White Women vs Free Speech: And Google is going to get sued.

Reply Tue 22 Aug, 2017 01:18 pm
Google’s sexist memo has provided the alt-right with a new martyr

James Damore’s diatribe against women in tech offers an insight into the male backlash that was an important factor in the rise of Trump

by Owen Jones
Tuesday 8 August 2017

Google has just reportedly fired one of its workers for circulating a memo discussing the biological inferiority of his female colleagues, and how this made them less suitable for tech. The software engineer in question is James Damore. You’re going to hear a lot about him in the coming weeks: he’ll probably be a star guest on alt-right shows and the rightwing lecture circuit, splashed on the front covers of conservative magazines, no doubt before a lucrative book deal about his martyrdom and what it says about the Liberal Big Brother Anti-White Man Thought Police. For the online right, he’s already a hero: I’ll wager that soon thousands of angry male rightists will change their Twitter profile pictures to Damore’s face, and their Twitter names to I Am James Damore.

Damore castigates his employer for believing an “extreme” idea – “all disparities in representation are due to oppression”, and then offering an “authoritarian” solution – that “we should discriminate to correct for this oppression.” But men and women are simply biologically different, he argues: women have a “stronger interest in people rather than things”, and that their alleged neuroticism and attachment to cooperation makes them less suitable as coders, compared to men who apparently inherently value competition and systematising. Google took the view that suggesting “a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK,” which is difficult to quibble with.

Damore’s assertions about gender are, frankly, guff dressed up with pseudo-scientific jargon: not just belittling women, but reducing men to the status of unemotional individualistic robots. But as Yonatan Zunger – until recently a senior Google employee – puts it, those men could not be good engineers. “Engineering is all about cooperation, collaboration, and empathy for both your colleagues and your customers,” as Zunger puts it. Yes, he notes, women are “socialised to be better” (note, not genetically pre-programmed) “at paying attention to people’s emotional needs and so on” – but this makes for better engineers.

Damore’s manifesto is insightful, just unintentionally so. It offers an insight into the male backlash that was one contributory factor – among many – to the rise of Donald Trump (ironically, it’s hard to think of a more neurotic, irrational, “emotional” public figure). The last century has been the battleground for a series of arduous and painful struggles for the emancipation of women and many minorities. These battles have proved so difficult because it’s involved trying to unwind centuries – millennia even – of systemic discrimination: entire societies rigged in favour of wealthy white straight men. There are people alive today who were born before women in the United States and Britain could even vote. But the gains of women, black and minority ethnic people, and LGBT people have inevitably come through chipping away at the privileges of others. And the challenge to this privilege is recast as authoritarianism – oppression even.

“Political correctness gone mad”, “you can’t say what you think any more”: these cliches underpin Damore’s manifesto, even though he refers to them fancily as Google’s “ideological echo chamber”. But he’s wrong. These movements have been liberating, not repressive. Literature was once censored for supposed “obscenity”. Questioning official religion could lead to being ostracised, even jailed in many western nations. You could be arrested as a man for winking at someone of the same gender in the street. The lived experiences of millions of people were erased from culture.

Today, men are more able to talk about their feelings and emotional problems, to take more of a role in family life, to have women as friends, and so on: though there is still so far to go in every department. The biggest killer of British men under 50, after all, is suicide: partly because of an authoritarian brand of masculinity which makes it hard to talk about feelings. The systemically suppressed talents of women and minorities are being unleashed – to the benefit of us all.

The manifesto tells us what we already knew: that a subsection of white men feel threatened and insecure. Everyone likes to feel they have achieved their lot in life on their own merit. It is a cause of profound insecurity for this to be challenged – to be forced to confront the idea you are partly where you are because life has been rigged in your favour (and what is more convenient than to appeal to biology to explain inequality? It’s fate rather than injustice, the comforting argument goes). And that’s why, incidentally, Google – like so many other companies – is disproportionately run by men from privileged backgrounds: because of odds stacked in their favour going back generations.

