Should Peter Thiel be fired for backing Trump?

Some in Silicon Valley say Paypal founder Peter Thiel's support of Donald Trump is support for 'violence and hate' and that he should be fired from Y Combinator, where he is a part-time partner.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP/File
Entrepreneur Peter Thiel speaks on July 21, 2016, during the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel made waves in Silicon Valley this week, after it was revealed that he donated $1.25 million to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Now, many in Silicon Valley say that Mr. Thiel’s support for Mr. Trump crosses a line due to the candidate’s attitudes towards certain ethnic and religious groups, and are calling for Thiel’s resignation. Others argue that Thiel's right to donate to and support whichever candidate he chooses is a fundamental freedom that should be enjoyed by any citizen of the United States.

Thiel has a long legacy in Silicon Valley, where he has served as the co-founder of PayPal and the first outside investor in Facebook. Currently, Thiel is the cofounder and chairman of Palantir, a software and services company, and a part-time partner at startup incubator Y Combinator.

Despite the public outcry surrounding Thiel’s donation, Y Combinator president Sam Altman refused to fire Thiel, tweeting that doing so would be bad for democracy.

“YC is not going to fire someone for supporting a major party nominee,” Mr. Altman wrote.

Some observers of the political scene say they see Thiel as a study in contradictions. Given a prime time speaking slot at the Republican National Convention this year, Thiel declared his pride in his sexual orientation.

“I am proud to be gay; I am proud to be a Republican; but most of all, I’m proud to be an American,” he told the audience, receiving a standing ovation.

While Trump himself says that he is a friend to the gay community, the Republican party’s 2016 platform is seen by some as anything but friendly. The party opposes same-sex marriage and laws allowing transgender people to use the restroom aligned with their gender identity, and does not oppose conversion therapy, stances that are at odds with the LGBT activist community.

Thiel’s convention speech addressed few of the party’s LGBT policies beyond questioning the salience of the transgender bathroom debate and imparting a general statement that he disagreed with several planks of the party’s platform.

Critics of Thiel’s support for Trump say that it isn’t the candidate’s attitude (positive or negative) towards LGBT individuals that make Trump such a threat. Instead, they say that Trump’s generally negative and critical attitude towards members of a number of ethnic and religious groups engenders hate and fear.

"While all of us believe in the ideas of free speech and open platforms, we draw a line here. We agree that people shouldn't be fired for their political views, but this isn't a disagreement on tax policy, this is advocating hatred and violence," former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao wrote in a blog post, adding:

"Giving more power to someone whose ascension and behavior strike fear into so many people is unacceptable. His [Trump's] attacks on Black, Mexican, Asian, Muslim, and Jewish people, on women, and on others are more than just political speech; fueled by hate and encouraging violence, they make each of us feel unsafe."

Ms. Pao’s Project Include works with Y Combinator startups to help them build more diverse organizations. After Thiel’s donation to the Trump campaign became public, however, Pao announced that she plans to cut ties with Y Combinator.

Other Silicon Valley groups are also examining their connections with Thiel. 

Nevertheless, Altman remains staunch in his decision to retain Thiel, arguing that firing him for his political views would be a “dangerous path to start down.”

Altman tweeted on Sunday,

“Diversity of opinion is painful but critical to the health of a democratic society. We can't start purging people for political support.”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Should Peter Thiel be fired for backing Trump?
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/Technology/2016/1018/Should-Peter-Thiel-be-fired-for-backing-Trump
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe