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Cisco Sinks to Dishonorable Low

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
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:

In my last letter to you, I pointed out the one-sided nature of a same-sex marriage forum led just last week by a Cisco Vice President on the campus of Cisco Systems. This despite the fact that your “Inclusion and diversity” officer, Ms. Marilyn Nagel, assured us that:

Our culture is very welcoming of all points of view. We don’t have any particular political perspective on the issues of same-sex marriage or any of the other issues.

I noted that one of the speakers at your one-sided “forum” was a gay activist who helped Holland become the first nation to legalize same-sex marriage. In my research, I also noticed that the Honorable Evan Low was a panelist on that one-sided “forum.”

At age 26, Mr. Low was among the youngest Mayors in the United States. As a gay man (your own website says) “he brought unique perspectives to the office” of mayor. He certainly brought a pro-same-sex marriage perspective. This link from the Cisco website shows more on his political crusade in favor of same-sex marriage. Pay special attention to the “Vote NO on Proposition Eight” picture at the bottom left of your screen. Would you consider that “divisive,” Mr. Chambers? Or does it simply depend on your perspective?

By now Cisco must certainly be prepared to admit that there was no one on the forum representing the other side of the issue. Don’t you think it’s odd that a forum ostensibly talking about “collaboration” on “conflicting points of view” would not collaborate but only offer one particular point of view?

So Cisco, which claims to take no position on same-sex marriage, invites in and pays gay politicians and gay activists to speak in favor of same-sex marriage. You do this in a “forum” held on the Cisco campus and led by a Cisco Vice President – a “collaboration forum”, which does not collaborate with a speaker from the other side of a politically divisive issue. And yet those who have spoken against same-sex marriage, off campus and not in any way representing Cisco, are fired.

Of course, I am talking about Dr. Frank Turek. And I am specifically calling you out on your company’s boastful assertions that Cisco is inclusive and diverse and doesn’t take sides on divisive political issues. And I am beginning to believe that I am talking to someone who has no interest in responding to reasonable inquires about matters of fundamental fairness.

Cisco’s real position is contradictory: We don’t sponsor a particular political perspective or even permit discussion of a divisive political topic such as same-sex marriage unless we choose to sponsor a forum that presents only one particular political perspective on a divisive political topic such as same same-sex marriage. So you’re not sponsoring it but you really are. Now, let us return to our conversation with your “inclusion” expert Marilyn Nagel.

I don’t think your position is in any way reflective of a position that’s not included in our dialogue. We have leaders who have every type of belief and we encourage that kind of diversity at Cisco.

That’s great to hear from Ms. Nagel. Now, please send me the link to any Cisco-sponsored “forum,” led by any Cisco Vice President, with the link to your website displaying “Vote YES on Proposition Eight!” pictures. After thoroughly searching I have yet to see such a thing on your website. I suppose it is possible that have you have already fired all the people who supported Proposition Eight. But I think it is more likely that your “inclusive and diverse” culture has intimidated them into remaining silent. Ms. Nagel also said:

We appreciate that people bring differences as long as they don’t make others feel unwelcome or act in a manner that’s disrespectful toward others, so I appreciate your feeling about this and your concern and I can only suggest that you take a look at some of the stuff that we put on our website.

Mr. Chambers, we’ve taken a look at your website. But we’re still looking for a little inclusion and we’re still craving a little diversity. Dr. Turek’s firing certainly did not sprout from the soil of true inclusion and diversity. Your shareholders and fair-minded Americans await your response: We are simply tired of being excluded from the dialogue by experts waving the multi-colored banner of inclusion and diversity. In the meantime, my readers may choose to contact you here.

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