The struggles of women, people of colour and LGBT people have secured great advances – though they are continually imperilled, and are still far from achieving genuine equality and liberation. But the last two years, in particular, have underlined that gains are never won without a backlash. Damore is the latest martyr of these angry men. But the truth is they are so angry because they know, in the end, they are going to lose.

• Owen Jones is a Guardian columnist

0 Replies
Reply Tue 22 Aug, 2017 04:16 pm
Ah yes, the Alt-Right...the group that has embraced James Damore.

0 Replies
emmett grogan
Reply Fri 25 Aug, 2017 08:12 pm

In Wake Of White Supremacist March, UVA Welcomes Its ‘Most Diverse Class’ Ever

But the percentage of African-American students at the University of Virginia still greatly lags behind that of black high school graduates in the state.
By Ryan J. Reilly

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. ― Jonathan Mack was eating in Qdoba at The Corner, a restaurant-lined stretch of Chancellor Street, near the thriving hub of the University of Virginia, when he heard yelling and saw flames.

It was the Friday evening before the massive Aug. 12 rally that brought neo-Nazis and other white supremacists into downtown Charlottesville, Virginia, and ended in a deadly incident. Mack, a black student entering his second year at UVA, was back on campus earlier than most students because he works with the football team.

Torch-bearing bigots were already starting to gather that night, near a statue of former President Thomas Jefferson on campus.

“You could see torches and you could hear yelling,” Mack recalled in an interview at the same restaurant. “I was like, nope, going home. Doesn’t look good.”

Mack and his fellow UVA students are still processing the events that took place at their campus as they began classes this week, with the university still in recovery mode. Members of the University of Virginia’s community were injured over the chaotic weekend: a UVA employee had a stroke after being hit by a tiki torch, and a second-year student at the university sustained a skull fracture and facial wounds when a car driven by a white supremacist plowed into a group of counterprotesters downtown, killing one woman.
The Washington Post via Getty Images
Several hundred white supremacists carrying torches parade through the University of Virginia campus on Aug. 11.

More broadly, “Mr. Jefferson’s University” is grappling with its history and its future as an institution closely affiliated with a slave-owning founding father and now with frightening images of marching white supremacists.

Mack said he’d had a positive experience at UVA and was worried about the impression others may have of the university because of the images that filled social feeds this month. “UVA is definitely nowhere near associated with that,” he said.

But the open display of racism on UVA’s campus has reignited discussion about diversity at the university, which has long been an issue of concern. A black student didn’t graduate from the instition until 1959, long after many schools had integrated. And today, the school’s percentage of African-American students lags behind what might be expected for a public university in a state where 22 percent of public high school graduates are black.

UVA says it has made progress on the diversity front. The incoming class of freshmen ― or first-years, in UVA parlance ― is the “most diverse class” in the institution’s history, the university told HuffPost in a statement this week. (That claim evidently factors in socioeconomic diversity.) The school said that preliminary data shows a slight increase in the percentage of African-American undergrads, up to nearly 8.5 percent from 8.1 in 2016, and that black students make up 9 percent of the incoming class.

Marcus Martin, a UVA vice president and chief diversity officer, said that the school has made significant progress on enrolling and graduating African-American students. “The University of Virginia is strongly committed to an inclusive, welcoming and respectful environment,” Martin said.
Handout . / Reuters
Members of the Charlottesville community hold a vigil for Heather Heyer, a paralegal who died when a car driven by a white supremacist plowed into counterprotesters.

Still, UVA alumni have expressed concern about how the events earlier this month would impact incoming students, particularly students of color. A group of black alumni authored an open letter to the incoming class of 2021, telling them that they had all “experienced or witnessed racism and prejudice” during their time at UVA. However, they were able to “triumph over each situation through the help of the University, alumni and most importantly, through our relationships with one another in a community filled with love and support,” the letter states.

A group of black alumni came back to campus last Friday to help new students move in. Among them was 2011 graduate Yolanda Beasley, who recalled feeling like a bit of an outsider when she first arrived at UVA and wanted to make sure that new students felt welcome.

