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Down the Rabbit Hole of Political Intolerance in Silicon Valley

Editor’s note: Blake J. Harris is the bestselling author of Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation, which is currently being adapted for television by Legendary Entertainment, producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and Scott Rudin. His second book, The History of The Future—which was published on February 19—chronicles the dramatic, larger-than-life true story behind the founding of Oculus, and its quest for virtual reality, and the company’s $3 billion acquisition by Facebook. What follows is an interview with Harris conducted by Quillette’s Clay Routledge. 


Clay Routledge:
I just finished your latest book, The History of the Future. And I have to tell you, I tore through it. Such a fascinating story in so many ways. What made you interested in telling the story of Oculus VR and its founder, Palmer Luckey?

Blake J. Harris: So back in 2014, my first book was published. This was a big, life-changing experience for me. Prior to that—for the previous eight years—I had been a commodities broker, buying and selling things like sugar, coffee and soybeans for Brazilian clients. But with the publication of Console Wars, I was able to quit that job and follow my dream (mostly I mean “writing”, but a little part of me also means “never wearing pants” #ShortsForLife). Anyway, as I was saying, Console Wars was life-changing for me; and one of the cool things that happened early on was that Popular Mechanics decided to write a feature about me. Needless to say, this was a VERY big deal in the Harris family. And so when the issue came out—on Mother’s Day 2014—I slipped away from our family brunch to go pick up a copy of the issue from a nearby bodega, feeling so excited; my big moment! Except instead of flipping through the magazine and checking out the piece about me, I was captivated by the person on the cover: a 21-year-old-kid wearing a virtual reality headset—and the story about his VR startup. I took it as a good sign that by the time I got back to our family brunch all I could talk about was what I’d read about this kid (Palmer Luckey) and his incredible company (Oculus). 

From there, it took me nearly two years to get the access I would need to accurately and authentically tell this story, and then it took over three years to actually research and write the book (especially because—as I’m sure we’ll get to—the, uh, “unexpected twist”).

Blake Harris

CR: I also really enjoyed your last book, Console Wars, which was about the Nintendo vs. Sega fight for video game dominance in the 90s. Both Console Wars and The History of the Future take place in the tech and gaming world. But to me, the more interesting theme that connects these books is what I view as stories of underdogs who found improbable success. Do you agree or have any thoughts on that observation?

BH: For me, for any writing I do, the ideal reader that I think about when I write is my grandmother. Because basically what I want to challenge myself to do is to tell these tech/gaming stories in an ultra-accessible way so that someone without knowledge of these topics (Sega, Nintendo, Virtual Reality, etc.) could still enjoy them. And the key to that, I think, is by focusing on the characters, their ideas, and universal themes—to lay out Console Wars as a story about a father-of-three vacationing in Hawaii who gets approached with a surprising job offer; and to set up The History of the Future as a modern day “American Dream” story about an inventor who wants to start a company to sell his thing.

I suppose all of that is a long-winded way of saying: you’re totally right! I don’t think that with either I ever thought to myself “I need to find a good underdog story” but your observation is a good one in that an underdog tale sort of inherently solves my writing-for-grandma-problem. And I think the other thing—the reason I’m particularly drawn to underdog stories—is because each of these books took me 3-4 years to write; that’s a lot of time spent with these characters and these companies, and (on a personal level) I think the uplifting and inspirational nature of these types of stories is partly necessary to keep me energized for these long hauls in storytelling.

CR: In the span of a few years, Oculus went from something teenage Palmer Luckey was working on in a trailer in his parents’ driveway to a company that was purchased for billions of dollars by Facebook. The book has a lot of amazing details, including emails and other documents, regarding discussions and decisions within Oculus and with other tech companies, even Facebook. How did you gain so much access?

BH: As I mentioned above, access for me is critical. I want readers to feel like they’re in the room with these people—in their minds, oftentimes—and the only way to properly do that is with a lot of access to those that I’m writing about.

