Peter Thiel is a billionaire serial entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and the most prominent supporter of President Trump in Silicon Valley. And some say, the most dangerous conservative in America.
On Oct. 28, 2015, several months before Thiel was revealed to be the funder of a lawsuit that bankrupted renegade media company Gawker, which had covered his political activities negatively and outed him as gay in 2007.
Thiel has become a national figure of controversy for, among other things, claiming that “the extension of the franchise to women…render[s] the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron,” saying, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible,” funding a fellowship that specifically tries to get undergraduates to drop out of college, and donating $1.25 million to Donald Trump’s campaign a week after a tape was released in which the then-candidate discussed how he could grope young female actresses and get away with it.
30 years ago, as a sophomore at Stanford, Thiel was a lightning rod for a much smaller-scale reason: He co-founded (with Norman Book ’91) the Stanford Review.
Thiel’s legacy — and presence — remains with The Review, now an established institution on campus, to this day. Thiel continues to meet with the publication’s editors, and he is substantially more open with them about his beliefs than he is with the general public, including on highly controversial issues like race and immigration. And across the Bay Area, many of The Review’s alumni, spearheaded by Thiel, have built a relatively small but tight-knit network that extends across three decades and has a net worth that extends into the billions.
In a recent article in the Guardian, Stanford Professor McCarthyism in America.
Last month, the Stanford Review, a rightwing publication co-founded by Peter Thiel and based on my university campus, wrote that I have helped set up an “organization [that is] undeniably a chapter of a terrorist group” and demanded my resignation.
The organization I belong to is called the Campus Antifascist Network. We advocate for organized resistance to fascist violence on campus, and for educating our communities and others as to the nature of fascism today. We claim solidarity with a proud tradition of anti-fascism dating back to the early 20th century.
The attack on me is part of a broader phenomenon noted by the American Association of University Professors, which claims that college campuses are the new battleground for conservative groups, far-right organizations and white supremacists. These groups are all trying to intimidate faculty and students, to recruit members, and to attract publicity. Not just careers and reputations are on the line – often personal safety is as well.
Today, we are seeing the resurgence of a wretched phenomenon we thought we had put behind us – McCarthyism, which involves “the use of tactics involving personal attacks on individuals by means of widely publicized indiscriminate allegations especially on the basis of unsubstantiated charges”.
Professors are more than hesitant about fighting back against accusations that emanate from organizations supported by the likes of Peter Thiel.
According to Vanity Fair, Thiel has been quietly advising the Trump administration for months, and could be in line for a top intelligence oversight role. And if he takes the position he intends to take a comprehensive look at the U.S. intelligence community’s information-technology architecture. “He is super-concerned about Amazon and Google”—and Facebook, less so. “He feels they have become New Age global fascists in terms of how they’re controlling the media.”
In sum, Thiel has already proved to be one of the powerful, unseen forces shaping how Donald Trump governs America.