“We wanted to be those faces when students of color came to see us. We’re here, we’re present, we’re not hidden, we’re not in the shadows,” Beasley said. “We’re here, we’re strong, we’re taking a stand, and this is going to be the environment you’re proud of ― you’re going to be proud to be a part of.”
Ryan J Reilly / HuffPost
UVA students moving in a week after white supremacists marched on the grounds.

She said it was hard to believe that the white supremacists she saw in photos from the rally were walking the same streets she had as a student.

“All these happy memories that I have of this place kind of got tainted and spit on, honestly,” Beasley said. “This is what the whole UVA community is in the process of — reclaiming our ideals and affirming them not only to each other, but to the outside community.”

Timara Jones, a 2012 graduate, said it was “heartbreaking” to see the place where she had some of her most positive experiences taken over by bigots, and necessary for alumni to “be here to greet all students, but particularly our students of color.”

“As a black woman in the south, I’m not unfamiliar with seeing Confederate flags or Nazi flags or seeing division and hate. But to see it on my grounds, coming down my lawn, in places, streets that I’ve walked ― that was just like, ‘Woah,’” Jones said. “Anytime it happens in your own backyard or places you consider home, I feel like the feelings are magnified by 1,000.”

Many students and alumni said they have been concerned by the university’s reaction to the march. Some want UVA, which was built and maintained by thousands of slaves, to do more to acknowledge its own history. Student organizations also held their own “March to Reclaim Our Grounds” on Monday, where they presented a list of demands that included adding a plaque to UVA’s Jefferson statue that specifically notes its history as an “emblem of white supremacy.”

University administrators say they’re working to make the grounds more reflective of the school’s history, pointing to a forthcoming $6 million memorial to enslaved laborers that they hope to unveil in 2019.

But even as they push UVA to confront its history and further diversify its student body, alumni who spoke with HuffPost said they are determined to make sure black students don’t feel pushed out of the university.

Brandy Mokhtar, a Richmond resident who graduated from UVA in 1996, traveled to UVA for a candlelight vigil last week. She told HuffPost she felt “compelled” to help “cleanse and wash away all the hatred that was spread across the grounds.”

Mokhtar said UVA is generally “a very safe place,” and what happened there is not representative of the school. She said every university has “growing pains,” and that she felt the university responded well to incidents that took place when she was on campus two decades ago.

“I wanted to make sure that other students coming here in the next couple of days, the next couple of weeks, and also those who were considering coming to the university felt like they could have that experience as well,” she said.

America does not do a good job of tracking incidents of hate and bias. We need your help to create a database of such incidents across the country, so we all know what’s going on. Tell us your story.
0 Replies
Finn dAbuzz
Reply Tue 29 Aug, 2017 12:27 pm

So a majority of Americans must be women haters.
0 Replies
Reply Mon 18 May, 2020 07:58 am
Lawsuit ended. https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2020/05/10/google-james-damore-diversity-discrimination-lawsuit/3105662001/
Reply Mon 18 May, 2020 08:29 am

A lawyer for the men told Bloomberg his clients are prohibited from saying anything beyond what’s in the court filing.

That's ironic. It looks like it ended up with a payoff from Google and the men were forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

I find that funny (given the current opposition to NDAs from the left). I wonder how much Google paid them.
0 Replies
Reply Mon 18 May, 2020 08:51 am
I am thinking about how much James Damore got from Google to drop the lawsuit. Google has awfully deep pockets.

I am think the floor is a million dollars for each plaintiff and maybe a few million. This is a case that puts Google into the national spotlight on an issue that it doesn't want to discuss. If this goes to a public trial, Google gets squeezed between feminists and free-speech activists. The cost will not only be with public image, it will pull apart their workforce (software engineers tend to be libertarians and are rather big on free speech).

If it were me, I would want to clear at least $2 million for each plaintiff after money to cover the lawyers. Given the expense to Google for a public contentious trial that will divide its current workforce... they are still getting off cheap.

I wonder what James Damore actually got. With the NDA, we will probably never know.
0 Replies

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