Get ready for the 'tech alt-right' to gain power and influence in Silicon Valley
The firing of James Damore over his “Google's Ideological Echo Chamber” memo will empower the tech alt-right.
To understand why, imagine yourself as a Republican working at a big Silicon Valley tech company.
You agree with Damore that some average differences between men and women probably explain some of why such a high proportion of computer programmers are male. You, however, in no way consider yourself sexist.
What Damore’s termination tells you is that many in your field consider people with your beliefs to be unfit to work with. They hold opinions of you similar to those of former senior Google employee Yonatan Zunger, who wrote about Damore, saying:
“Do you understand that at this point, I could not in good conscience assign anyone to work with you? I certainly couldn’t assign any women to deal with this, a good number of the people you might have to work with may simply punch you in the face, and even if there were a group of like-minded individuals I could put you with, nobody would be able to collaborate with them.” (Emphasis mine.)
If you are on the right, you probably find it hard to imagine that any reasonably person could read Damore’s memo and think that it reveals the author to be sexist, punchable, or a danger to women’s careers. It appears to you that Damore was excommunicated for questioning the progressive diversity narrative in a most respectful manner.
The right calls the kind of people who went after Damore by the derogative term “Social Justice Warriors” (SJWs). SJWs hold progressive views on diversity and identify politics and, supposedly, find virtue in harming those with heretical beliefs.
Many on the right fear SJWs. The website Breitbart, highly influential among conservatives and the Trump administration, interviewed an anonymous Googler who said in part:
“Several managers have openly admitted to keeping blacklists of the employees in question, and preventing them from seeking work at other companies. There have been numerous cases in which social justice activists coordinated attempts to sabotage other employees’ performance reviews for expressing a different opinion. These have been raised to the Senior VP level, with no action taken whatsoever…There have been a number of massive witch hunts where hundreds of SJWs mobilize across the corporate intranet to punish somebody who defied the Narrative…I always fear for my job and operate with the expectation that I will be purged unless something changes…”
Many Business Insider readers won’t trust an anonymous Breitbart interview, but for what’s relevant to this article, please do trust that this Googler’s views accurately reflects how many on the right think about SJWs.
Vox Day, a leader of the alt-right, wrote a book called “SJWs Always Lie” with the explicit goal to “show you how SJWs operate, teach you how to see through their words, explain how to correctly anticipate their actions, and give you the weapons you need to successfully thwart their inevitable attempts to disqualify you, discredit you, and destroy your reputation.”
Damore’s firing is probably going to cause many Silicon Valley Republicans to prepare themselves by reading this book.
The key difference in tactics between the alt-right and traditional right is that the alt-right doesn’t place much value on playing fair, and they mock conservatives’ seeming desire to lose honorably. On a recent Periscope video Vox said that his supporters in tech companies (which he claims are numerous) should “be the second or third most enthusiastic SJW in your group.”
He considers SWJs to be the enemy that’s beyond reason. When a commentator suggested that publically supporting SJW views might give them legitimacy, Vox said “F--- legitimacy. You are thinking like a conservative…”
It will be poisonous if the tech right feels compelled to not only hide their beliefs but also to actively pretend to believe in progressive diversity values. This pretending will embitter them, probably pushing many to the more radical alt-right.
It will prevent the left and right from getting meaningful feedback on their belief. Plus, if progressives never talked with people on the right, they wouldn’t get to learn that most of us do not fit their stereotypes of being sexist monsters.
When SJWs in Silicon Valley realize that their ideological enemies are hiding, they might actively search them out. They might become suspicious of the guy who was the first to stop clapping when a new diversity initiative was announced. Even worse, SWJs in human resources might become reluctant to hire those with characteristics correlated with conservatism, such as past military service.
In “SJWs Always Lie,” Vox Day writes, “If you have any SJWs working under you, fire them…Above all, you must understand that the normal rules of live and let live are no long in effect.”
Business works best if different political tribes don’t seek to crush others when they have a temporary upper-hand. If, however, the right perceived that SJWs are after them, it’s understandable (if regrettable) that they will treat SJWs likewise when they have the power.
Although the left greatly outnumbers the right in tech, if the right uses stealth tactics and the left doesn’t, the right might eventually gain an advantage in the career-destroying game because they will more easily locate high-value targets.
The alt-right’s favorite insult is “Cuckservative,” title of another Vox Day book.
A Cuckservative is a conservative who backs policies that will in the long run destroy conservatism such as, supposedly, supporting immigration of people whom will eventually become citizens who vote Democratic.
Lots of Republicans (me included) would have supported Google against government regulations and antitrust action and we were in no way bothered by Google's massive cultural power because this was the judgement of the free market.
We considered Google a great American success story. But this firing probably shows that many Googlers find us beneath contempt. Damore’s ouster has kind of turned us into Cuckservatives.
As a free market Republican, I dislike most of the alt-right policy views. But my kind are not inclined to fight an underhanded company by company dirty political war, while the alt-right is. If SJWs force the tech right into these fights, they will push them into the eager arms of the alt-right.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Business Insider.