The Google programmer who was fired after writing a 10-page critique of the company’s stance on gender diversity has issued a public statement on the events, framing his firing as a panicked PR effort by a company browbeaten by political correctness.
In a lengthy internal document which became public last Saturday, James Damore argued in part that women may be inherently inferior to men at writing software, and that discussion of the issue within Google was stifled by progressive groupthink. Damore was swiftly fired for violating Google’s nondiscrimination policy.
Now, in an editorial for the Wall Street Journal, Damore has essentially doubled down on that position, saying that “My firing neatly confirms” the claim that Google is an “ideological echo chamber.”
When his arguments became public, Damore says, Google management “tried to placate” the ensuing outrage by “shaming me and misrepresenting my document.” He describes the company’s actions as silencing “open and honest discussion.”
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In one of the editorial’s more interesting moments, Damore quotes linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky’s observation that “the smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”
Chomsky, a lifelong intellectual leader of the far left, might be troubled to be cited by Damore, who has become an overnight darling of the so-called ‘alt-right.’ But this sort of connection is often made by younger adherents of conservative, anti-diversity positions, who often see themselves as outsiders and inheritors of the rebellious spirit of leftist social movements of the past. That tendency played out again today as alt-right organizers planned marches on Google facilities.
It’s not hard to empathize with Damore's sense that he has been harshly punished by one of the world’s most powerful corporations simply for expressing an unpopular opinion. But his new statement largely ignores the more immediate reason Google may have been compelled to fire him: not public outrage, but legal risk. Another former Googler argued after Damore’s memo leaked that the document “caused significant harm... to the company’s entire ability to function” by creating “a textbook hostile workplace environment.”
In other words, by continuing to employ Damore, who seems to believe some of his colleagues were fundamentally unfit to do their jobs, Google might have opened itself up to much broader legal action.