“Doublethink,” a term popularized in George Orwell’s 1984, is defined by Wikipedia as “the act of simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct, often in distinct social contexts.” (Two longer explanations of “doublespeak” from within 1984 can be found at the bottom of this article.)
Which brings us to the storm involving Google and freedom of thought that developed over the weekend.
First reported on by Motherboard Friday night, a male software engineer at Google wrote a a ten-page document which challenged the company’s ongoing “diversity” initiatives. The document, which was said to have gone “internally viral,” was titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” but it soon came to be referred to as “the Google Manifesto.” Gizmodo made the document available Saturday afternoon.
As reported by Gizmodo:
In the memo, which is the personal opinion of a male Google employee … the author argues that women are underrepresented in tech not because they face bias and discrimination in the workplace, but because of inherent psychological differences between men and women. “We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism,” he writes, going on to argue that Google’s educational programs for young women may be misguided.
The post comes as Google battles a wage discrimination investigation by the US Department of Labor, which has found that Google routinely pays women less than men in comparable roles.
Saturday evening, Google’s new Vice President of Diversity, Integrity & Governance, Danielle Brown (pictured immediately below), provided an official response to the document, which (inevitably) soon became publicly available via a Google worker passing it on to Motherboard.
That official response reads, in full:
I’m Danielle, Google’s brand new VP of Diversity, Integrity & Governance. I started just a couple of weeks ago, and I had hoped to take another week or so to get the lay of the land before introducing myself to you all. But given the heated debate we’ve seen over the past few days, I feel compelled to say a few words.
Many of you have read an internal document shared by someone in our engineering organization, expressing views on the natural abilities and characteristics of different genders, as well as whether one can speak freely of these things at Google. And like many of you, I found that it advanced incorrect assumptions about gender. I’m not going to link to it here as it’s not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages.
Diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of our values and the culture we continue to cultivate. We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company, and we’ll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul. As Ari Balogh said in his internal G+ post, “Building an open, inclusive environment is core to who we are, and the right thing to do. ‘Nuff said. “
Google has taken a strong stand on this issue, by releasing its demographic data and creating a company wide OKR on diversity and inclusion. Strong stands elicit strong reactions. Changing a culture is hard, and it’s often uncomfortable. But I firmly believe Google is doing the right thing, and that’s why I took this job.
Part of building an open, inclusive environment means fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions. But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws.
I’ve been in the industry for a long time, and I can tell you that I’ve never worked at a company that has so many platforms for employees to express themselves—TGIF, Memegen, internal G+, thousands of discussion groups. I know this conversation doesn’t end with my email today. I look forward to continuing to hear your thoughts as I settle in and meet with Googlers across the company.
According to someone gainfully employed who prefers to be described here as “an anonymous source speaking off the record based on the demands of liberals all across the country that everyone who agrees with certain propositions should be fired”: “It’s an important story because diversity is the official ideology of Corporate America. Liberals like to act as though big corporations are bastions of right-wing and Establishment thinking, but the fact of the matter is that every major corporation in America is practicing the Left’s thinking when it comes to affirmative action policies to promote diversity, effectively to discriminate against white males. ”
He continued: “And what we’re seeing now is a challenge to that, and it’s a subversive challenge to that because thousands of people across the country are calling for this person to lose his job for expressing his opinion. What’s happened is that, beginning with boycotts like they were doing with Chick-fil-A or whatever, the Left has been trying to force this omerta across the country that effectively criminalizes ideological disagreement… And we don’t do this to them.”
He additionally added: “I don’t know the identity of the person yet, but, from what I’ve seen that’s come out on the internet, the person has a Ph.D. in biology. So what we have here is a bunch of angry people with degrees in women’s studies screeching that this person doesn’t understand science when the person has a Ph.D. in biology.”
Predictably enough, this particular topic was fertile for right-of-center commentary on Twitter:
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) August 7, 2017
If someone’s job title is VP of Diversity, don’t expect that person to be open to dropping quota programs, which keep the VP employed.
— Lee Doren (@LDoren) August 7, 2017
“Diversity” and “Inclusion” are the subjective means to a rousseauean collective authoritarianism end.
— cindy wity (@WityCindy) August 7, 2017
— Christina Sommers (@CHSommers) August 7, 2017
“I intend to silence these views”
— S͞c͢rum҉p̨mo̡nk̢ey͏ (@SpicyScrump) August 7, 2017
— Supreme Dark Lord (@voxday) August 7, 2017
— Supreme Dark Lord (@voxday) August 7, 2017
— Mark J. Perry (@Mark_J_Perry) August 7, 2017
Maybe making people unemployable forever because you don’t like some of their opinions is not actually a progressive position to take
— Rockileaks (@notwokieleaks) August 7, 2017
Comment of the day:
Statistics and “facts” don’t determine oppression. It’s something you can choose to self-identify with 😂 pic.twitter.com/ywSGoQ2jDG
— Roaming Millennial (@RoamingMil) August 7, 2017
I’m looking to enter my postgraduate education in biology, and yet I have to fear for my professional career because I understand my field.
— M_Methuselah (@M_Methuselah) August 7, 2017
People are actually drawing comparisons between the Google memo & mass murder. pic.twitter.com/AwH6kyVPrT
— Claire Lehmann (@clairlemon) August 7, 2017
— Taewon Yoon (@TaewonYoon1) August 6, 2017
Google memo in the 1500s pic.twitter.com/m8RdHxKfIm
— Claire Lehmann (@clairlemon) August 7, 2017
In the regressive mind, free speech from right wingers is violence while violence from left-wingers is free speech
— (((Blaise))) (@blaiserbeam) August 5, 2017
Mighty ‘Stalin’ of Google.
Technology + Progressivism = 1984.
— Vincent The Patriot (@vrc5223) August 7, 2017
And on that last tweet’s 1984 note, here, as promised, are two places where Orwell describes “doublethink” at length:
In Part 1, Chapter 3:
To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself—that was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word—doublethink—involved the use of doublethink.
And in Part 2, Chapter 9:
The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them… To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies—all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.