This book was based on hundreds of interviews and reviewing over 25,000 internal documents and—to your point—I frequently included actual archival emails, so I thought it might be fitting to do so here. In particular, this is an email that I’ve never before shared from August 2014: Palmer’s initial response to my seeking access for a book about Oculus.

From: Palmer Luckey
To: Blake Harris
Date: August 17, 2014

Sorry for not getting back to you till now, lots of people reaching out on your behalf, so you must be serious. 🙂

Great job on Console Wars, it was a compelling read.Several other fans at Oculus.

As you can probably imagine, there have been a lot of people interested in writing about Oculus, but so far, we have turned everyone down.Same thing goes for documentary requests – time will tell if Oculus is really worth writing about, we have a long road ahead.Going from a trendy niche game dev toy to mass market consumer product is going to be tough, the gut feeling of most people on the team is that working closely with someone on a book/movie/etc would seem arrogant this early on.What are your thoughts?

Best,
Palmer

Having never spoken with Palmer before, I was a bit struck by how mature his reasoning seemed to be.

CR: Much of the book is about how Oculus came to be as well as how they energized a broader virtual reality movement. It is very inspirational. However, the latter part of the book takes a darker turn in which a series of events ultimately lead to the founder of Oculus, Palmer Luckey, getting fired by Facebook. Can you describe what happened?

BH: So I should begin by saying that Palmer has been a long-time supporter of Donald Trump’s political aspirations. Not just in 2016, but way back in March 2011, he posted the following on his Facebook page: “So, Donald Trump says he is seriously considering running for president in 2012, since he does not think anyone else can save America. He says he will make his final decision by June. I am thinking this might be pretty awesome.”

I’ll note here—for those who care about such things—that I’m a lifelong liberal (I actually grew up in the town where the Clintons now live) and, unsurprisingly, I’m no fan of Donald Trump. But even so, I strongly believe that EVERYONE should have the right to support whichever candidate they chose; and, well, let’s just say that was not the case at Facebook.

To answer your question, here’s a quick recap of what happened: in September 2016, Palmer donated about $10k to a pro-Trump organization called Nimble America whose mission was to “Develop and advocate for legislation, regulations, and government programs to promote America first, improve legal immigration, fight corruption and stimulate the economy” and, to accomplish this mission, planned to put up snappy, meme-like billboards in swing states.

On September 13, Nimble America filed the paperwork to officially become a 501(c)(4) organization (which was a designation for nonprofits dedicated to “promoting social welfare.”). Nine days later—on September 22—The Daily Beast published an article with the following headline: “The Facebook Billionaire Secretly Funding Trump’s Meme Machine: Palmer Luckey—founder of Oculus—is funding a Trump group that circulates dirty memes about Hillary Clinton.”

Fifteen minutes after The Daily Beast article went live, a prominent tech blogger named Anil Dash who—according to his website—has been cited in “hundreds of academic papers” and “sources ranging from the New York Times to the BBC” posted the following two tweets to his 590,000 followers on Twitter:

Obviously—to anyone who did a cursory investigation into Nimble America—this was not true. But it made for a juicy story that sounded maybe-sorta-kinda-true and, over the course of the next 24 hours, hundreds of articles like these: “How Your Oculus Rift is Secretly Funding Donald Trump’s Racist Meme Wars” (Ars Technica) “What Does Alt-Right Patron Palmer Luckey Believe?” (Motherboard) and “Palmer Luckey is the Worst, But He Doesn’t Reflect Silicon Valley” (WIRED).

Naturally, in this face of this insanity, Palmer Luckey drafted a public statement to clarify what was true, what was false, and who he planned to vote for in 2016. But unfortunately, this statement (particularly any mention of supporting Trump) was deemed unacceptable by Facebook. So much so that Mark Zuckerberg himself ended up drafting a statement that Luckey would need to publish if he wanted to keep his job—a statement that professed Luckey would be voting for…Gary Johnson.

