James Damore, who capitalized on his termination from Google to become a poster child for far-right “free speech activism,” received widespread criticism today after he published a Twitter poll asking his followers if they could “admit” that the Ku Klux Klan’s “internal title names are cool.” Damore’s poll demonstrates the normalization of hate that far-right groups are promoting and preserving under the guise of First Amendment activism.
Damore was fired from Google earlier this year for circulating an internal memo that harshly criticized diversity initiatives within the company and argued that women are biologically inferior to men, which resulted in a mess of bad press for Google. Since being fired by Google Damore has been treated as a martyr for free speech by so-called “anti-PC” activist and media figures including Tucker Carlson, Stefan Molyneux, Ben Shapiro, Jordan B. Peterson, Milo Yiannopoulos, Mike Cernovich and Gavin McInnes.
Today, Damore posted a tweet stating that he thought the term “Grand Wizard,” used to refer to high-ranking members within the KKK, was “cool” and asked his followers to respond to a poll to find out if they agreed. In subsequent tweets, Damore continued to deliver horrible defenses of the “coolness” of KKK titles:
Damore was swiftly mocked and criticized:
Your Refusal to Date Socially Inept KKK Sympathizers Whom Love Wizard Culture is Why Trump Won by James Damore
— REFORMED KRANG (@KrangTNelson) September 20, 2017
Remember all those essays a few years back about how literature and the humanities are a waste of students’ time and STEM is the future pic.twitter.com/G79r8suhDq
— Brendan O’Connor (@_grendan) September 20, 2017
wow, incredible. also hearing the KKK Grand Wizard gets to stay up as long as he wants and eat ice cream for breakfast
— 350 ship navy wanter (@thetomzone) September 20, 2017
Uber, but for continuing to dig yourself deeper into a hole. pic.twitter.com/Xec9JtlzMs
— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) September 20, 2017
this guy is 95% of the way to just saying “look, hitler had some good ideas and it’s simply objective to say as much” pic.twitter.com/HfvedmGPis
— Sam Biddle (@samfbiddle) September 20, 2017
because it demands it pic.twitter.com/uVQFVKmbdW
— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) September 20, 2017
In posting the poll and defending its legitimacy, Damore effectively demonstrated the unspoken objective of the far-Right’s crusade against an imaginary “politically correct” culture by exposing what they really seek to achieve: normalizing and re-branding hateful speech. A recent University of Kansas study found that people are much more likely to cite free speech to defend expressions with strong racist tones than they are statements that are not racially motivated.
At time of publication, new-right activist Ali Akbar was the only one of Damore’s cheerleaders to express (and then delete) explicit disapproval of Damore’s poll.
Update: Damore responded to the uproar over his poll, claiming that he originally posted the poll “to raise the issue of why some people are attracted to pure evil”: