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OPINION

The Cisco Kid

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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June 16, 2011

Mr. John Chambers
Office of the President
Cisco Systems, Inc.
Mail Stop SJC10/5/4
300 East Tasman Drive
San Jose, California 95134

Dear Mr. Chambers:

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I want to bring to your attention a recent decision made by your HR team that I think does not reflect your leadership of Cisco. Dr. Frank Turek was fired as a vendor for his political and religious views, even though those views were never mentioned or expressed during his work at Cisco.

By way of background, Dr. Turek is an eight-year veteran of the United States Navy. He and his wife have two sons serving in the United States Air Force. They defend our Constitutional rights and appreciated your personal support of Senator John McCain in the last general election.

Given your Republican leanings, I know you do not believe that free speech and religion rights vanish when one works with Cisco. I know that you do not believe that all political conservatives, Jews, Christians, Mormons and Muslims should be fired for their deeply held beliefs. But that is how the Cisco policy of “inclusion” was applied to Dr. Turek.

In 2008, Dr. Turek was hired by Cisco to design and conduct a leadership and teambuilding program for about fifty managers with your Remote Operations Services team. The program took about a year to conduct, during which he also conducted similar sessions for another business unit within Cisco. That training earned such high marks that in 2010 he was asked to design a similar program for about 200 managers within Global Technical Services. Ten separate eight-hour sessions were scheduled.

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The morning after completing the seventh session earlier this year, a manager in that session —who was one of the better students in that class—phoned in a complaint. It had nothing to do with content of the course or how it was conducted. In fact, the manager commented that the course was “excellent” as did most who participated. His complaint regarded Dr. Turek’s political and religious views that were never mentioned during class, but that the manager learned by “googling” Dr. Turek after class.

The manager identified himself as gay and was upset that Dr. Turek had written this book providing evidence that maintaining our current marriage laws would be best for the country. Although the manager didn’t read the book, he said that the author’s view was inconsistent with “Cisco values” and could not be tolerated. (Dr. Turek is aware of this because he was in the room when his call came in.) The manager then contacted an experienced HR professional at Cisco who had Dr. Turek fired that day without ever speaking to him. The HR professional also commended the manager for “outing” Dr. Turek.

This firing had nothing to do with course content—the program earned very high marks from participants. It had nothing to do with budget constraints—the original contract was paid in full recently. A man was fired simply because of his personal political and religious beliefs—beliefs that are undoubtedly shared by thousands of your very large and diverse workforce.

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I assume the intent of Cisco’s value of “inclusion and diversity” is to ensure that people in that diverse workforce will work together cordially and professionally even when they inevitably disagree on certain political, moral or religious questions. Please note that Dr. Turek agrees with that value and was demonstrating it. The manager and HR professional were not. Dr. Turek was being inclusive working with them. They were being exclusive by refusing to work with him, even though his viewpoint was never discussed during his work at Cisco. (Ironically, the people who say they are fighting for “tolerance” are often the most intolerant!).

I have a couple of important questions: First, what action would have been taken had Dr. Turek been a proponent of same-sex marriage but a conservative employee had complained? Second, given your support of Senator McCain, a same-sex marriage opponent, are you qualified to be working at Cisco?

My purpose in writing is simple: I am asking you to correct a policy of “inclusion” that is currently being applied as a policy of exclusion.

Dr. Turek has been excluded now from earning a living with your company. Moreover, he is concerned about the thousands of conservatives, religious and secular, who are employees of Cisco. He has spoken to several who live in constant fear that they will similarly be “outed” for their deeply held religious and/or political convictions. In my view, such totalitarian political correctness is immoral and un-American, and I doubt it engenders a climate of diversity and collaboration you so eloquently champion.

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I thank you for your attention to this matter and look forward to your prompt reply. I can be reached at adams_mike@hotmail.com. I intend to publish your response next week.

Respectfully,

Dr. Mike S. Adams

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