CR: What appeared to have happened to Palmer Luckey is a story we are seeing more and more. A person has some unpopular views or political affiliations and he or she is smeared, ostracized, and often fired. People complain about the lack of tolerance and viewpoint diversity in academia, but I am also increasingly hearing such complaints about the tech world. When working on the book, did you get a sense that these are growing problems in tech or other types of companies?

BH: Absolutely. As I said above, I spent several years on this book, and that’s largely because the final two were spent going down this rabbit hole of political intolerance in Silicon Valley. The deeper I delved into this topic and the more people I spoke with, it became very clear to me that what happened with Palmer—from the inaccurate reporting, to the online mob, to the professional discrimination—was not an isolated instance; in fact, part of the reason I focused so heavily on this was because his situation seemed to so perfectly personify Life Circa 2016. And the other reason I focused so heavily on this was because Facebook is one of the most powerful companies in the world—a company built on an ethos of “openness” and transparency”; who literally hangs up posters on campus with the slogans “Always Assume Positive Intent” and “Bring Your Authentic Self to Work”—and, well, given that Facebook has ambitions of owning virtual reality, I think their actions in actual reality are incredibly important to assess and evaluate.

To this point, I’ll end with a passage from Chapter 45 in the book…

After the election, the majority of Facebook employees appeared to feel some combination of shocked, devastated, and/or horrified. This cocktail of emotions seemed to crystalize in the creation of a quickly popular internal Facebook group called “Refocusing Our Mission.” As per the page’s introductory message—“The results of the 2016 Election show that Facebook has failed in its mission”—the conceit of this group was that Trump’s victory was some sort of proof that Facebook needed to change its ways.

Although it’s natural to empathize with the frustration that those joining this group must have felt, a handful of Facebook employees— people from both sides of the political spectrum—felt that something was very unnatural, creepy even, about seeing the election results as proof that Facebook had somehow failed. Because, frankly, it provided a pretty ugly answer to the question people continued to ask more and more: What is Facebook? Well, according to the founder of “Refocusing Our Mission” and the hundreds of employees who quickly joined and engaged, Facebook was basically some sort of social engineering tool—an invisible hand meant to guide its users toward the “correct” political beliefs.

Or to put it another way: since Zuckerberg often described Face- book as “like a utility,” then this reaction was the equivalent of AT&T declaring that Mondale losing to Reagan meant it was time for them to rethink the mission of this whole phone line network thing.

 

Blake J. Harris is the author of Console Wars and The History of The FutureYou can follow him on Twitter @blakejharrisnyc and read more of his work at blakejharris.com.

Clay Routledge is a Quillette columnist and professor of psychology at North Dakota State University. You can follow him on Twitter @clayroutledge.

86 Comments

  1. Princess Underlove says

    To all this doom and gloom about Facebook and politics I just say: so what?

    Nobody has an obligation to accommodate racists, on the contrary, I would argue everyone has a duty to shun racists and make it very clear that their ideas are unacceptable in a civilized world. Facebook clearly understood that this as the mission they failed at, because they unwittingly allowed foreign interests to tamper with the elections and put a literal neo-nazi in Office.

    I can’t help but chuckle at the paranoid conspiracies that conservatives come up with to try to explain away why so many good people are rightfully calling them racists and kicking them out of positions where they can act on their racism to hurt others. Oh it can’t be because I’m a literal garbage human! Oh no! It must be the evil (((SJWs))) who are treating me unfairly! Well, I have news for you: you are an overgrown child throwing a tantrum because the world is heading towards progress despite your protestations and there is nothing you can do to stop it, no matter how much you cry, women will be considered people too, LGBT+ will have rights, white supremacy will be smashed, and there is nothing you can do to stop progress, so keep crying baby boy, it’s all music to my ears because the whining of reactionaries can only mean that we are doing something right.

    • Walter says

      blink

      Trump is a neo nazi? But I thought that, hmm, let me check, yeah, it looks like when he visited Israel they renamed a football team after him. Maybe the Washington Post is fake news?

