The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

‘Advancing Gender Stereotypes’: You Can Be Fired for Telling the Truth, Feds Rule

Posted on | February 17, 2018 | 2 Comments

 

Update on the Google gulag case:

Former Google engineer James Damore has attempted to take civil and legal action against his former employer after being fired in August, but on Thursday, a federal memo revealed that one of Damore’s filings has been unequivocally denied.
The National Labor Relations Board published its memo this week, which was issued in January after Damore filed a charge against his former employer on August 8. In spite of Damore withdrawing his NLRB filing in September, the board proceeded to examine and issue its own ruling: Google “discharged [Damore] only for [his] unprotected conduct while it explicitly affirmed [his] right to engage in protected conduct.” The NLRB emphasized that any charge filed by Damore on the matter should be “dismissed.”
In explaining the board’s reasoning, NLRB member Jayme Sophir points to two specific parts of the controversial memo circulated by Damore in August: Damore’s claim that women are “more prone to ‘neuroticism,’ resulting in women experiencing higher anxiety and exhibiting lower tolerance for stress” and that “men demonstrate greater variance in IQ than women.” . . .
[Sophir] says that specific Damore statements were “discriminatory and constituted sexual harassment, notwithstanding [his] effort to cloak [his] comments with ‘scientific’ references and analysis, and notwithstanding [his] ‘not all women’ disclaimers. Moreover, those statements were likely to cause serious dissension and disruption in the workplace.”
The NLRB memo also includes a quote from Google’s letter of termination given to Damore in August, which Sophir says focused specifically on offending, fireable content while also protecting other portions of his speech:

I want to make clear that our decision is based solely on the part of your post that generalizes and advances stereotypes about women versus men. It is not based in any way on the portions of your post that discuss [the Employer’s] programs or trainings, or how [the Employer] can improve its inclusion of differing political views. Those are important points. I also want to be clear that this is not about you expressing yourself on political issues or having political views that are different than others at the company. Having a different political view is absolutely fine. Advancing gender stereotypes is not.

This is a distinction without a difference. When a company like Google enforces a policy of “diversity” that effectively mandates hiring and promotion on the basis of race and gender quotas, almost any criticism of these policies — indeed, even acknowledging that such a quota regime is being enforced — is likely to become grounds for termination. It is nonsense to assert that expressing “a different political view” is permissible, while in practice prohibiting internal criticism of the company’s personnel policies, when these policies reflect a particular “political view,” i.e., radical egalitarian “social justice” ideology.

Here we see the heart of the problem exposed by James Damore’s memo which, when read in its entirety, is a careful critique of the make-believe games people must play for the sake of “diversity” and “inclusion.” Civilized people are also courteous people, and a Harvard-educated science major like James Damore would probably not be so rude as to speak bluntly about the kind of tokenism one observes in a workplace where management has become obsessed with “diversity.”
Damore’s memo begins with a bullet-point summary (“TL;DR”) the first point of which is this: “Google’s political bias has equated the freedom from offense with psychological safety, but shaming into silence is the antithesis of psychological safety.” In other words, opinions dissenting from the prevalent “social justice” ideology at Google were being silenced by “shaming” by employees who claimed to be offended by disagreement. This “political bias” could not be separated from Google’s personnel policy, given that the company (and Silicon Valley’s tech culture in general) was being targeted by claims of gender discrimination.

When a multi-billion-dollar company is under investigation by the federal Department of Labor for claims that it discriminates against women, management will be on high alert for any accusation of sexism in the workplace. This induces a climate of paranoia, which some female employees are likely to exploit for their own advantage, so that a woman can strike fear in the hearts of her male colleagues by the merest hint that she finds their words or behavior “offensive.” This leads to the kind of “shaming into a silence” that Damore sought to critique in his 2017 memo. Keep in mind that Damore wrote this less than a year after the election of Donald Trump, who had defeated Hillary Clinton in a campaign that highlighted issues of “gender equality.”

Given this background, it was almost impossibly difficult to distinguish between a Google employee’s (a) criticism of the company’s “diversity” emphasis in workplace policy and (b) his “political views.” Google’s policy was addressed in two bullet points from Damore’s summary:

  • “Differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don’t have 50% representation of women in tech and leadership.
  • “Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and bad for business.”

These points are relevant not only in terms of the discrimination complaints against Google, but also as a fundamental point of political controversy. No reasonably informed person could pretend that the federal government’s attitude toward discrimination complaints would be unaffected by whether Clinton or Trump was elected in 2016. So the question of why women are “under-represented” in technology firms like Google was both political and highly relevant to the company’s prospects. Damore’s memo suggests that Google, in response to discrimination claims, had implemented a policy of favoritism toward female employees as a means of achieving “equal representation” in its workforce. This policy was simultaneously (a) apparent to employees who paid attention to who was being hired and promoted within the company, and (b) off-limits to criticism. Because a person’s general political attitude might be considered a bellwether of support or opposition to the “diversity” regime at Google, any employee who wasn’t an enthusiastic cheerleader for “progressive” values in politics would predictably become the target of suspicion as a dissenter against the “diversity” policy. An employee with a Trump bumper sticker on his car would likely have zero chance of being promoted in such a climate.

