AIG's CEO Robert Benmosche… told the Wall Street Journal that the outrage over the bonuses promised to AIG's members was just as bad as when white supremacists in the American South used to lynch African Americans…. Yes, enduring some public criticism for receiving multimillion-dollar bonuses after helping crash the global economy is a lot like being hanged from a tree by your neck until you die. These kinds of sentiments don't emerge in a vacuum. Benmosche is expressing a view that was pretty common back in 2010 and 2011…. John Catsimatidis…. Steven Schwarzman…. I was in an off-the-record meeting with top Wall Street folks where similar comparisons to Nazi Germany were tossed around. It really was a meme on Wall Street that the singling out of the wealthy for criticism--and, more to the point, taxation--had a direct historical precedent in Nazi Germany, where the Jews were first demonized, then taxed, and then, well, you know. The sense was that the rich in general, and Wall Street in particular, weren't just being criticized, but that they were being turned into a dangerously despised minority.
That's the context…. I would bet he's made the same point a number of times in private rooms to appreciative nods. When you say and hear that kind of thing often enough, however, you forget how insane and offensive it is — and then you say it to the Wall Street Journal.