      I’m sure your worldview allows for Nazis simultaneously so secret that they fool the man on the street in Jerusalem, but so obvious that you expect us to know about them, but if you could walk through how that works for the rest of us I’d really appreciate it.

      • Elton H says

        Yeah. We have a neo-Nazi president with a Jewish son-in-law, a daughter who converted to Judaism, Jewish cabinet members, Hindi Indian-American ambassador to the UN, black and Asian cabinet members.

        The term “Nazi” gets throw around so much that people don’t know what it really means. A quick Google search will return the following definition in 0.48 seconds:

        “a member of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party.”

        • Princess Underlove says

          @Elton H

          I’m tired of this site disappearing my replies to Walter where I point to the “friend argument”, so I’ll just reply to you instead telling you to look that up and see if this time my comment goes through.

          It doesn’t matter how many Jewish buddies Trump has, he has been coddling the Alt-right and he explicitly refused to condemn them after they literally murdered a woman in Charlottesville, so no amount of “Jewish friends” will make that go away.

          • Cinncinatus Californicus says

            @Princess,
            In Charlottesville, there were alt-right thugs, and there were also people who disagreed with them but disagreed with pulling down Confederate monuments as a form of Political Correctness signalling with permanent implications as well. Similarly, there were a small number of Antifa thugs on the left side, along with many more people who were not Antifa but were generally left of center. I would not dare to color everyone on the left with the brush provided by a small number of Antifa thugs, why would you choose to paint everyone right of center with the brush of a small number of Proud Boys?

            When the President said “there were good people on both sides”, this is the most obvious interpretation, even to someone like me who did not vote for him. I think that condemning the crazies of both sides is something that more of us in the center should be doing. Sometimes there will be more right-wing crazies, sometimes there will be more left wingers, but crazies of whatever stripe are a threat to us all. Sadly, your “only see the other side as having crazies” position is exactly the kind of “see-no-evil-from-my-side” environment in which crazies do best.

            For the sake of us all, stop trying to score points; stop fanning the flames that only the crazies love and help us put out the fire before it consumes us all.

      • Bad try. Roughly half the people in the United States do not agree with you get out of your bubble. You are allowed your personal opinion but society as a whole has not come close to deciding unanimously that trump is a nazi and many reasonable, good people support him for a myriad of reasons. I thought obama was a radical with more then a tinge of anti white bias but if i owned a company I wouldn’t pressure or fire someone for supporting him these things are debatable and not black or white.

    • Cluebat says

      Your definition of progress includes the manufacture of an ignorant underclass which has no idea what socialism is, but reflexively recognizes the inherent and irredeemable evil of capitalism.
      No thanks. This is why parents are keen about alternative education.

      • Princess Underlove says

        @Cluebat

        lolwut, what is this nonsensical blabber even supposed to mean? Who even brought socialism into this?

        Your paranoid delusions are making you jump the gun. Don’t worry little boy, I’m sure there are no socialists hiding under your bed at night, sleep tight.

    • Blue Lobster says

      Princess,

      Agreed! Facebook is totally boring and lame…or at least I imagine that it is. I don’t touch the stuff, myself. And politics…don’t even get me started! Only the biggest lowlife, pieces of 5h!t get involved in politics!

      So, what? Indeed.

    • “It’s usually futile to try to talk facts and analysis To people who are enjoying A sense of moral superiority in their ignorance”.

      Thomas Sowell

      • Princess Underlove says

        @lydia00

        Oh what’s that? You gonna own the libtards with FACTS and LOGIC? You know what would actually help with that? Having anything resembling facts in your comment, instead of lazily quoting some conservative guy about why you shouldn’t listen to progressives.

        • Sue says

          @princessunderlove

          “….why you shouldn’t listen to progressives.”