Politics and policy have become tangled together in this way because the federal government has arrogated to itself the authority to dictate workplace policy in the name of “civil rights.” And as Damore said, when private-sector companies implement a de facto quota system for the sake of “diversity,” this is “bad for business,” because hiring and promotion are no longer strictly a matter of merit. When considerations of “diversity” cast doubt on whether the best person for the job is being hired, this sabotages employee morale and undermines the kind of trust necessary to effective teamwork. This was what the Damore memo highlighted in describing Google’s quota regime as “divisive.”

The reaction of Damore’s fellow Google employees is the clearest evidence of how “divisive” the workplace environment had become:

Several employees were apparently awarded “peer bonuses” for disparaging Damore’s views. A “peer bonus” is one of Google’s peer-to-peer recognition systems, through which employees recognize one another for exemplary work with small cash bonuses.
The lawsuit cites one such bonus, in which an employee named Matthew Sachs recognized a colleague named Simone Wu for “speaking up for googley values and promoting [diversity and inclusion] in the wretched hive of scum and villainy that is [Damore’s Memo].” The Google Recognition Team approved the bonus.

In other words, the company’s “googley values” include bullying anyone who dissents, like the Red Guards ganging up to denounce suspected deviationists during the Cultural Revolution in China.

The Cult of Social Justice

What happened at Google, I suggest, is that decades of (federally mandated) “diversity” policies in higher education have replicated, in workplaces where university education is a prerequisite for employment, the campus climate of intolerant political correctness. If you attended college where the office of Title IX enforcement was staffed by feminist ideologues, where campus life is regularly disturbed by protests and complaints of “discrimination” by black, Hispanic and Muslim student groups, and where the administrations incessantly voices its enthusiasm for LGBT “inclusion,” you are likely to be quite sensitive about such radical “social justice” beliefs. This explains why Damore, an alumnus of ultra-progressive Harvard, included numerous disclaimers disavowing discriminatory intent in his memo about Google’s “ideological echo chamber.” No young graduate of an elite university leaves campus without knowing that racism is the worst thing in the world, an unforgivable sin, and that the only things that are even remotely as evil as racism are sexism and homophobia. Because companies like Google are staffed almost exclusively by alumni of elite schools — the Ivy League, M.I.T., Stanford, Cal-Berkeley, etc. — the politically correct attitudes promulgated on campus are inevitably imported into the workplace. Thus, when Matthew Sachs (an alumnus of elite Brandeis University) praises “googly values,” these values are the same “social justice” dogmas that he internalized as part of his collegiate education, a set of beliefs held with quasi-religious certainly by most of his college-educated peers within the “ideological echo chamber” at Google. In December 2015, I described “The Cult of Social Justice” at elite schools:

It was claimed (in a Facebook post by [Yale University] sophomore Neema Githere) that a fraternity had held a “white girls only” party Oct. 31. Although this claim was evidently false, Yale students worked themselves into an emotional frenzy culminating in a Nov. 10 “March of Resilience.” One of the participants in that protest told the Yale Daily News that campus life is “emotionally draining and traumatic for many people of color.”
Emotional trauma is a common symptom among the young disciples of the Cult of Social Justice, occasionally inspiring them to proclaim visions of their own suffering that are either hallucinations or lies. At the University of Virginia, for example, a young woman claimed to have been gang-raped at a fraternity party; after her story made worldwide headlines in November 2014, however, an investigation found that the fraternity had not even held a party on the night in question, and it seems the alleged ringleader of the gang-rape, “Haven Monahan,” was a fictitious invention of the self-declared “survivor” of a crime that never happened.
The Cult of Social Justice requires occasional proof of its quasi-religious worldview, and if not enough genuine oppression can be found, the disciples are always willing to invent evidence of their victimhood. Students at Oberlin have proven remarkably creative in this regard. In 2013, the campus erupted in fury over graffiti and other alleged evidence of racism and homophobia that attracted nationwide media attention. (“Oberlin College Cancels Classes Amid String of Racial Incidents” was the headline at Slate.com, which illustrated the story with a photo of a Ku Klux Klan robe.) It turned out the whole thing was a hoax, and that the alleged “racial incidents” had been manufactured by “progressive” students, including a member of Oberlin College Democrats. Police quickly identified the perpetrators of the hoax and informed Oberlin officials, who “remained silent as the campus reacted as if the incidents were real.”

Young people who are educated within a system where manufactured “hate crimes” and imaginary offenses give rise to campus-wide protests do not discard this cult mentality after graduation. When more than 90% of university faculty are Democrats — on some campuses, the ratio is as high as 30-to-1 — progressivism becomes so hegemonic that “higher education” resembles a totalitarian indoctrination camp. Because Google is staffed by alumni of such schools, its workplace mirrors these attitudes — and some facts are regarded as “hate speech.”

When a federal official like NLRB member Jayme Sophir dismisses “Damore’s claims” about male-female differences as “sexual harassment,” she is condemning an accurate summary of scientific research. In other words, statements of fact are now justified as a firing offense!

Psychology professor Steve Stewart-Williams remarked on Twitter: “It’s legally permissible in the United States to fire someone for expressing a view broadly consistent with the scientific literature.” This is why conservatives are wrong to treat the prevalence of “social justice” on university campuses as a sort of joke, or to dismiss “political correctness” as something trivial and harmless. Real people are suffering real harm as a result of the increasingly totalitarian climate in higher education, which in recent decades has begun to replicate itself in the workplace, even at private-sector companies like Google. When the truth can be silenced as “harassment,” we are no longer living in a free society.

(Hat-tip: Charles Murray on Twitter.)



 

 

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