Google to Employees: Feel Safe Sharing Your Opinions, as Long as They’re Our Opinions

English: Google Logo officially released on Ma...
English: Google Logo officially released on May 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Former Google engineer James Damore is suddenly between jobs. He’s been fired, Bloomberg reports, for writing “an internal memo blasting the web company’s diversity policies.” Google has long cultivated a reputation for hiring smart people, turning them loose, and listening to them. This firing puts a giant dent in that reputation.

Media reports describe Damore’s memo as a rant, a tirade, a screed, sexist, anti-diversity, and a whole bunch of other bad things. I was almost afraid to read the 10-page document. Might it traumatize or trigger me in some way, perhaps turn me into a raving ax murderer? Perhaps, but for you, my dear readers, I took the risk. My reaction …

Really? People are upset about THIS? The next 10-page document I can’t find something in to disagree with will be the first such 10-page document, but I’m frankly flabbergasted at the vitriol greeting this particular memo. Damore’s approach is both liberal in the classical sense and fully in line with any reasonable notion of diversity and inclusion. A representative sample:

“I hope it’s clear that I’m not saying that diversity is bad, that Google or society is 100% fair, that we shouldn’t try to correct for existing biases, or that minorities have the same experience of those in the majority. My larger point is that we have an intolerance for ideas and evidence that don’t fit a certain ideology. I’m also not saying that we should restrict people to certain gender roles; I’m advocating for quite the opposite: treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group (tribalism).”

Damore relates (Google doesn’t comment on firings) that he was dismissed for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.” Well, maybe. Part of the memo is couched in the language of science and biology and aimed at offering an explanation other than bias per se for unequal representation in certain tech industry career niches. But supposing, for the sake of argument, that Damore is incorrect in his theory, how are his errors to be corrected, and the problems of gender stereotypes transcended, if discussion of those topics is forbidden?

In a memo responding to the controversy, Google Vice President of Diversity, Integrity & Governance Danielle Brown writes:

“Part of building an open, inclusive environment means fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions. But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws.”

In other words, feel safe sharing your opinions — as long as they’re the approved opinions and deviate not a whit therefrom. Otherwise, clean out your desk and wait for security to escort you from the premises.

I fully support Google’s right to hire and fire anyone, for any reason its management deems right and necessary. But Damore’s dismissal over this innocuous memo exposes a cancerous hypocrisy in the company’s culture. “Damoregate” may someday be remembered as the beginning of the end for a once forward-thinking and innovative enterprise.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter:[email protected]) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION/CITATION HISTORY

Mueller v. Trump: Ain’t Life Grand?

English: The Old Grand Jury Road, Saintfield (...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Wall Street Journal reports that “Special Counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections.” That report diverges from reality when it comes to purpose. Mueller’s aim (and therefore the grand jury’s real purpose) is to “get” US president Donald Trump and key members of his administration.  “Russian meddling” is just the pretext.

Trump’s true crime in the eyes of the establishments of both major political parties is that he beat them. First he whipped a large field of certified establishment Republicans in the primaries, then he shut down the “inevitable” Hillary Clinton in last November’s general election. For this he cannot be forgiven. But, well, winning a presidential election isn’t against the law. So they have to find something else to nail him on.

It won’t be hard.

As the Future of Freedom Foundation’s Jacob Hornberger points out, Trump’s business background is a target-rich environment. He’s spent his whole career operating at the intersection of legitimate business endeavor and government favoritism, and that intersection is a mine field. America’s complex web of economic regulation is custom-made for “gotcha” prosecution of those who step out of line (upsetting the political establishment’s applecart is definitely stepping out of line).

Not that Trump’s special  in that regard. We’re all potentially at risk. Massachusetts attorney Harvey A. Silverglate’s Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent explains that any or all of us are juicy, vulnerable targets for federal law enforcers should we happen to come to their attention (Trump has come to their attention). These days there are more “crimes” than you can shake a stick at. In fact, shaking a stick at them is probably a crime. Maybe one of the three you or I committed today.

And then there’s the catch-all: Conspiracy. Mueller doesn’t have to catch Trump red-handed delivering an envelope full of cash to a fixer or an envelope full of secrets to Vladimir Putin. Once he starts securing indictments on the people around Trump for offenses large and small, he can hit his real target by theorizing Trump’s peripheral involvement in their crimes (or in covering up their crimes).

Trump is, beyond a shadow of doubt, guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, including but not limited to pursuing wars of aggression (the ultimate war crime) in Syria and elsewhere.  He is therefore worthy of impeachment and imprisonment under both US and international law.

But, sadly, he won’t be pursued for those crimes. After all, his pursuers are also his accomplices. In fact, part of their problem with him is that he’s shown insufficient enthusiasm for that particular variety of criminal enterprise.

The ultimate crime, in his persecutors’ eyes, is Trump’s reprise of Rodney Dangerfield’s role in Caddyshack. He’s the loud, brash outsider crashing their sedate, classy club and embarrassing the beautiful people who think themselves the owners of the country. Therefore, he must go.

And it’s beginning to look like he will. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter:[email protected]) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION/CITATION HISTORY

If You’ve Got Nothing to Hide, You’ve Got Nothing to Fear, JFK Assassination Edition

Two photographs of Lee Harvey Oswald holding h...
Two photographs of Lee Harvey Oswald holding his Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, his pistol, and two newspapers, in his backyard in Dallas, Texas. JFK Exhibit F-179 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As America marked the 50th anniversary of US president John F. Kennedy’s assassination four years ago, a clear majority of Americans (according to polls by Gallup and AP/GfK) still believed that the whole truth of what happened in Dallas on November 22, 1963 remains unknown: That Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone and that the killing was in fact the result of a conspiracy.

One good reason for that belief, or at least for skepticism as to the truth of the official narrative, is continued government secrecy.

To this very day, thousands of government files — mostly produced by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency — remain classified and hidden from public view.

The John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act, passed by Congress in 1992, requires the release of the last of those documents no later than this October unless  US president Donald Trump intervenes to keep them secret on grounds of “national security.”  Politico reports that “Congressional and other government officials have told us in confidence that at least two federal agencies — likely the CIA and FBI — are expected to appeal to Trump to block the unsealing of at least some of the documents.”

The Politico report focuses on a document release in late July which is intriguing because it reveals CIA skepticism of the official narrative. No, no “smoking gun” revelations of additional assassins on the grassy knoll, nor even hints at a wider conspiracy, but rather fear that Oswald’s motives, if fully explored, might badly embarrass the agency.

The Warren Commission dismissed those motives as mere “hatred for American society.” But suppose Oswald acted from anger at the CIA’s series of failed  attempts on the life of Cuba’s Fidel Castro?

The CIA has long since copped to its Castro assassination campaign. But admitting that that campaign’s sole fruit was the killing of an American president even as the agency’s actual target lived to a ripe old age and died a natural death would smart to this very day.

And who knows? 54 years ago such a revelation might have even prompted real public reconsideration of the young but quickly growing national security state president Dwight D. Eisenhower had warned the nation of in his farewell address only two years before.

If the final documents are released and it turns out that “Oswald’s act was blowback” is the secret that’s been so closely guarded these 50-odd years, it likely won’t be enough to spark such a reconsideration. 9/11 has probably secured the future of America as a garrison state for at least another generation come what may.

But let’s see that material anyway. What say you, CIA? If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear, right?

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter:[email protected]) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION/CITATION HISTORY