A 10-page weekend memo by a former Google engineer called for a rethinking of the company’s “extreme and authoritarian” culture of “diversity and inclusion.” His reward? He was fired, of course, proving his point.
If you need any further proof that what software engineer James Damore said was true it was in the immediate reaction on Monday by Google to his screed. Damore said he had been fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.”
In making a plea for being treated as an individual, Damore wasn’t ranting, calling anyone names or making claims that couldn’t be sustained by simple recourse to a biology text or, even, to personal experience. Even so, his anodyne comments were treated as extreme ideological anathema, and he was instantly banished from the company for making them. Fired.
Be clear on this: Damore was only asking for tolerance of different points of view, including those of conservatives. He described himself as a “classical liberal,” which means he believes in reason, tolerance, freedom of conscience and the right of individuals to their own beliefs.
He was careful to note, too, that he is not inimical to much of what Google’s authoritarian culture now imposes on its workers: “I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don’t endorse using stereotypes.” What he did oppose was the one-size fits-all culture of victimhood and deified diversity that the company, like much of the rest of Silicon Valley’s tech culture, forces its employees to adopt.
He didn’t demand acquiescence to his own views. He merely asked for an “honest discussion” of the fact that we are not all mere emblems of different victim groups, but rather individuals, and deserve to be treated as such.
“Google’s political bias has equated freedom from offense with psychological safety, but shaming into silence is the antithesis of psychological safety,” Damore wrote. “This silencing has created an ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed.”
Yet in the end, Damore said, he was fired for the odious crime of “perpetuating gender stereotypes.”
Damore’s firing only adds an exclamation point to his reasoned remarks. And Google executives jumped on the bandwagon, issuing remarks to show just how “woke” and completely brainwashed they were into the company’s ideology. It’s sickeningly reminiscent of the bad old days of the purges in the Soviet Union and the Cultural Revolution in China, when friends, colleagues and family were routinely compelled to publicly denounce and criticize those whose beliefs had suddenly become fatally politically incorrect.
Google will now be faced with the irony of being sued for its own intolerance. Steeped as it is in Silicon Valley’s culture of immense moral privilege, it doesn’t seem to understand that federal anti-discrimination statutes don’t allow companies to discriminate against someone for their political views. It’s not allowed. It’s un-American.
And who knows? As some have suggested, Google’s intolerant political monoculture and extreme dominance of its markets might tempt federal antitrust officials into taking action to break it up. In the interest of “diversity,” of course.
Google and others in Silicon Valley such as Apple have a creepy habit of lecturing Americans on their backward political and moral beliefs, while serving as authoritarian nannies for what we read, write and view. They pose as guardians of personal and intellectual freedom, but are really centurions of the new censorship, stifling debate and thought itself.
In Google’s case, its Orwellian insistence on a kind of progressive groupthink is beyond creepy — when magnified across dozens of politically correct corporations across the country, it poses a danger to our nation and its precious freedoms. The chief diversity officer of Google, Danielle Brown, wouldn’t even link to Damore’s memo, claiming “it’s not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages.”
Apparently, neither does the rest of the tech world. As Elaine Ou, a blockchain engineer at Global Financial Access, pointed out in Bloomberg: “Past and present colleagues chimed in over the weekend with calls for (Damore) to be ousted. Media outlets like TechCrunch, Gizmodo and Motherboard jumped on board to declare the memo an ‘Anti-Diversity Manifesto.’ It appears that the ideological echo chamber extends beyond Google’s campus.”
This is indeed a major problem in a country premised on the sanctity of free speech and the right to one’s own opinion.
Sadly, Google’s is the kind of thinking one expects from totalitarians, not from those who prize intellectual freedom, the right of dissent, and an open society based on reason. Google and all the rest of the anti-freedom left should be deeply ashamed of itself. If this is “woke,” maybe it’s time Google went back to sleep.
Egyptian TV host Youssef Al-Husseini after the London mosque attack.
“What’s the true test of one’s commitment to free speech? It does not come when he permits people to be free to say or publish ideas with which he agrees. Not by a long shot. The true test of one’s commitment to free speech comes when he permits others to say and publish ideas he deems offensive.”
— Walter E. Williams
From David French:
If you’re a lawyer arguing against free speech at the Supreme Court, be prepared to lose. Today the Court affirmed once again the Constitution’s strong protections against governmental viewpoint discrimination, even when the viewpoint discrimination is directed against “offensive” speech. In Matal v. Tam, the Court considered the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s refusal to register a trademark for a band called “The Slants” on the grounds that the name violated provisions of the Lanham Act that prohibited registering trademarks that “disparage . . . or bring into contemp[t] or disrepute” any “persons, living or dead.”
Given existing First Amendment jurisprudence, there would have been a constitutional earthquake if SCOTUS hadn’t ruled for Tam. The Court has long held that the Constitution protects all but the narrowest categories of speech. Yet time and again, governments (including colleges) have tried to regulate “offensive” speech. Time and again, SCOTUS has defended free expression. Today was no exception. Writing for a unanimous Court, Justice Alito noted that the Patent and Trademark Office was essentially arguing that “the Government has an interest in preventing speech expressing ideas that offend.” His response was decisive:
[A]s we have explained, that idea strikes at the heart of the First Amendment. Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express “the thought that we hate.”
Quick, someone alert the snowflakes shouting down speeches on campus or rushing stages in New York. There is no constitutional exception for so-called “hate speech.” Indeed, governments are under an obligation to protect controversial expression. Every justice agrees.
The ruling is worth celebrating, but when law and culture diverge, culture tends to win. The law protects free speech as strongly as it ever has. The culture, however, is growing increasingly intolerant – subjecting dissenters to shout-downs, reprisals, boycotts, shame campaigns, and disruptions. Some of this conduct is legal (boycotts and public shaming), some isn’t (shout-downs, riots, and disruptions), but all of it adds up to a society that increasingly views free speech as a dangerous threat, and not as one of our constitutional republic’s most vital assets. Liberty is winning the important judicial battles, but it may well lose the all-important cultural war.
From Alan Dershowitz:
In his testimony former FBI director James Comey echoed a view that I alone have been expressing for several weeks, and that has been attacked by nearly every Democratic pundit.
Comey confirmed that under our Constitution, the president has the authority to direct the FBI to stop investigating any individual. I paraphrase, because the transcript is not yet available: the president can, in theory, decide who to investigate, who to stop investigating, who to prosecute and who not to prosecute. The president is the head of the unified executive branch of government, and the Justice Department and the FBI work under him and he may order them to do what he wishes.
As a matter of law, Comey is 100 percent correct. As I have long argued, and as Comey confirmed in his written statement, our history shows that many presidents—from Adams to Jefferson, to Lincoln, to Roosevelt, to Kennedy, to Bush 1, and to Obama – have directed the Justice Department with regard to ongoing investigations. The history is clear, the precedents are clear, the constitutional structure is clear, and common sense is clear.
Yet virtually every Democratic pundit, in their haste to “get” President Trump, has willfully ignored these realities. In doing so they have endangered our civil liberties and constitutional rights.
From Charles Krauthammer:
There is a loss of spirit in the west, not so much in the U.S. as in Europe, where we don’t believe in ourselves, where our history is flawed, where we teach our kids all of the sins of the American republic and none of the glories. When you do that for a long enough time, you end up with a generation that doesn’t know why they should be proud to be Americans, why they should be defending America.