          Perhaps one might choose not to listen to this particular progressive who calls a fair portion of the population “garbage humans”

    • Most people (apart from extreme libertarians) agree that there are some views that have no place in society and deserve to be shunned. However, there is no way to define the location of these views precisely; it requires the application of judgment. Progressives have taken this fact and redefined “unacceptable” to mean “anything they disagree with” while liberally sprinkling their accusations with much stronger terms (racists, nazis) that people generally agree are unacceptable.

      This way of “arguing” is sufficient, apparently, to allow some progressives to continue to be completely intolerant and still assuage their consciences that they are doing the right thing. Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for the rest of us, their message is inherently unpalatable to most Americans and has resulted in a mass revolt against the Left by people, including many former leftists, who see them for what they are. I’d rather have a sensible debate between left-wing and right-wing viewpoints, but if leftists are willing to drive their movement over a cliff, I’m not going to stand in their way.

    • Peter Kriens says

      @Princess I always wonder what the purpose of such a mail is. Do you feel better after you’ve scolded some people? Glad to be of service in that case. However, your response feels tense and radiates a certain feeling of uncertainty that makes you want to shout so loud you can’t feel it anymore. By trying to make a caricature of the Quillette you seem to only have succeed to paint a caricature of yourself.

      I find that a pity because I always appreciate a well reasoned discourse with people that have different ideas. However, you seem to be not interested in an exchange of ideas because you seem to already know people here are thinking. I think Trump is a really bad president but he is not a neo Nazi. I’ve not heard anyone here doubt human rights. And I’ve not see any mail as tantrum like as yours.

      The big question this article raises is if a large commercial corporation is responsible for elections? I find that a scary idea because power concentrated in few hands corrupts. Although you might agree with them today, where is your backup when their ideas turn against you? As they always inevitable do. How can you give a power to such a company and then deny to a democratically elected president? One day the situation might be reversed, where would you stand then?

      I think those are the worries that many people on this list are concerned about. The far majority I read to want people to pursue what they find meaningful and like to do the same thing. It is not pushing women back to the home or LGBT+ back into the closet, it is not use the societal forces to create a unified world view of what is good and bad.

      You spent the time to write this missive, why then not engage with the discussion?

      • Princess Underlove says

        @Peter Kriens

        Why I don’t engage in the discussion? Ask your friends here why they always seem more interested in getting offended than responding to my points. Every time I comment people start saying that I’m a troll and start crying that I’m being mean, always without addressing anything I’ve said. It seems to me that conservatives are just projecting when they whine about “special snowflakes”, y’all sure are eager to get offended instead of having your precious “discussions”.

        And don’t you tone police me with your condescending tripe. If your oh-so-intellectual pursuits are so undeniably logical and factual, you wouldn’t constantly ignore the points in order to whine about the tone.

        The “big question” as you put it has a very simple answer: always stand against racists no matter where they are. Is it a big corporate entity against the racism of the government? Fine, I’ll take it, and if the roles were reversed I would side with the anti-racist government in that case. See? There is nothing complicated about not being a racist, why is this so hard for conservatives to understand?

        • I don’t know, why has the regressive left decided that people should be judged on their skin colour? That’s clearly racist yet instead of admitting to it and stopping they create elaborate rationalizations about why it doesn’t count when they do it. Apparently the world is more complex than you like to believe.

        • Matthew C. says

          @Princess Underlove

          You seem to be really, really obsessed with racism.

          Is having biological children in order to replicate your own genes as opposed to replicating somebody else’s genes (I believe it’s called cuckoldry) taboo yet?

          I believe the answer to this question is necessary in order to determine whether we are still talking about the desired goal being woke extremist metropolitan leftism or the regular bolshevism.

        • Perhaps they all get worked up because you invite it with your hostile tone. You are quite clearly aiming to provoke, as your words emanate distaste and hatred for this site and its readers. If your goal is not to discuss or debate, then why comment at all? You are obviously hoping to get a reaction (triggering those cuckservatives!), so why are you surprised when you get them?

