I’ve been getting a bunch of queries from folks asking if I could provide any insight into alt-right darling James Damore’s class action lawsuit against Google. I have no personal knowledge of the circumstances of that suit, and so I have nothing to say about its specific allegations.
I do however have considerable insight into Google’s culture — I spent enough time inside Google several years ago to have a pretty clear sense of that.
While like any other firm Google isn’t perfect, Google in particular has a culture to be roundly applauded, not condemned — I believe the finest I’ve seen in any corporate environment during my career.
Let’s start with an obvious truth.
White heterosexual males — like myself — don’t need any special protections in the USA. When you hear straight white males bitching about supposedly being discriminated against, you can be sure that nearly always these snowflakes (to borrow a term typically thrown against liberals by the alt-right) are actually upset about pushback regarding their own racism, antisemitism, or other expressed hate speech.
Unapologetic racists like Donald Trump and many of his followers falsely assert that left and right both use the same tactics.
That claim is indeed a lie. There is no organized structure of hate and false propaganda aimed at the right, while the right most certainly has devoted vast efforts to such attacks directed at the left, even beyond the right’s traditional hate groups such as the KKK and Nazis. There is no valid comparison.
Right-wing groups are upset that new fact checking systems on social media and search predominantly point out the lies on right-wing sites (as opposed to more left-oriented sites). The reason for this is simple and obvious — those right-wing sites are the primary sources of lying propaganda (and the vast majority of hate speech). You just don’t find anything comparable in scope on left-wing sites. That’s just a fact.
Which brings us back to Google.
Google has a remarkably freewheeling internal discussion culture. The great extent to which Googlers debate technical and policy issues inside Google is in fact vastly reassuring in ways I’d never seen anywhere else in my life. Within hours of first logging in, I was personally invited into several important discussion forums — I later joined many more — and I even started several discussion lists internally myself while I was there, on topics that I felt were important.
As in most other large firms today, there are many employees at Google who are not white, straight males like me. And it’s my personal belief that it’s essentially impossible for guys like me to truly understand what it’s like for women, for blacks, for LGBT individuals, and for other minorities who typically have little power in our country, many of whom live in fear of serious discrimination and even personal harm in the daily lives. They feel — with complete justification — that they are under constant threat.
Google’s culture is widely inclusive and celebratory of true diversity. This is enormously positive. It’s good for Google, it’s good for Google’s users, and it’s good for the broader community. I wish every large firm were equally forward-thinking in such regards.
But such inclusiveness does not imply that any firm need tolerate employees whose freely stated views are fundamentally hateful, sexist, racist, antisemitic, or otherwise divisive — often attacking the very groups that I described above who are most in need of protection.
This is not an issue of political viewpoints. It’s a matter of how so many white male conservatives attempt to camouflage their racial and other hateful animus in hypocritical claims of being discriminated against, as if the rest of us were obligated to just stand by idly while they attempt to sabotage everything positive that we’ve built.
If you spend some time over on alt-right websites (not recommended shortly after eating), you’ll quickly learn that making false claims of “discrimination against whites” is a major bullet point high up in their playbooks. It’s explicitly seen as a way to inject racial and other divisiveness into firms (and society generally) without the need to buy white hoods or sew swastikas onto your clothing.
Don’t be fooled by alt-right rhetoric. White guys like me are at the top of the power food chain in the USA. Racist alt-right forces are explicitly working to falsely and deviously weaponize open discussions and anti-discrimination laws designed to protect the truly vulnerable, attempting to hideously mutate those laws into tools to spread hate, racism, and worse throughout our country and the world.
We should be honoring and supporting companies, organizations, and individuals who resist these efforts by haters to roll back the clock to the mindset of slavery, lynchings, and government-enforced white and male supremacy.
To do any less is to empower the worst part of our natures as Americans, and to surrender our great country to the real world forces of evil.