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Daniel Frampton: You can have any opinion you like – so long as it is Google’s


Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Damore, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones; so let it be with Damore. The noble BBC hath told you Damore was sexist: if it were so, it was a grievous fault, and grievously hath Damore answer’d it. Here, under leave of the BBC and the rest – for the BBC is an honourable broadcaster; so are they all, all honourable broadcasters – come I to speak in Damore’s funeral.

James Damore, software engineer and author of the now infamous Google memo, has been fired by the company, all because he had the temerity to propose that ‘we need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism’. This proclamation was tantamount to heresy, of course, implying that men and women aren’t necessarily the same. Out came the long knives, not exactly in the Senate House, but at Google headquarters. Damore apparently breached their standards of ‘diversity and inclusion’. Google is not so familiar with the concept of irony, it seems.

The mainstream media have played their part, unquestionably, in building up Damore’s funeral pyre. Argumentum ad hominem is standard leftist procedure, sifting through Damore’s supposed controversies at Harvard, for example. As well as this, simply being referred to as ‘anti-feminist’ is considered to be enough of a condemnation in today’s intellectual climate. This is despite the fact that Damore went to considerable lengths to counter such accusations in his memo, stating at the outset that ‘I value diversity and inclusion’. He made the mistake of believing he was dealing with a reasonable and rational work environment.

The memo itself, circulated internally, highlights research suggesting that there are apparent biological differences that explain why women are underrepresented in certain fields of employment, including tech. However, Damore makes a point of adding that ‘these differences are small and there’s significant overlap between men and women, so you can’t say anything about an individual given these population level distributions’. Moreover, Damore subscribes to Google’s policy of encouraging gender equality. He merely suggests that Google could achieve this by making employment more congenial for women, rather than relying on discriminatory quotas.

Damore’s measured tone and numerous caveats did nothing to spare him the usual attempts at character assassination by the Left. This has been accompanied by a wanton campaign of misrepresentation by the mainstream media, including the BBC, whose headline ‘Google employee anti-diversity memo causes row’, dated 7 August, affirmed the false narrative that the memo was ‘anti-diversity’. Although the BBC subsequently presented the case for and against the memo’s foundation in science, this deliberate distortion of Damore’s well-argued memo persisted.

The broadcaster Kate Bevan, whose commentary on the memo was featured on the BBC website, also mischaracterised Damore’s communication to a shameful degree, claiming that the Google employee wrote that a large number of his female colleagues at Google were not good enough for the job. ‘The best engineers are not necessarily male’, she comments. This is obviously true. Yet Damore’s memo does not actually contradict this point. Either Bevan has not read the memo or she has wilfully misconstrued its general thesis for the sake of inciting a furore founded on fake news. But why should she do this? The answer is very simple. Bevan, like so many others, must generate a comprehensive culture of calculated outrage in order to delegitimise valid arguments that, if proven to be true, present an existential threat to the Left’s own worldview.

Bevan declares that ‘I’m not very keen on the mob going for people to get the sack… but in this case he was acting in a way that was detrimental to his colleagues’. In other words, she is in all in favour of free speech, but in this case, because Damore’s memo opposes her own feminist ideology, we should throw him to the mob. Her entire claim, so typical of the Left, has been designed to justify a cosy bigotry couched in supposed tolerance of diversity; that is to say, every diversity apart from the only diversity that really matters, which is a diversity of opinion. Diversity has essentially been weaponised in order to silence dissent.

Damore’s memo also featured the proposition that ‘in highly progressive environments’, such as Google, ‘conservatives are a minority that feel like they need to stay in the closet to avoid open hostility’. Far from contradicting this statement, Google reinforced it by sacking the author. Danielle Brown, Google’s ‘brand new VP of Diversity, Integrity & Governance’, claimed in a memo of her own that Google seeks to build ‘an open, inclusive environment… fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions’ –  but only so long as such discourse continues ‘to work alongside the principles of equal employment’. Brown, much like Bevan, undercuts her own avowals of tolerance by appealing to a hierarchy of supposed sweetness and light. It is drivel, but it is drivel with a purpose. It sends a clear message: Damore is correct, alternative views are not welcome at Google. Get used to it.

‘Changing a culture is hard, and it’s often uncomfortable’, an unapologetic Brown writes. In essence, Damore was a casualty of war, she tells us – a war that has been declared by the Left, which now finds itself in possession of some considerably influential internet platforms. An entire generation of social justice warriors has graduated from leftist campuses and has come to infiltrate such companies as Google. This also includes YouTube, which recently announced that it would apply ‘tougher treatment’ to so-called ‘controversial’ content deemed ‘potential’ hate speech.

Demonetisation and the placing of content in what YouTube terms a ‘limited state’ actively discriminates against dissenting opinions. PragerU videos, promulgating conservative points of view, have been subject to similar forms of ‘soft’ censorship already. Twitter has also been known to bar non-leftists from its platform. Conservatives will have to develop strategies of their own to combat this novel form of warfare.

Damore’s statement that Google is an ‘ideological echo chamber’ hostile to conservative opinion is somewhat irrelevant now. What is really significant here is that Google has all but confirmed this notion by firing the author of the memo.

In other words, it appears that Google has chosen a side, prompted perhaps by Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. The facade is crumbling. The firing of Damore marks what I think is an instinctive escalation in a cold war that has been growing increasingly hot over the past decade. My heart is in the coffin there with Damore. It may be that this game of pretend is now at an end. The SJWs have graduated.

(Image: TopRank Marketing)

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Daniel Frampton
Daniel Frampton
Daniel Frampton is a historian and writer.

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