It’s hard to believe that it’s only been two weeks since news broke of an anti-diversity memo going internally viral over at Google. Since then, the memo’s author, James Damore, has been unmasked, fired by Google CEO Sundar Pichai for violating the company’s Code of Conduct, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, and done a few interviews. (His decision to sit down with alt-right YouTuber Stefan Molyneux as his first public interview is, uh, telling.) This week, Damore spoke with Business Insider to give another interview about his memo and the fallout since. And, folks, it went about as well as you’d expect. Or as well as you’d expect if you expected him to argue that being conservative at Google is a feeling similar to being a closeted homosexual back in the day. Which, given Damore’s history of bogus claims, we all probably should have expected.
Obviously, no one should feel attacked. I was simply trying to fix the culture in many ways. And really help a lot of people who are currently marginalized at Google by pointing out these huge biases that we have in this monolithic culture where anyone with a dissenting view can’t even express themselves. Really, it’s like being gay in the 1950s. These conservatives have to stay in the closet and have to mask who they really are. And that’s a huge problem because there’s open discrimination against anyone who comes out of the closet as a conservative.
Damore goes on to say some other stuff, too, arguing that his document was based on “empirical facts,” and not really addressing questions about how some of the scientists whose work he cites have gone on record saying Damore misinterpreted their work. He also says he feels like what he did “empowered” women at Google, and that “many” of his female colleagues agreed with him. It’s a whole lot. But let’s go back to that “like being gay in the 1950s” thing for a second. Damore’s argument that being conservative at Google is akin to being closeted is, in a few words, out of touch and wrong. For many queer people, staying closeted in 1950 would have been a matter of life or death. Sodomy laws — the first states to decriminalize same-sex intercourse wouldn’t do so until 1962 — were still very much a thing. (Also, his argument makes me wonder if James Damore has actually ever met, much less had a conversation with, an LGBTQIA-identifying person this side of 1950. Even with increased legal protections and rights, coming out of the closet remains life and death for many.) It seems highly unlikely that Google employees with conservative ideologies face that same level discrimination and danger. If they do, Sundar Pichai has a much bigger issue on his hands than one ex-employee spouting pseudoscience about women’s biological inferiorities.