In an interview published in the New York Times on Wednesday, billionaire venture capitalist/”Trump’s Tech Pal” Peter Thiel proved to the world that on top of lacking a functioning human heart and visible eyebrows, he is also lacking a grip on reality! The interview focused largely on Thiel’s decision to endorse and work closely with President-elect Donald Trump, with Thiel at some point calling Trump “very good on gay rights” among other very removed statements.
Among the most removed of these very removed statements was his response to the backlash he received upon endorsing Trump:
“One of my good friends said, ‘Peter, do you realize how crazy this is, how everybody thinks this is crazy?’ I was like: ‘Well, why am I wrong? What’s substantively wrong with this?’ And it all got referred back to ‘Everybody thinks Trump’s really crazy.’ So it’s like there’s a shortcut, which is: ‘I don’t need to explain it. It’s good enough that everybody thinks something. If everybody thinks this is crazy, I don’t even have to explain to you why it’s crazy. You should just change your mind.’”
Crazy is such a subjective word, and everyone is at least sort of crazy in their own way; one could argue in their own ways Bernie and Hillary were, too. It could be there’s nothing wrong with supporting someone who is, well, crazy; but there is so, so much wrong with supporting someone who is, objectively speaking, blatantly racist, xenophobic, and sexist. And despite Trump’s 1) calling Mexican immigrants rapists, 2) proposing wealthy men such as himself could “do anything” to women (i.e. nonconsensually grab a woman “by the pussy”), 3) slut-shaming Alicia Machado and basically all the women who accused him of sexual assault, 4) suggesting the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and, among so many other examples, 5) proposing the creation of a Muslim registry, this is still something that Thiel fails to understand.
In terms of the proposed Muslim registry, which most Silicon Valley tech executives have already flat-out refused to participate in creating, while it is comforting that Thiel himself flatly declared “we could not do that,” it’s pretty cringe that he had nothing to say of the immorality of the theoretical registry and how outrageous it is that our next president could even suggest that.
But alas, some of Thiel’s most deeply confused comments were in response to questions about Trump/Pence on gay rights. Thiel himself is a gay man who told the Times, “For speaking at the Republican convention, I got attacked way more by liberal gay people than by conservative Christian people.” I can believe that since, regardless of Thiel himself being gay, why should liberal gay people find it any less offensive that he could endorse a presidential ticket so hostile to LGBTQ rights just because he himself has the privilege to not be affected in the same way less wealthy and powerful members of the LGBTQ community will. Meanwhile, I can see why conservative Christian people would appreciate him speaking up to promote their oppressive agenda in his endorsement of Trump, serving to make it look, well, less oppressive.
But for Thiel to call Trump “very good on gay rights” is nothing short of laughable. While Trump has repeatedly said that he will respect the ruling in Obergfell v. Hodges, he’s called himself a traditionalist and spoke of his personal opposition to marriage equality, on top of vocally supporting “freedom of religion” laws that are basically just code for giving bigots a free pass to discriminate against gay people, whether this means firing them from their jobs or evicting them from their apartments for no other reason than their sexual orientation, due to religion. Freedom of religion is the fundamental right to believe in whatever you want to believe, unless you ask conservatives like Trump and pretty much everyone he’s appointed who think it means the right to treat people however awfully you please.
And speaking of “pretty much everyone he’s appointed,” Thiel would not have to look further than Trump’s appointment for veep, Mike Pence, who is something of a homophobic legend. Pence not only supported gay conversion therapy as governor of Indiana, but even suggested transferring funding for HIV/AIDS treatment to gay conversion therapy.
But of Pence, all Thiel had to say was, “You know, maybe I should be worried but I’m not that worried about it.” And of course, as a literal billionaire, he’s hardly at risk of being fired from a job or evicted for his sexuality, so why would he be?
Of gay rights and rights in general under Trump, Thiel offered a particularly resounding, tone-deaf statement:
“I don’t think these things will particularly change. It’s like, even if you appointed a whole series of conservative Supreme Court justices, I’m not sure that Roe v. Wade would get overturned, ever. I don’t know if people even care about the Supreme Court.
I don’t know the people he’s talking to as a rich white male, but I think most women, immigrants, low-income, other LGBTQ and minority people are pretty concerned about the Supreme Court. And while it’s dubious fundamental laws such as the right to an abortion and, more recently, the right to marriage will change, there’s so much that electing Trump already has changed. On top of the fact that access to abortion and family planning face dramatically uphill battles in states, Congress, and the Supreme Court in the year to come, and of course that LGBTQ people can still be freely discriminated against in too many states, electing Trump, after all he’s said and done, equates a frankly terrifying cultural regression.
The election of Trump sends the message that what’s said of and done to marginalized people doesn’t matter in our society; you can be accused of sexual assault and even promote it in your language, relentlessly bully the most vulnerable groups, and still be given the presidency, then go on to appoint to disturbing positions of power other accused of abuse, others who are just as backwards and godawful as you?
This should be terrifying to everyone, but apparently isn’t to those with enough power and privilege to dodge the consequences, like, well, Peter Thiel.