The Transom, Ben Domenech, January 12, 2017
To the NYT. http://vlt.tc/2oik “His critics demanded to know how someone who immigrated from Frankfurt to Cleveland as a child could support a campaign so bristling with intolerance. How could a gay man back someone who will probably nominate Supreme Court justices inclined to limit rights for gays and women? How could a futurist support a cave man who champions fossil fuels, puts profits over environmental protection and insists that we can turn back the clock on the effects of globalization on American workers?
“There are reduced expectations for the younger generation, and this is the first time this has happened in American history,” Mr. Thiel says. “Even if there are aspects of Trump that are retro and that seem to be going back to the past, I think a lot of people want to go back to a past that was futuristic — ‘The Jetsons,’ ‘Star Trek.’ They’re dated but futuristic.”
“It is a theme he has struck before, that Silicon Valley has not fulfilled the old dreams for bigger things. “Cellphones distract us from the fact that the subways are 100 years old,” he says.
“An article entitled “Peter Thiel Is Poised to Become a National Villain,” in New York magazine, suggested he looked like he is enjoying that role.
“He says he isn’t. Yet the billionaire views the visceral torrent against him with his usual rationality, surveying the scene deliberately, like the chess prodigy he once was. “I was surprised that it generated as much controversy as it did,” he says. “There was a push to remove me from the board of Facebook, which is kind of crazy, since I’m the longest-serving director there after Zuckerberg.”
“He recalls that he went through a lot of “meta” debates about Mr. Trump in Silicon Valley. “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.’”
“On the Russian hacking, Mr. Thiel says: “There’s a strong circumstantial case that Russia did this thing. On the other hand, I was totally convinced that there were W.M.D.s in Iraq in 2002, 2003.”
“The reaction from the gay community has been harsh, with one writer in The Advocate going so far as to suggest that Mr. Thiel was not even a gay man, because he did not “embrace the struggle.”
“I think Trump is very good on gay rights,” Mr. Thiel says. “I don’t think he will reverse anything. I would obviously be concerned if I thought otherwise.”
“I ask if he’s comfortable with the idea that Vice President-elect Mike Pence, regarded in the gay community as an unreconstructed homophobe, is a heartbeat away from the presidency.
“You know, maybe I should be worried but I’m not that worried about it,” he replies. “I don’t know. People know too many gay people. There are just all these ways I think stuff has just shifted. For speaking at the Republican convention, I got attacked way more by liberal gay people than by conservative Christian people.”