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Last night Peter Thiel was honored by The New Criterion with the tenth Edmund Burke Award for Service to Culture and Society at a gala dinner at the Metropolitan Club in New York City. The Edmund Burke Award celebrates individuals who have made conspicuous contributions to the defense of civilization. In his work as an entrepreneur and philanthropist, Thiel has proved himself a cogent advocate for individual freedom and a steadfast proponent of human flourishing. Innovative programs like the Thiel Fellowship, which annually awards twenty ambitious young adults with a $100,000 stipend to leave college and devote themselves to the betterment of society, attest to Thiel’s cultural stewardship and his commitment to the ideals Burke espoused. Thiel delivered remarks on “The Diversity Myth,” a version of which will be published in the June 2023 issue of The New Criterion.

“I’d wager that everyone in this room knows the outline of Peter Thiel’s remarkable career,” said Editor and Publisher Roger Kimball in opening: “his ceaseless energy in co-founding PayPal and many other tech and financial enterprises; his canny investments in entities like Facebook, LinkedIn, and SpaceX; his innovative and norm-changing philanthropy.”

In addition to Thiel’s activities as an entrepreneur and philanthropist, Kimball drew attention to the awardee’s literary endeavors, noting that the title of his acceptance speech hearkened back to a book Thiel wrote with David O. Sacks in 1998, The Diversity Myth. “They saw it all,” Kimball observed: “the attack on the Western canon, the whining claims of victim status by some of the world’s most privileged adolescents, the assaults on free speech, the substitution of ideology for insight.”

“Is some new dawn approaching?” Kimball asked in conclusion. “I do not know. But Peter Thiel is surely one of our most fearless and percipient watchmen of the night.”

Quoting Matthew Arnold’s injunction “to see the object as in itself it really is,” Executive Editor James Panero added that “we live in an age that has set itself in opposition to this critical effort . . . This evening, as we honor Peter and hear his trenchant remarks, we again take a stand for seeing things as they are.”

The sold-out gala dinner welcomed 260 supporters, a record for The New Criterion, and raised over $500,000 to benefit the publication. The award, which was first presented to Dr. Henry Kissinger in 2012, pays homage to the legacy of Edmund Burke, the eighteenth-century political philosopher. Previous honorees include Charles Murray (2015), Ayaan Hirsi Ali (2016), Victor Davis Hanson (2018), Conrad Black (2020), and Larry P. Arnn (2022). 

Among those supporting the 2023 gala were Elizabeth Ailes, Brian & Amy Anderson, Larry P. Arnn, Stephen Blackwood, Mary Ellen Bork, the William H. Donner Foundation, the Gale Foundation, George Gilder, Roger C. Hertog, Heather & James Higgins, Richard R. Hough III, Anna Khachiyan, Thomas D. Klingenstein, Ronald H. Lauder, Heather Mac Donald, James Meeks, Larry & Kathleen Mone, Dasha Nekrassova, Peter Pennoyer, Sally Pipes, Roger Ream, R. R. Reno, and Cameron & Tyler Winklevoss.

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