When James Damore was fired from Google over a multipage memo he wrote that claimed the pay gap isn’t real, and that women are biologically worse at technical jobs than men, he quickly became a cause célèbre among people for whom the value of free expression in the workplace trumps all other concerns. Damore did not, at first, appear to be a troll or a jerk; his memo was written in an aggressively reasonable tone and with all the right caveats (“I value diversity and inclusion,” it begins). From the pages of the New York Times, David Brooks even called for the resignation of Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
But his star began to fade. For a reasonable, logical kid who’d been caught up in the culture wars, Damore’s friends were awfully fringe. He chose to do his first public interview with alt-right YouTube personality Stefan Molyneux, and changed his Twitter avatar (his handle at the time: @Fired4Truth) to a portrait taken by a man called “the Annie Leibovitz of the alt-right.” By the time he compared being a conservative working at Google to “being gay in the 1950s,” he was no longer being touted by centrist pundits as a martyr to political correctness.
And now, today, I think we can finally say his moment is over. People had just stopped talking about him when Damore posted a Twitter poll about … the KKK. In it, Damore calls the KKK “horrible” and denounces them, but wants to discuss how “their internal title names are cool.”
Of the four answer choices, “yes” is currently in the lead. (The poll closes in three days.) This seems like an obvious bad-joke tweet, but Damore, never one to know when to stop talking, decided that it was part of a point he wanted to make about politics. The KKK, he went on, is a “moralized” issue because “you can’t criticize its heroes or acknowledge any positive aspect of its villains.” He also compared it to “teaching your child to be responsible about drugs and sex without addressing the fact that they can be fun.” Oh, and there was also this nugget about how people are being pushed into the KKK.
(Select All would like to formally pronounce our site a safe space to “acknowledge the coolness of D&D terms.” Here, you can talk about how you think wizards — exclusively wizards of the non-KKK variety — are cool.)
The point is not, of course, that these tweets have revealed James Damore as an incorrigible racist — it’s that they’ve revealed him to be impulsive, immature, self-destructive, and unable to keep quiet when he should. Which is the kind of behavior that tends to get people fired, much more than making “anti-P.C.” speech.