          “The “big question” as you put it has a very simple answer: always stand against racists no matter where they are.”

          I’m afraid it is not as easy as that. You have certain goals you would like society to progress towards, and do not care how it gets there. This is why you support Facebook, but as soon as it is expedient to do so, you would turn your back on them. Most commenters on Quillette are not just concerned with achieving their goals in society (as you are), but by doing it in a moral and even-handed manner. If you openly disregard the law and abstain from putting restrictions on Facebook or any Silicon Valley tech company for that matter, what happens when these tech companies can control everything we see, and then believe as a consequence?

          Right now, since Facebook is aligned with your views you do not care, but what if they happen to push a neo-nazi agenda some time in the future? To assume their views will be static is quite the gamble, doesn’t it seem reasonable to put restrictions on these companies to allow all viewpoints a chance to be heard–even those you don’t agree with? If this does not occur then society will be governed by mob justice, whatever the majority thinks is what we all must think. I bet the censors in silicon valley and the government would be happy to oblige. This causes a tyranny of the majority, which is why we have checks and balances and laws in place to impede this phenomenon from occurring. (The Founding Fathers were quite smart, as a matter of fact. Although they were against the religious and monarchical zealots of their day, their checks and balances now work against zealotry of all types. Nowadays however, the zealotry seems to come from social justice activists.)

          I think we can agree that there are certain things we would not stoop to in order to achieve our goals, correct? For example, I doubt you would think it is it just to kill thousands of people if it meant you could enact one of your preferred social policies. Death may be an inhibitor in this instance, but those at Quillette see the rule of law and it’s logic as an inhibitor on their actions. Even if they don’t agree with someone, it is not just to kill them or even silence them, we must follow the rules and laws in place to deal with them so everyone is treated fairly, not just those with similar views. We can, of course, add more laws or attempt to remove laws if they seem unjust according to universal reason, which would be the case if they can be disproportionately applied to people based solely on their views.

          If the government or Facebook attempted to censor your opinions, those at Quillette would just as much stand by your side as they do conservatives today, lest they apply their universal logic disproportionately.

        • Anon says

          “Being a racist” actually is very complicated, so complicated that it has become a meaningless charge and term. There was a time when it meant being a person who advocates for the supremacy of any race, or professes the inferiority of any race. Under that definition it is the people who bleat about racism today who are the racists, with their anti-white rhetoric. But these same people use the word to color any criticism of anything and defame those who disagree. So perhaps when one of my peers uses the term it is simple and I know what it means, but when an idiot uses it I have no idea.

          In reality (not virtual) President Trump is not a racist, nor Nazi, nor anything of the kind. That won’t stop his political opposition from using the terms as invective. It’s just very weak invective, and the bored reaction of his supporters is not indifference toward racism, but indifference toward your weak invective. So try harder. If you cited the real reasons why you oppose President Trump you could potentially have an argument worth listening to, but short of that, no, you get dismissed.

    • Jujucat says

      Princess Underlove again! Good work! I started reading your comments prior to looking at your name and you almost got me!

    • Leaving aside the question of whether Trump is a racist, I would argue that shunning racists is a moral failure. Is this what the Dalai Lama would do, for example? No.

      Empathize and compassionately attempt to convince. Be open to the possibility that what you believe may be wrong.

    • Alan Gore says

      “Racism,” like “rape” is a word that although it has a specific traditional definition you people have reinterpreted beyond all recognition. I stopped listening to the social justice rabble the moment they started claiming that only white people could be racist and that a bad date could be claimed as rape.

    • As usual you miss the point. In a free society you don’t stop people using phones or banks because they have the wrong views. Yet tech onpanied think they have the right to dictate others discourse. That is inherently authoritarian, and to anyone not painfully ignorant of history, an open invitation to paint your political enemies as morally repugnant and thus able to be outright persecuted rather than simply disagreed with.

