Former Google engineer James Damore -- who was sacked amid fallout from a leaked internal memo he wrote criticizing the company's diversity policies and monolithic political culture -- has surfaced and given his first interviews since being let go. In a lengthy discussion with Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson, Damore escalated his negative assessments of his erstwhile employer. The exchange was published, ironically, on YouTube, a Google platform. Here's the full video, followed by a few portions of the transcripts provided by John Sexton:
He noted how unusual it was for Google's internal diversity workshops to be held in secret, and not recorded for posterity: "Most meetings at Google are recorded. Anyone at Google can watch it. We’re trying to be really open about everything, except for this. They don’t want any paper trail for any of these things," he said, suggesting that perhaps the company wasn't eager to keep a record of potentially discriminatory (or even illegal) practices. He went on to describe why he wrote the memo, also offering his reaction to getting fired:
Damore: I just wanted to clarify my thoughts on this. I really just wanted to be proven wrong because if what I was saying was right then something bad is happening. And so about a month ago I submitted it to feedback to that program. And you know I saw that people looked at it but no one actually said anything.
JBP: And what sort of feedback did you submit?
Damore: I basically said what I said in the document and then I linked to the document itself. So, I actually published this about a month ago and it was only after it got viral and leaked to the news that Google started caring...
JBP: Well what was their rationale for firing you exactly, what was the excuse that was given?
Damore: So the official excuse was that I was perpetuating gender stereotypes.
JBP: That you were perpetuating gender stereotypes.
JBP: And did they say anything else about your performance or about anything else that you had done.
Damore: No, that was the only reason.
Damore: It definitely sucks but at least I was proven right.
JBP: What do you mean by proven right?
Damore: Just that the whole culture just tries to silence any dissenting view and that we really need some more objective way of looking at these things.
Much of the rest of the conversation was devoted to poring over Damore's actual arguments, including relevant findings from social scientists. In a separate post, Sexton quotes from a Breitbart piece that interviews a handful of anonymous current and former Google employees who share Damore's view of the information giant's atmosphere of intolerant, hostile leftism: "Google is run like a religious cult," one says. "Conform and carry out the rituals, and you’ll be rewarded and praised; ask any uncomfortable questions or offend the wrong people, and the threats and public shaming will be swift and ruthless. The religion in this case is a kind of intersectional feminism, its central tenets are Diversity and Inclusion, its demonic enemy is Bias, and its purifying rituals include humiliating forms of “training” that resemble Maoist struggle sessions. This might sound crazy to a lot of your readers, but college students should understand, since it’s a similar culture.” Another recalls various instances of high-ranking managers belittling and attacking 'wrong thinking' team members, discussing black lists, playing the race card, and talking about creating rosters of people who "make diversity difficult." A current employee, also under the protection of a pseudonym, describes how an obsession with social justice is subsuming other core functions at the tech company:
A lot of social justice activists essentially spend all day fighting the culture war, and get nothing done. The company has made it a point to hire more people like this. The diversity gospel has been woven into nearly everything the company does, to the point where senior leaders focus on diversity first and technology second. The companywide “Google Insider” emails used to talk about cool new tech, but now they’re entirely about social justice initiatives. Likewise, the weekly all-hands “TGIF” meetings used to focus on tech, but now they’re split about 50/50 between tech and identity politics signaling...“I always fear for my job and operate with the expectation that I will be purged unless something changes.”
In my initial commentary on the Damore matter, I asked whether Google's internal intolerance might lead to external censorship. A Wall Street Journal editorial raised similar concerns. I'll leave you with this reminder of one highly suspicious episode involving a Google subsidiary's attempt to marginalize mainstream conservative viewpoints:
UPDATE: In a separate interview, Damore says he feels "hurt" and "betrayed" by a company he "loves," also affirming that he stands by what he wrote: