Vinod Khosla’s Tweet on Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez backfires

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, an IIT Delhi-trained electrical engineer, was at the receiving end of a volley of criticism and ridicule on twitter last week after expressing doubts about U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “understanding of economics.”

The issue at the center of a twitter battle last week was Khosla’s response to a tweet by Anand Giridharadas, an Indian-American author and a former columnist for The New York Times who had written in support of the newly-elected U.S. Representative from New York Ocasio-Cortez, who has suggested that the rich people be taxed a lot more.

Responding to Giridharadas’ support for the Democratic lawmaker’s position, Khosla tweeted: “That is assuming she (Ocasio-Cortez) understands basic economics, actual humans and technology. I doubt if any of those are true,” Scroll.in said in a report quoting Khosla’s tweet.

Giridharadas brought it to notice of Khosla, 63, that Ocasio-Cortez, 29, the youngest woman ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, had a degree in economics.

“She just courted and won the votes of a great many humans and seems to inspire millions of others,” he said. “And she won a prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. So, this sounds like it’s your issue, not hers.”

More than 250 people followed the Khosla-Giridharadas exchange on twitter, with many criticizing Khosla, and some users commented about the sexism of Khosla’s remark and some suggesting that Khosla was afraid of higher taxes.

Ranked among Forbes magazine’s list of 400 richest people of America, Khosla has many accomplishments and awards to his credit. He has a master’s in biomedical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University followed by an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Reacting to Khosla’s tweet, some people posted comments focusing on Khosla’s decade-long unsuccessful fight to privatize a beach in California and make it his own.

“Don’t you have a beach to steal,” asked one.

According to news reports, Khosla bought 89 acres surrounding Martins Beach, south of Half Moon Bay, in 2008. Two years later, in February last year, Khosla locked the gate to a private road that the public had used for generations to access the shoreline, sparking a controversy that has gained national attention.

Khosla appealed to the Supreme Court to review an earlier decision by a California court to restore public access to beach. The court, however, refused to hear Khosla’s appeal to overturn a ruling.

Last August Khosla was ordered to reopen the beach he closed to the public in 2010, ending “this peculiar saga” which has captivated Silicon Valley.

Last week, one user said it was “some serious disruption” — using typical entrepreneurial jargon — given that Khosla had been “able to somehow, some way, transpose this tweet from the cave wall on which you wrote it in 4000 BCE to this website”.

An Indian user jumped in with an IIT reference to the sexism: “IIT bro will be IIT bro,” alluding to newspaper reports about issue of casual sexism at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay(IIT-B).

A survey conducted by Insight, an in-house publication by the students to delve deeper into the issue of casual sexism in Bombay IIT noted last year that as many as 63 percent students are aware about the issue at (IIT-B) but chose to ignore it and trivialized it as a non-issue.

According to the report, another person found a link to a news article from 2017, in which Khosla was quoted as saying that gender discrimination was rarer among venture capitalists than in other industries.

Amidst criticisms and ridicule, some users also caught on to the phrase “actual humans” — what is one, some asked, and another wondered if the opposite of an actual human was Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant device.”

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