Beware. Big PC Bro is watching.
Not since Jerry Maguire circulated his mission statement at Sports Management International has an internal memo so backfired on its author as James Damore’s written thoughts on the tech world’s groupthink did.
The Google engineer wrote that “when it comes to diversity and inclusion, Google’s left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence. This silence removes any checks against encroaching extremist and authoritarian policies.”
Google quickly terminated Damore (Maybe Brendan Eich is hiring).
Point proved. But at what cost?
More chilling than the actions of the executives are the opinions of the employees. Just a slight majority of Google’s employees disagreed with the company axing the engineer for reasons unrelated to his job. A minority of Apple, Lyft, and LinkedIn workers disagreed with Google’s actions. Silicon Valley’s libertarian paradise lost more closely resembles the college campuses from where its credentialed inhabitants came. Company men (and company women here and there) toil in the massive Northern California company town.
“Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” the controversial 3,000+ word firing offense, argued that we should not reflexively attribute differences in gender representation in the workplace to discrimination. Men and women exhibit different traits. Perhaps nature draws males to such fields and women to other fields.
“Only facts and reason can shed light on these biases,” Damore writes, “but discriminating just to increase the representation of women in tech is as misguided and biased as mandating increases for women’s representation in the homeless, work-related and violent deaths, prisons, and school dropouts.”
Damore explains that a 12-hour flight back to the United States from a diversity seminar in China catalyzed the memo. Apparently, the sensitivity training did not affect him as intended.
And that’s the rub with diversity, tolerance, sensitivity, and other progressive shibboleths. Proselytizing occasionally unleashes the opposite of the intended effect. And the people committed to those principles often violate them in pursuit of them (hence James Damore standing in the unemployment line).
Some people miss their own irony. They silence in the name of tolerance, discriminate in the name of fighting discrimination, and react to microaggressions with macroaggressions. The glorious ends justify the ignoble means. Unfortunately, the ends never come. We get the mean means over and over again.
Google grew into a $200 billion behemoth befitting of its name because its founders cultivated it in the United States, the most fertile ground for freedom of speech. Its popularity springs not from it excluding controversial topics from its search engine but because it exists as an index of everything. If the government adopted the intolerant principles of Google, then Google would not exist. Google welcomes pornographers, skinheads, libelers, and other loathsome types in its cyberspace. Google cannot endure James Damore working for it. Hmmm.
Web surfers thankfully possess the power to look up any topic through Google. They also retain the power to search through Bing, Yahoo, and even AskJeeves (though he now goes by another web moniker). Why signal to such a large portion of humanity that they welcome their page visits to Google but forbid their views in the Googleplex?
Big Google, like Big Government, senses that it is too big to fail, too big to fall, and too big to boycott. Maybe the company’s executives are right. But that doesn’t make them right to do wrong — even when, as a private entity, they possess the right to commit such a wrong.
Leon Trotsky, an idea man behind the Russian Revolution, reflected on the total state’s intolerance after falling afoul of the one he helped create.
“In a country where the sole employer is the state, opposition means death by slow starvation,” Trotsky, who felt the ice pick as sure as Robespierre felt the guillotine, famously observed. “The old principle: who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced by a new one: who does not obey shall not eat.”
Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.