The culture wars are at a fever pitch already, and the latest front to explode is in Mountain View. If you’re not caught up already, I suggest you read the memo first, then imagine what you think the reaction will be, then mosey your way back here after possibly skimming through the comments for a brief sampling. I’ll wait.
The fact that it’s exactly what you expected is the real problem here. The memo’s author slays the sacred cows of sex, race, political orientation, and **shudder** IQ. It’s a four-alarm thoughtcrime, all hands on deck!
Let’s get something out of the way so the real conversation can take place. If I were in a position to do so, I would immediately fire the individual. Hey, I’m sympathetic, but I don’t want the headache, and no competent manager would either. I understand some of you might disagree with such an action, but let’s be real, you’re wrong, it’s the only responsible one to take. It sure is a sad state of affairs, though, that a company must feel so cowed by the mob that it would sacrifice a (presumably) capable and intelligent employee.
Now let’s talk about the merits of the memo. The author makes a number of quite cogent points, seems to take great pains to emphasize the limits of his arguments, and offers constructive suggestions on how to resolve what he or she sees as a very serious problem. At least that’s how I read it, and I would certainly give the benefit of the doubt to any of my employees.
Now, many who have come to the author’s defense make quick pains to say how they disagree with what he has to say, and I suppose I too have some things I disagree with, or at least maybe think should have been considered further or better characterized. Sure, let’s hash it out, let’s talk about this stuff. Seriously, I’d love to have a conversation in the comments below about some of the issues the author raises–to what extent the stereotypes of men and women are true, whether most corporate diversity policies are counterproductive or unfair, the relevance of IQ, the current distribution of engineering talent, or the role of empathy in the workplace.
But no, the most serious issue here is the fact that we can’t even have an honest conversation about any of these topics. At least that’s what elite attitudes (vogue term: “woke”) are suggesting. The memo was immediately and totally condemned, even by the author’s own new head of diversity or some sh**. No room is allowed for any discussion whatsoever. Those who offer such wrongthink must be shunned and mocked publicly, and all must signal their agreement with such condemnation.
But the thing is, these are really important issues. How on earth is it a good idea to suppress dissenting opinions and avoid a hint of critical examination of them? Moreover, doesn’t such suppression allow truly disgusting ideas to fester? Frankly, much of this is uncontroversial until recently, such as the idea that men and women are different. And one need not look further than this other story that popped up today to know it is true.
But our diversity commissars have stated that men and women are completely the same, so it must be true and therefore cannot be questioned. This is the rhetorical equivalent of sticking one’s fingers in one’s ears and shouting “LALALALALALA”. Sorry kid, the issue isn’t going away.
And it’s really, really sad that American life has come to this. Frankly, this is something I’m really struggling with, that I can’t even have honest conversations about differences and openly discuss possibilities that could help us arrive at the best solution or policy. I do notice myself self-censoring more and more if I know someone of a certain political persuasion is around.
The optimist in me tells me this is a passing trend, and the pendulum will swing back as the wave crests and the ground settles a little (or something like that). But the realist in me suggests that it’s not a pendulum, but a ratchet. We were always warned that democratic society is a fragile thing, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that we are descending into authoritarianism and mob rule.