    • Denny Sinnoh says

      I’ve learned to just skip over this persons name in the comments section, as I have found that ze has no argument to make and nothing interesting to say, and gives false information. .

      • George G says

        @ Denny Sinnoh

        second that. Princess Underlove has a right to speak, none of us are obligated to listen to this broken record troll. Fair play to those willing to engage but I think your pissing into wind.

    • Peter Schaeffer says

      PU, I saw a picture of Bill Clinton sitting next to Louis Farrakhan. I guess the Democrats have embraced Nazism. A few quotes should help you.

      “White folks are going down. And Satan is going down. And Farrakhan, by God’s grace, has pulled the cover off of that Satanic Jew and I’m here to say your time is up, your world is through”.
      “Hitler was a very great man”
      “Don’t you forget, when it’s God who puts you in the ovens, it’s forever.”

      Farrakhan isn’t an elected Democrat (but Bill Clinton was). Of course, you also have Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. A few quotes/tweets.

      “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”
      “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,”
      “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country,”

      I guess antisemitism, racism, even overt Nazism is OK if you are sufficiently PC.

      • Stephanie says

        Peter, it was quite clever of the SJWs to overuse the word “Nazi” to the point of irrelevance while embracing the people that promulgate the closest modern equivalent to Nazi ideology.

    • Saw file says

      @Prince Underwear
      Could you plz define: “racists”; oh, and FO, with you troll dribble..

    • Northern Observer says

      Except the perpetually offended “victimised” can’t measure, judge or see properly. A Nazi? A Racist? A Bigot? A Hate Group? Hate Speech? How can you trust yourself to make these kinds of evaluations? How can you trust a corporation to do the same? Don’t you get a wee bit suspecious when the rulings all fall one way, like dirty dice at a craps table that always hit seven, the judgement of those who know always seems to flatter their biases and their interests. Can’t you see the self deception that is going on here, the self hypnosis of righteousness, the we know good and evil schtick, how can you live yourself, condeming people to unlimited social suffering, unemployment and ruin for the satisfaction of your feelings? what kind of a monster are you, oh yeah that’s right, the kind that thinks that everything he thinks and does is for the good. Bloody sociopath.

    • peanut gallery says

      I don’t think you know what racism is. Or maybe you’re a Russian bot.

    • Y C says

      The crying of the Jewish communities in the 1930 just meant the nazis were doing something right

    • TheHotFinger says

      You Princess are case in point, and emblematic of precisely the problem. Your description of “conservatives” contains so many canards, straw men, and unfounded stereotypes it makes the head spin. The sheer level of self righteousness and sanctimonious superiority on display is frightening quite frankly. You ought to know you are not nearly as mature or intelligent as you think you are, and possess no greater moral imperative than anyone else that would give you license to abrogate the legitimacy of people you disagree with.

    • Joe says

      “literal neo-nazi”

      “paranoid conspiracies”

      You are mentally ill.

    • Terry Cutter says

      And you no doubt would quickly label anyone who did not agree with you a racist. You are the perfect example of a person who is intellectually lazy and most comfortable being a member of a mob

    • Locketopus says

      Nobody has an obligation to accommodate racists

      Nobody has an obligation to accommodate communists, either.

      We’ll see how your tune changes when that starts happening.

      literal neo-nazi

      Oh, give it a rest.

      If Trump were a “literal neo-nazi” you wouldn’t be yammering on the Internet. You’d be in a death camp.

  2. Craig says

    Princess Underlove: Nobody has an obligation to accommodate racists, on the contrary, I would argue everyone has a duty to shun racists and make it very clear that their ideas are unacceptable in a civilized world.

    That’s another way of saying nobody has an obligation to be tolerant. Which is fine. As long as you are clear with yourself and everyone else that you are an extremely narrow-minded and intolerant person. However, it is NOT fine if you style yourself a champion of diversity and inclusiveness.

