Billionaire tech mogul Peter Thiel’s favored candidate for an Arizona Senate seat went on a recent screed against “anti-white racism,” accusing liberal teachers of turning America’s students into self-hating automatons.
Blake Masters, a 34-year-old venture capitalist and protege of the PayPal founder, recently jumped into the race to face Democratic Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly. Weeks before he officially launched his campaign, he delivered a speech that was harshly critical of Critical Race Theory, which he claimed has permeated America’s classrooms.
“Too much of schooling in America has become a machine to uproot common sense and to replace it with something much more sinister. You’ve heard about Critical Race Theory,” he said. “All it does is teach kids to identify in racial terms. Right? You are good or bad, depending on what you look like. At this point it is straight up anti-white racism. I don’t think we’re allowed to say that. But let’s call it what it is. It is toxic, and it does not belong in our schools.”
“We’ve got to take back the schools and stop the indoctrination,” Masters continued.
The remarks, first reported by The Informant, were made just weeks before Masters officially announced his Senate bid at a May 25 rally in Phoenix. That event, billed as “America’s Comeback Tour,” was hosted by the right-wing group Freedomworks and headlined by right-wing British politician Nigel Farage.
The comments fall in a larger pattern of Republican candidates and operatives seeking to make the fight they’ve invented over Critical Race Theory, a once-obscure legal theory that America’s institutions are indelibly influenced by racism, into a cause célèbre arguing that America’s children are being brainwashed. This has cropped up in races big and small across the country.
And they’re not surprising for a candidate backed by Thiel, who as Buzzfeed News reported has extensive ties with the racist fringe of the GOP.
Masters is running to face Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, and is currently in a crowded primary that includes Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. And his anti-CRT attack isn’t just a one-off—he warned of “schools that teach our kids to hate our country” in his campaign launch video.
Nearly all of Masters’ career has come under the tutelage of Thiel, the founder of PayPal who was one of the tech tech billionaires to loudly back President Trump. Masters took a Stanford Law class Thiel taught in 2012, and began posting detailed notes of Thiel’s anti-globalization lectures online. Thiel asked him to turn them into a book, and later hired Masters as president of the Thiel Foundation, and later, as COO of Thiel Capital.
Thiel has continued to be Masters’ primary angel investor for this race, donating $10 million to a super PAC to support Masters’ candidacy. And Masters’ campaign is currently raffling off the chance to have dinner with Thiel for donors who max out and give $5,800 to Masters.
Masters is one of a handful of Senate candidates who Thiel has thrown his support behind to push his harshly critical view of globalization, enmity towards China and criticism of big tech. Thiel has also given $10 million to a super PAC to back Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance, who’s also sought to turn CRT into a campaign issue. And he supported former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s 2020 Senate race, backing the anti-immigration firebrand, who also pushed many election conspiracy theories, against the establishment choice for that seat.