Peter Thiel’s new right puppet, Blake Masters Blames Gun Violence on ‘Black People, Frankly’ (The Daily Beast):
Tech investor and Arizona Republican Senate hopeful Blake Masters acknowledges that the United States has a gun violence problem. But he also has a theory about why there’s a problem—it’s “Black people, frankly.”
Masters boiled the issue down in an April 11 interview on the Jeff Oravits Show podcast, telling the host that “we do have a gun violence problem in this country, and it’s gang violence.”
“It’s people in Chicago, St. Louis shooting each other. Very often, you know, Black people, frankly,” Masters clarified. “And the Democrats don’t want to do anything about that.”
It’s unclear why Masters—who has pushed the baseless “great replacement” conspiracy theory narrative—felt compelled to single out Black people. Moments earlier in the interview, during a discussion about Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearings, Masters told Oravits that “most Americans just, you know, just want to stop obsessing about race all the time,” adding that “the left’s biggest tool in their toolkit is just to divide people on the basis of race, and that’s really messed up.”
And Blake Masters, running for Senate in Arizona, even tweeted this lie about “great replacement” AFTER the massacre of ten Black Americans in Buffalo, NY. https://t.co/g3kzHYXryt
— Bend the Arc: Jewish Action (@jewishaction) May 16, 2022
Republicans frequently cite urban gang violence, most often in Chicago, in attempts to tap out of the gun control debate. While their redirections are often as misleading as they are cliche, those officials aren’t always as forthright as Masters about the racial undertones.
After pinning gun violence on gangs and Black people—and saying, falsely, that Democratic administrations “don’t want to do anything” about gang shootings—the Stanford-educated libertarian went on to complain to Oravits that gun control efforts target “law-abiding people like you and me.”
“When they ban ‘ghost guns’ and pistol braces, that’s all about disarming law-abiding people, like you and me, that’s what it’s about,” Masters said, referencing government efforts to crack down on the surge in privately made, untraceable firearms. “They care that we can’t have guns to defend ourselves.”
Rolling Stone adds:
Masters has leaned on racism, conspiracy theories, and guns throughout this campaign. Guns in particular have been featured prominently is his campaign videos. “The Second Amendment is not about duck hunting,” he said in one of them, adding that “the first thing the Taliban did when Joe Biden handed them Afghanistan” was “[take] away people’s guns.”
The 35-year-old has garnered praise not only from Trump — who called him a “great modern-day thinker” in endorsing him last week — but also figures like Tucker Carlson, who has called Masters “the future of the Republican Party” and regularly gives him airtime on his primetime show. Trump and Carlson have also both embraced [another Peter Thiel puppet] J.D. Vance, the Ohio Senate candidate who has similarly fretted that imposing regulations on firearms is a slippery slope to “destroying the Second Amendment,” and, like Masters, received a boatload of cash from right-wing billionaire Peter Thiel. Masters so far received $13.5 million from Thiel.
Masters—a Bitcoin evangelist who routinely hawks automated surveillance technology developed by his benefactor, billionaire tech mogul Peter Thiel—claimed that “it’s pretty rare” for homemade firearms to show up in criminal activity. But his information might be outdated.
Ghost guns aren’t just built and owned by technocrats, to be appreciated as physical instantiations of political theory. They’re also on the rise among criminals, including in gang activity, according to officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, as well as fresh police data VICE published this week, which documents a 90 percent increase in seizures last year.
The day of the Oravits interview, President Joe Biden announced a rule change to address the ghost gun problem. In response, Masters tweeted a photo of his own “ghost” gun kit, claiming that he would be a “felon” under the new rule if he made “another one just like it today.”
That’s not accurate. The Biden administration has not banned those weapons, which don’t have serial numbers and can be 3D-printed at home. The new rule doesn’t make it illegal to build your own gun; it applies to people who sell gun kits. Those sellers are now required to become licensed firearms dealers, run background checks on buyers, and include serial numbers on their kits.
The rule also targets violence in urban areas—a sore point for Masters—where ghost guns are multiplying.
Last year, police seized more than 225 of the weapons in New York City, along with 300 seizures in Baltimore and 455 in Chicago, CBS News reported. And government data shows that law enforcement agencies reported recovering 20,000 suspected ghost guns in criminal investigations last year alone—nearly as many seized over the previous four years combined.
Back in the interview, Masters—who has likened federal campaign disclosure laws to Kristallnacht—veered into conspiratorial territory.
From the report:
Arizona GOP Senate candidate Blake Masters complained about having to disclose donations under federal campaign finance law in a recent podcast interview, appearing to agree with the suggestion that it’s similar to Kristallnacht, the Nazi attack on Jews in 1938.
“If someone gives $100 to a political candidate, why are we exposing their name and their hometown and their employer to the public? That’s really crazy. Maybe if you cut a million-dollar check, people should know that,” Masters said on the May 25 episode of “The Greg Medford Show.”
