Wall Street Journal defends Nazi comparison

Days ago, venture capitalist Tom Perkins compared criticism of billionaires to Nazi persecution of Jews, likening recent events to Kristallnacht, the pogrom that heralded the beginning of the Holocaust. This resulted in much anger—and a half-hearted apology from Perkins—but the Wall Street Journal itself is doubling down, describing the criticism as "Perkinsnacht".

While claiming to be outraged at the Nazi reference, the critics seem more incensed that Mr. Perkins dared to question the politics of economic class warfare. The boys at Bloomberg View—we read them since no one else does—devoted an entire editorial to inequality and Mr. Perkins's "unhinged Nazi rant." Others denounced him for defending his former wife Danielle Steel, and even for owning too many Rolex watches.

Maybe the critics are afraid that Mr. Perkins is onto something about the left's political method. Consider the recent record of liberals in power.

Whatever else you might say about this, it's hardly unexpected that the Journal would insinuate that Perkins' critics do not really care about the Holocaust, and are using the comparison as a cheap way to score class war points. After all, its precisely what he was accused of doing to begin with! This inane game of "No, you!" reinforces the obvious point here, which is that Perkins' belief–that criticism of the extremely wealthy is politically analogous to Nazi persecution of a powerless ethnic minority–was as wrong as it gets.

It's as if the WSJ's editorial board simply lacks a person normal enough to even know that the Holocaust is something people remain affected by, in a way that goes far beyond IRS policies and mayoral rhetoric on income inequality. Perkinsnacht, indeed.

Also noteworthy is that WSJ's foremost reply to Perkins' critics is to claim that the tone of their criticism is more revealing than its content. "Liberal vituperation makes our letter writer's point," is, literally, the subheading of the editorial. This kind of tone policing, the idea that things must be said a certain way if they are to be taken seriously, is precisely what Tom Scocca recently defined as journalistic smarm — an effort at evasion, from people who would sooner talk about anything other than themselves.