Stanford alum Peter Thiel apologizes for comments on rape

In a 1995 book with David Sacks, he wrote ‘a multicultural rape charge may indicate nothing more than belated regret’

Peter Thiel, Class of 1989 and co-founder of PayPal and Palantir, and David Sacks, Class of 1994 and CEO of Zenefits, are apologizing for comments in their 1995 book, The Diversity Myth: ‘Multiculturalism’ and the Politics of Intolerance on Campus. 

Both authors are former editors of the Stanford Review, the campus’ conservative student publication. Their book is a criticism of how politically-correct ‘multiculturalism’ has negatively affected higher education and is based on their Stanford experiences. The controversial statements resurfaced in The Guardian in light of Thiel’s $1.25 million donation to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign.

On Monday, October 24, the pair apologized for comments downplaying rape, such as, “the purpose of the rape crisis movement seems as much about vilifying men as about raising ‘awareness’” and that since, “a multicultural rape charge may indicate nothing more than belated regret, a woman might ‘realize’ that she had been ‘raped’ the next day or even many days later.”

On the topic of race and diversity, they wrote that “real diversity requires a diversity of ideas, not simply a bunch of like-minded activists who resemble the bar scene from Star Wars.”

Forbes reported Thiel’s apology.

“More than two decades ago, I co-wrote a book with several insensitive, crudely argued statements,” said Thiel, “As I’ve said before, I wish I’d never written those things. I’m sorry for it. Rape in all forms is a crime. I regret writing passages that have been taken to suggest otherwise.”

Sacks said, “This is college journalism written over 20 years ago. It does not represent who I am or what I believe today. I’m embarrassed by some of my former views and regret writing them.”

In response, Stanford student Huanvy Phan, 17, Undeclared, said, “It is disappointing to see Stanford alumni in influential positions of power speak in a way that erodes the progress that this institution has made. Rape culture is still rampant in our society, and Thiel has already, in the past, expressed his problematic and victim-blaming views on sexual assault. If Thiel truly did believe that all rape was harmful, he would donate to sexual assault prevention efforts rather than a political candidate who pridefully boasts of sexually assaulting women.”

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At the time of publication, Thiel and Sacks also published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal that attacked Stanford’s emphasis on multiculturalism. Then Stanford President Gerhard Casper and Provost Condoleezza Rice jointly responded in a letter to the editor stating Thiel and Sack’s commentary consisted of “most egregious errors and misrepresentations” and was “demagoguery, pure and simple.”

“Peter Thiel represents the dangers of excessive Silicon Valley egoism. His hyper-libertarian views, opposition to freedom of the press, and his former views on rape all paint a caricature of the self-centered technocrat. He wouldn’t have apologized if it hadn’t been brought up. He’s only doing it for his image. It’s good that we can leverage that against him in this day and age,” said Stanford student Elijah Spiegel, 18, Computer Science + Linguistics major.

Meanwhile, Thiel has declined to comment beyond his apology, while Sacks has said he has regrets and has shifted his politics far from Thiel’s: donating nearly $70,000 to a political action committee supporting Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

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