A real-world billionaire influenced Gavin Belson’s notorious anti-Semitic speech in Silicon Valley.
From HBO Silicon Valley It is often inspired by real world events, but Gavin Belson’s comparison between billionaires and Jews during the Holocaust was thought to be too extreme to occur in real life. Unfortunately, this part of “Bad Money” from season 2 was a reference to an infamous Wall street journal letter written by billionaire venture capitalist Tom Perkins, who made the comparison a year before the episode aired.
“Bad Money” sees Belson being interviewed at a coding conference by Kara Swisher and Walter Mossberg. After trying to give aspiring entrepreneurs some uplifting advice, Swisher calls out Belson for his empty words, causing him to become more aggressive. Fed up with Swisher’s criticism, Belson declares: “Billionaires are people too. We are leaders in technology, in industry, in finance. Look at history. Do you know who else vilified a small minority of financiers and progressive thinkers called Jews? ? ” When asked, “Have you just compared the treatment of billionaires in America today to the plight of Jews in Nazi Germany?” Belson digs into a deeper hole, suggesting that billionaires are treated even worse than the Jews during the Holocaust and the massively wealthy “didn’t even do anything wrong.”
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A lots of Silicon Valley fans didn’t know that this scene referred to Perkins’s real-life letter, which was inappropriately titled “Is the progressive Kristallnacht coming?“Written after the Occupy Movement, Perkins compared criticism of billionaires to the plight of the Jewish people during the Holocaust, stating:” Writing from the epicenter of progressive thought, San Francisco, would draw attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany with their war on their ‘one percent,’ that is, their Jews, to the progressive war against the American one percent, that is, the ‘rich’. “
Perkins’ comments immediately sparked outrage, with numerous media outlets, Twitter users, and even his former firm, Kleiner Perkins, condemning his comments. The Silicon Valley investor, who was worth around $ 8 billion when the comments were made, later apologized for his comparison but claimed, “In the Nazi era it was a racial demonization, now it is a class demonization,” during a statement. obtained by International business times. At the time of its publication, Perkins’ letter was one of the most popular obtained by the Wall street journal, which Op-Eds published condemning his words.
Silicon Valley He took advantage of this moment to gut the empty-handed gestures of the people in power, as Belson meets with the leaders of the Jewish community after his mistake. His attempt at rapprochement is also a failure. Belson announces a shortsighted plan to recreate Yad Vashem, a Holocaust memorial museum, inside Hooli’s headquarters. Despite feigning concern for the community, Belson is clearly more interested in acquiring Pied Piper and only approaches Jewish figures to improve his public perception. This moment captures the facade around Silicon Valley. The region is stereotypically described as a progressive haven for intelligent people, yet the environment remains plagued with ignorance and intolerance among its wealthier inhabitants.
Although Gavin Belson’s comments were more exaggerated than Perkins’s, Silicon Valley It shows that our reality is not far from the absurdity of the modern tech industry, where Perkins made a name for himself as an early investor in Google, Amazon, and AOL. In highlighting Belson’s narcissism, Silicon Valley was able to show how wealth, privilege, and uncontrolled arrogance can distort a person’s reality.
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