A lot of controversies have been generated in Silicon Valley over the firing of James Damore, a Google programmer, who published an internal manifesto last week where he criticized Google’s diversity initiatives and its efforts to reduce the gender gap.

Many have said that firing Damore actually suppresses conservative viewpoints in the tech companies, which was one of the things Damore expressed on its 10-page manifesto “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.” Some have raised their voice to say that these actions violate Damore’s rights.

Image credit: Reuters / Christian Hartmann / Quartz
Image credit: Reuters / Christian Hartmann / Quartz

“I am very troubled by @google’s treatment of James Damore,” wrote Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.). “You shouldn’t lose your job for telling the truth!”

Why was Damore’s manifesto so controversial?

James Damore’s memo was published last week by Gizmondo after it circulated inside of the company. The memo was titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber, genders” and it criticized the initiatives of the company to close the gender gap and to have a more diverse staff. Damore says that these efforts are misguided because the gender disparities in the company are due to the biological nature sexes, not because of sexism or biased hiring practices.  He said women are not as good as men are in engineering, coding or technology because the nature of women makes them be more interested in arts and other things. As well, he said women tend to be more neurotic, and that they have a low tolerance for stress.

This memo generated a lot of criticism towards Damore, who was fired on Monday. Google declared that none of these statements represented the vision of the company.

It also opened the lengthy discussion about sexism in the tech industry, because even if Google is at the center of all the controversy, it is clear that it is not the sole tech company where these kind of beliefs are present.

Image credit: Getty Images / The Economist
Image credit: Getty Images / The Economist

Conservatives are supporting Damore

Conservatives and some activists have said that Google is violating Damore’s rights to say what he thinks. They also consider that conservative beliefs are no longer being accepted or tolerated in the tech industry. They believe that their point of view is being censored in workplaces and by the academia.

Wesearchr, a crowdfunding site created a fundraiser for Damore. It had raised $40,000 as of Friday afternoon.

Some Republican lawmakers – including Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher – have also made comments criticizing Google’s decision of firing Damore. Cornyn said that google violated Damore’s First Amendment rights.

New York Times columnist David Brooks demanded Google CEO Sundar Pichai to resign. He stated that Damore’s point of view was valid and that the media misinterpreted it

“He could have wrestled with the tension between population-level research and individual experience,” Brooks wrote in his column about Pichai. “He could have stood up for the free flow of information. Instead, he joined the mob.”

Damore has been welcomed in right-wing circles

Though he lost his job, Damore is using up his time to strengthen its profile and prestige among the right-wing. He created a new twitter account called @Fired4Truth, and he has been posting tweets showing support to alt-right figures. He also retweeted a post from Katie McHugh where she criticized Pichai. McHugh is a journalist who was fired from Breitbart in June after tweeting an anti-Muslim comment in the context of the terrorist attacks that took place in London. In the picture shown in his twitter account profile appears Damore wearing a shirt that says “Goolag.”

Image credit: James Damore / Twitter / Business Insider
Image credit: James Damore / Twitter / Business Insider

Damore said that he was fired because of bad publicity after his memo was leaked. He confessed that his memo was “heresy” against Google simply because he stated that not all disparities between genders are the result of discriminatory treatment. He also said that he shared the memo about a month ago with the diversity groups and individuals at Google. He said that it wasn’t perceived as an act of misogyny. Damore even confessed that at first he was mostly ignored, though he engaged in reasoned discussions and conversations with its co-workers about the topic.

Google had made efforts to improve its relationship with the Republicans

This adds more controversy to the claims Republicans have made about Silicon Valley being in favor of democrats. Last year, WikiLeaks published emails that showed that the CEO of Google parent company Alphabet, Eric Schmidt, was contributing to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. As well, many have said that Google had a good relationship with the Obama administration.

To erode these perceptions, Google has tried to improve their relationship with Republicans – especially since Trump arrived in the office with his promise of being tougher with corporate giants -, spending up to 9.4 million on federal lobby. However, Damore’s situation is certainly not helping to achieve that.

Source: The Hill