“It’s for hit lists. And AOC said this, one of the first things she said after Joe Biden was inaugurated is, ‘We need to de-Trumpify this country.’ And she said, ‘We’re making lists,’” Masters added, appearing to refer to this tweet by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
In the Nov. 7, 2020, tweet, Ocasio-Cortez actually said, “Is anyone archiving these Trump sycophants for when they try to downplay or deny their complicity in the future? I foresee decent probability of many deleted Tweets, writings, photos in the future.”
Greg Medford, the host of the podcast, responded: “Right, that’s like Kristallnacht. That’s like Kristallnacht.” [No. No it’s not, you idiot.]
“Yeah, that’s right,” Masters said. “No, it’s absolutely wild.”
Masters’ campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.
Masters is a 35-year-old venture capitalist who is backed by tech billionaire and Republican megadonor Peter Thiel. He claimed in the same interview that campaign finance laws need “radical reform” because they solely benefit the Democratic Party and progressive groups.
“I know that I’m a target. [President] Biden’s DOJ would love to find a foot fault on something, and all of a sudden take me out,” Masters said of campaign finance regulations.
Masters has struggled to gain momentum in the crowded GOP primary to take on Sen. Mark Kelly (D). That’s likely to change with this week’s endorsement of his campaign by former President Donald Trump.
[W]ealthy investors have been quick to compare policies they don’t like to Nazi Germany in the past.
“It’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939,” billionaire private equity investor Stephen Schwarzman, a major GOP donor, said in 2010 after then-President Barack Obama proposed raising the tax rate on capital gains.
“I would call attention to the parallels of Nazi Germany to its war on its ‘one percent,’ namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the ‘rich,’” wealthy investor Tom Perkins, who passed away in 2016, said in a 2014 Wall Street Journal letter to the editor. Perkins further compared Occupy Wall Street to Kristallnacht.
Schwarzman and Perkins both apologized after making the comparison.
For historical clarity:
Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, was a pogrom directed at Jews in Germany, Austria and the German-occupied Sudetenland after a Jewish man assassinated the German ambassador to France in 1938. The pogrom, officially endorsed by the German Nazi government, caused the deaths of hundreds of Jews, including those who committed suicide after, the imprisonment in concentration camps of 30,000 Jewish men and the destruction of thousands of Jewish businesses, homes and synagogues.
Nothing at all like campaign finance reporting. His ignorant comment demeans the memory of those who were persecuted by the Nazis for being Jewish.
And this white nationalist probably has given lots of money to dark money groups which do not have to report donor information.
The Daily Beast continues:
Democrats “don’t like the Second Amendment,” he said, because “it frankly blocks a lot of their plans for us”—an unhinged, fact-free statement that liberal officials have cooked up a plot to physically force conservatives to comply with some unarticulated maleficent regime, but have been bayed by fears that a constitutionally endowed populace will shoot them if they try.
Masters also tossed out misleading red meat gripes about crime in West Coast cities Los Angeles and San Francisco, where Masters lived much of his adult life before relocating to Arizona ahead of his Senate bid.
Those cities, he told Oravits, have “legalized crime,” claiming that “you can’t get arrested if you smash someone’s window and take a purse or an iPhone.”
It’s not immediately clear what Masters was referring to, but the riff appears to be a nod at Prop 47, which California voters passed at the state (not city) level nearly eight years ago. The Prop 47 coalition included Democrats along with libertarians like Masters, who wanted to roll back felony punishment for lesser offenses, including property crimes like shoplifting.
Prop 47 didn’t “legalize crime,” but reclassified certain felonies as misdemeanors. But after the recent rise in property crimes such as “smash and grab” robberies, most Californians support tougher sentencing laws, including overhauling parts of Prop 47.
“They talk about crime but I find it crocodile tears,” Masters said, an apparent reference to Democratic outrage over an unending drumroll of domestic massacres. “Because if they were actually tough on crime they would get serious about gang violence.” (Masters himself did not put forward a solution to gang violence in the interview.)
Masters, 35, is a fairly new name in GOP politics, but he has benefited from powerful friends—including his mentor, Thiel, who threw $10 million into a super PAC backing his primary bid.
Thiel’s support went a long way to landing a recent endorsement from former President Donald Trump, who officially blessed Masters on Thursday. It wasn’t a surprise—Trump has a score to settle with Masters’ top opponent, Arizona attorney general Mark Brnovich, who resisted Trump’s pressure to invalidate his state’s 2020 election results.
But Masters isn’t MAGA, exactly. He’s more MAGA-adjacent, part of a loosely affiliated group of young, very online hyper-conservatives known as the “new right.”
Masters is fiercely anti-tech while being fiercely pro-tech, backs a national abortion ban, claims Democrats want to “import a million people every year to replace Americans who were born here,” has said that the media and big tech “conspired to manipulate the 2020 election”—which he claims “Trump won”—and calls the gender pay gap a “left-wing narrative.”
(The “new right” crowd also counts another Trump-endorsed Thiel protege: Ohio Senate candidate JD Vance.)
Masters won Trump’s endorsement on Thursday, nine days after an 18-year-old used a legally purchased semiautomatic rifle to slaughter 19 elementary school students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas.
“Blake will fight for our totally under-siege Second Amendment, and WIN!” Trump wrote in his announcement. An hour later, Biden called on the country to support an array of gun control measures in a primetime national address.