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Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Peter Thiel is not only a crackpot but a great big honking racist

 I've long noted that Peter Thiel is a crackpot.

A recent Atlantic profile about Thiel confirms he - along with the New Criterion crowd - is a huge racist. (My bold emphasis.)

In the last thursday in April, Thiel stood in a ballroom at the Metropolitan Club, one of New York’s finest Gilded Age buildings. Decorative marble fireplaces accented the intricate panel work in burgundy and gold, all beneath Renaissance-style ceiling murals. Thiel had come to receive an award from The New Criterion, a conservative magazine of literature and politics, and to bask in the attention of nearly 300 fans.

These were Thiel’s people, and he spoke at the closed-press event with a lot less nuance than he had in our interviews. His after-dinner remarks were full of easy applause lines and in-jokes mocking the left. Universities had become intellectual wastelands, obsessed with a meaningless quest for diversity, he told the crowd. The humanities writ large are “transparently ridiculous,” said the onetime philosophy major, and “there’s no real science going on” in the sciences, which have devolved into “the enforcement of very curious dogmas.”

Thiel reprised his longtime critique of “the diversity myth.” He made a plausible point about the ideological monoculture of the DEI industry: “You don’t have real diversity,” he said, with “people who look different but talk and think alike.” Then he made a crack that seemed more revealing.

“Diversity—it’s not enough to just hire the extras from the space-cantina scene in Star Wars,” he said, prompting laughter.

I was sorry the piece did not talk about Thiel's crackpot, Bible-quoting keynote speech for another gang of Thiel's people, the Stanford Academic Freedom Conference. 

Someone at Rational Wiki recently questioned the claim that Thiel "secretly supported Quillette" made by right-winger Charles C. Johnson and quoted in Max Chafkin's book on Thiel, "The Contrarian" on the grounds that Johnson is untrustworthy.

I don't know what Johnson could have gotten out of falsely claiming Thiel supported Quillette, since very few people have even heard of Quillette. And Johnson's claim that Thiel was working for the FBI appears to be confirmed in this Atlantic article:

Thiel received an invitation that day, and then again in January 2022, to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. No agenda was specified. Thiel had been fascinated by Putin’s czarlike presence in a room in Davos years before, all “champagne and caviar, and you had sort of this gaggle of, I don’t know, Mafia-like-looking oligarchs standing around him,” he recalled, but he did not make the trip.

Instead, he reported the contact to the FBI, for which Thiel had become a confidential human source code-named “Philosopher.” Thiel’s role as an FBI informant, first reported by Insider, dated back to May 2021. Charles Johnson, a tech investor, right-wing attention troll, and longtime associate of Thiel’s, told me he himself had become an FBI informant some time ago. Johnson introduced Thiel to FBI Special Agent Johnathan Buma.

A source with close knowledge of the relationship said Buma told Thiel that he did not want to know about Thiel’s contacts with U.S. elected officials or political figures, which were beyond the FBI’s investigative interests. Buma saw his interactions with Thiel, this source said, as strictly “a counterintelligence, anti-influence operation” directed at foreign governments.

Thiel responded to my questions about his FBI relationship with a terse “no comment.” A close associate, speaking with Thiel’s permission, said “it would be strange if Peter had never met with people from the deep state,” including “three-letter agencies, especially given the fact that he founded Palantir 20 years ago.”

Johnson told me he knows he has a reputation as a right-wing agitator, but said that he had fostered that image in order to gather information for the FBI and other government agencies. (He said he is now a supporter of President Joe Biden.) “I recognize that I’m an imperfect messenger,” he said. He told me a great many things about Thiel and others that I could not verify, but knowledgeable sources confirmed his role in recruiting Thiel for Buma. He and Thiel have since fallen out. “We are taking a permanent break from one another,” Thiel texted Johnson about a year ago. “Starting now.”

I think it's very plausible that Thiel has funded - and still is funding Quillette, since Thiel's New Criterion speech sounds exactly like something written by a Quillette stooge. 

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