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Fired Google engineer James Damore embraces prominent online bigots

The former Google employee who wrote a memo on his company's approach to diversity is not going away.

This Monday, Aug. 7, 2017, photo shows a Google sign at a store in Hialeah, Fla. CREDIT: AP Photo/Alan Diaz
This Monday, Aug. 7, 2017, photo shows a Google sign at a store in Hialeah, Fla. CREDIT: AP Photo/Alan Diaz

James Damore, the Google employee who was fired last week for a memo arguing that there shouldn’t be specific programs for underrepresented groups and that women are biologically inferior, has become a darling of the right.

Last week, a variety of conservative political voices defended Damore. Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) voiced their support of Damore. Brooks called on the CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, to resign, claiming that he “joined the mob” by firing Damore. The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf, who has often claimed that political correctness has run amok on college campuses, but says he is not say a “movement conservative,” wrote that “it seems to me that Google employees will remain as uncertain as ever about what they can and cannot say at the company.”

Since it goes beyond just conservatives and more politically moderate writers: Damore has also been embraced by white supremacists and publications associated with them. Wesearchr, a far-right site that crowdfunds a host of racist and sexist causes, raised $46,865 for financial and legal assistance for Damore as of Monday morning. Damore also interviewed with Stefan Molyneux, a YouTube personality who is known for his racist and sexist views. Molyneux has previously interviewed Paul Elam of a Voice for Men about “male disposability,” for example, and Richard Lynn, a psychology professor who told Molyneux that he believes that there are “several different races in the world and they all have different IQs.”

Mike Cernovich — a far-right writer and YouTube personality who supports IQ tests for immigrants, says one of his policy positions is “no white guilt allowed,” and appears to believe women can’t be raped on dates — also supported Damore. Damore asked Cernovich to tweet out his profile photo of him wearing a “Goolag” shirt, wordplay associating Google with Soviet forced-labor camps. In a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on Sunday, Damore addressed the tweet and wrote that he asked Cernovich to do so because of his number of Twitter followers, and he had “to admit ignorance about many of people’s past and political positions and that’s a weakness of mine.”

Damore also said he would like the support of several people who are vocal in their criticism of so-called “political correctness” or defend people who make similar comments on gender. This includes Jordan Peterson, Dave Rubin, and Steven Pinker, who wouldn’t be identified as far-right or even necessarily conservative but appear to represent Damore’s views well. University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson rails against what he calls “political correctness” and said that he would not respect requests from gender minority students that he use the correct pronouns. Dave Rubin had this to say in a YouTube video on feminism in 2015 promoting an interview with author and former philosophy professor Christina Hoff Sommers, in which he implied that feminists today want men to lose opportunities:

“And what happens when an equality movement actually accomplishes its goals? … I want the door to be open and the glass ceiling to be shattered. Winning these battles doesn’t have to come at the expense of men, nor does it mean that men suddenly become less than women but at the same time we should acknowledge that the sexes are different and that’s OK too … gender roles have existed long before any of us. Pretending there aren’t differences in the sexes won’t magically make it true. Perhaps we can try to embrace these differences rather than try to tack labels on everyone and say that one group’s equality can only come at the expense of another group’s opportunity.”

Damore retweeted evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker’s tweet on sex differences.

Pinker is referencing his sister’s 2008 book on gender, education, and the workplace. In 2008, Emily Bazelon reviewed Susan Pinker’s book for The New York Times and found that it downplayed cultural factors and discrimination for lack of opportunities for women. Bazelon wrote:

“She doesn’t acknowledge that some of the research cited in her footnotes is either highly questionable as social science (Louise Story’s 2005 article in The New York Times, for instance, about her survey of Ivy League women’s aspirations) or has never been replicated — like the findings from Simon Baron-Cohen’s laboratory that newborn girls showed more interest in looking at human faces, while newborn boys preferred mechanical mobiles. Pinker omits the work of scientists who have shown that sex-based brain differences pale in comparison to similarities.”

Despite Damore’s insistence that people engage in thoughtful dialogue, in his AMA, Damore mostly engaged with people who agreed with him. When asked whether he saw any valid criticism of his memo out of all of the national media coverage he has seen so far, Damore said, “I honestly haven’t seen any valid criticism that disputes my claims.”

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When asked about “the idea that minorities are subject to less stringent qualification barriers for jobs” and whether he experienced a trend of minority underperformance, Damore responded with “examples” but did not explain how that translated to less qualified applicants getting jobs at the company.

He said programs like Girls Who Code, a non-profit organization that reaches out to girls to teach them how to code, foster a “women are victims narrative.”

Damore’s behavior since being fired from Google prove that this wasn’t really about censorship in the workplace. It was about someone who genuinely believes that white people and men are being discriminated against through employers’ efforts to level the playing field for disadvantaged groups. It isn’t coincidental that many of Damore’s views have been embraced by the manosphere and YouTubers who are obsessed with race and IQ.