wasn’t born in the United States and then get a free pass on running for the presidency. This act was not only racist in and of itself but also gave air-cover to the most irrational conspiracy theorists and white supremacist groups in the United States. Peter, this racist act perpetrated over a 5-year timeframe was disqualifying, whatever you think of his other “policies.”
You don’t get to launch your campaign saying illegal Mexicans are “rapists and murderers and some, I assume, are good people.” That is racist and fear mongering and stoking the flames of those who want to vilify “the other” which has been done throughout our country to the Irish, the Polish, the Jews, Italians and yes — the Germans — and every other immigrant population throughout history. Racism is disqualifying. Immigration and assimilation are two of the unique features that have made America so great over its centuries.
You don’t get to call for a religious test to enter our country, potentially denying access to more than 1 billion Muslim people in the world including very large populations in Indonesia, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. You don’t get to create a division between the 3.3 million Muslims living peacefully in the United States and “the rest of us” because that is called “religious intolerance” and was precisely the kind of governmental prejudice our Founding Fathers tried to protect against.
You don’t get to say out loud that you would kiss women against their will or grab them against their will. That isn’t “locker-room talk” it is sexual assault and you don’t get to normalize that talk and then be president of our country. There are now more than a dozen women coming forward saying that Trump actually did what he said he did and groped them or kissed them against their will. These cases haven’t been proven but it’s hard to discount them when the person who said that Trump did this was … Donald Trump, himself!
You don’t get to pretend that you “just don’t know anything about” David Duke especially when there is this pesky fact of public record that you DO know about David Duke. Legitimizing David Duke and his vile group of supporters in order to run up the score on your votes is disqualifying in running for the presidency of the United States. Yes, THIS David Duke, Peter. This one, from just this past week …
I’m guessing you can imagine but in case your mind doesn’t go there, Peter, that second image is trying to say “Hillary is like the Jews.” Perhaps that nose looks a bit like mine, Peter? Or maybe you need the more explicit comments in the Tweet above it to be convinced?
Trump didn’t say these things, but he legitimized them by looking the other way and pretending they weren’t said and that he didn’t know about David Duke. Peter, this is precisely what you’re doing in legitimizing Trump. You’re saying you agree with him on policy while saying the press is taking him too literally for his 5 years of racist “birtherism” or his anti-Mexican comments or his sexual assault comments.
Or how about if we take what Trump actually says, Peter? Perhaps you’re not as finely attuned as I am to the alt-right references to “international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in oder to enrich these global financial powers” but let me translate in dog-whistle to English for you — that’s referring to Jews. We are the global cabal who control finance, media and governments in the eyes of the conspiracy theorists.
But what about Trump’s policies, Peter, do you find attractive?
The fact that he called on nations like South Korea or Saudi Arabia to have their own nuclear weapons? Or that he would consider a first-strike nuclear policy for the United States? Or is that one of the things you can overlook because we shouldn’t take it so literally?
Are you for “bombing the shit” out of ISIS’s oil operations and then “taking the oil” as Trump says or pulling out of NATO as Trump has threatened? Or is that hyperbole? Do you think if we bomb the shit out of oil fields in Iraq and then take their oil we will create more terrorists who hate us or fewer?
Are you troubled that he hasn’t released his tax returns and we’re one week from the election? Or is this ok and you’re pro the tax dodges he has openly hinted at or the more dubious ones that are now becoming public?
I heard you speak eloquently yesterday about the need to have a competent government capable of building the interstate highway system or the Manhattan Project and the Apollo program. I agree! We need a government that invests in and completes big things like public schooling, infrastructure and scientific research. But how can we fund all of these if we don’t pay our taxes, Peter? Can you see the slightest hypocrisy in supporting a candidate who is a tax dodger and provides no transparency of what he has actually done with his taxes while also saying you want a government capable of completing big, important projects?
I have many friends on both sides of the aisle. I have rabid Bernie Sanders supporter friends — yet I was never persuaded he had the right solutions for our country. He is populist so I see why people find his policies appealing but I find them not to be realistic. You can’t put global trade back in a bottle and pretend all manufacturing jobs will return to the US. You must instead invest tax dollars in helping affective communities through education, retooling, infrastructure investment (like clean water) and job stimulation.
I have many friends on the right side of the aisle who may have policy differences with me on issues ranging from pro choice (which I am) vs. pro life or drug policies or tax structure or our penal system.
I happen to be very socially liberal and prefer our country to move towards tolerance and equality for all people regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race or religion. I abhor policies that make it difficult for low-income women to get reproductive care or that applies religious tests to the kind of care they can receive. I am pro liberalizing failed drug policies and incarceration policies and similar initiatives.
I happen to be fiscally moderate and believe in global trade, moderating the size and influence of government and being careful about the “laws of unintended consequences” of government tax policies and social spending programs. I am pro worker protection and a fair wage and am willing to increase the minimum wage but I also see some of the downsides of unions that make some industries or situations anti-competitive.
I know that there are policy nuances and that my positions aren’t “right” they are positions worthy of debates with my friends who disagree and at times I find myself persuaded and change my views.
I’ve sat in your house, Peter, eating dinner with a small crowd of thinkers and heard you advocate strongly for positions I hadn’t considered and found myself moved by your counter-intuitive logic on some key issues. I love policy debate with smart people because it forces me to figure out where my own lines are. I respect your willingness to advocate strongly for positions and forcing me to think harder about where I stand.
But on issues of racism, race-baiting, religious intolerance, misogyny, sexual assault, white supremacy and demagoguery — there can be no gray area, Peter. These are disqualifying issues and you are completely wrong to support Donald Trump.
If we accept leaders who embrace demagoguery, intolerance and groups of citizens who would turn on each other and vilify “the other” then eventually they will turn on us, Peter. I am the straight son of an immigrant father from South America whose parents on both sides are Jewish and who proudly thinks of myself as an American first and foremost and everything else second. You were born in Germany and an immigrant to the US at 1-year old and are gay and now proudly open about that as you said it on a national stage at the Republican convention.
We both have voices and megaphones and resources but if we appease leaders who have shown a penchant for supporting intolerance, hatred and racism — eventually they will come for us.
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”
— Pastor Martin Niemöller of Germany in reference to the Nazis
Thiel Image Credit: Steve Jurvetson on Flickr