    • Princess Underlove says

      “Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.” – Karl Popper

      The tolerance paradox is well-threaded ground, it’s quite pathetic that conservatives always go back to the same tired old BS to defend their racism, but I suppose that being closed to new ideas is what defines a conservative so no wonder they can’t think beyond their ancient dogma.

      • Diana Ayala says

        Princess,
        I am a Hispanic immigrant (legal). I like Trump and his policies. I think he is not very presidential and needs to stop tweeting, but he’s honest. I don’t care if someone. if someone doesn’t like me because I’m Honduran, that’s their right. As long as legislation isn’t being enacted to hurt me because of race, gender, or the fact that I lean conservative, then I really don’t care what someone thinks of me. The only group now socially acceptable to bash and denigrate are white males. I went to school in the “boonies” of Arkansas. Met the kindest people there- you always know where you stand. Unlike white liberals, who discard me as soon as I voice opinions that do not fall in line with their thinking.

      • False argument, false assumption. You keep making an ignorant logic error where you attribute s push back against authoritarian tendencies as a desire to protect racism. While I certainly understand your desire to caricature and denegrate your opponents so you may pretend to moral superiority, try to get it through your skull that you are exactly the person you think you despise. Close minded, bigoted, and always attributing negative characteristics to the people you do not like to justify your prejudices.

      • Matthew C. says

        @Princess Underlove

        Popper meant by intolerance the establishment of tyranny, like the one you advocate for. Oof. Finally we have reached the consensus that you must spend the rest of your days in a reeducation camp. Thank you for your cooperation in advance.

        “The tolerance paradox is well-threaded ground, it’s quite pathetic that conservatives always go back to the same tired old BS to defend their racism, but I suppose that being closed to new ideas is what defines a conservative so no wonder they can’t think beyond their ancient dogma.”

        Wait, so do indigenous mesoamericans, who are by the standards of the modern era, conservative, clinging to their ways of life, evil and disgusting or noble, pure and sexy? I’m puzzled.

    • KAM says

      Princess doesn’t deign to “prove” anything. She engages in shrieking, name-calling, assuming the conclusion under debate, laying the groundwork for violence, and generally demonstrating why her ilk are an existential threat when they come to power. Her approach is stalinist. She is why Quillette is needed.

  3. Kencathedrus says

    @Princess Underlove: ‘it’s all music to my ears because the whining of reactionaries can only mean that we are doing something right’

    Until the very restrictions on free speech that you celebrate here on the Quillette comments are used against you to suppress what you yourself believe in. If history teaches us anything, it’s that the goalposts of what is ‘allowable’ speech can change at a moment’s notice.
    I don’t agree with most of your comments, but despite that I’m happy to see you here. I’d much rather listen, and perhaps be the focus of your anger, than that a Quillette moderator removed your comments.

    Part of what’s turning me off against leftist discourse is that it allows no questioning or doubts. Whenever I try to voice my concerns about the seismic societal shifts that are coursing through the West, I am usually labelled a bigot or racist. On any left-wing website my comments are usually removed, not because they are rude, but because I asked a question or raised a concern. Comments that tell me to ‘go f*ck myself’ seem not to be problematic at all and remain long after my comment has disappeared.

    For all its faults, Quillette offers a platform for diverse voices. I rarely encounter rudeness under the articles as most people here seem able to entertain thoughts and opinions while not necessarily agreeing with them. As a liberal arts professor that to me is exactly what a good education aims to do: look at all sides of an argument without jumping to knee-jerk conclusions. I remain skeptical of professors (both left and right) that claim to know what is morally right or wrong and subsequently preach such to students.

    A lot of my students are Trump supporters. Some are also fervent Democrats. I would be doing my profession a grave disservice if I silenced or insulted students based on whether or not I agreed with their politics.

    • Princess Underlove says

      @Kencathedrus

      I can’t fathom a reason to defend the spread of racism, misogyny, transphobia, etc. other than you supporting those views yourself.

      So the mechanisms to deplatform hate could also, potentially be used to deplatform progressives, that’s your argument? Well, that’s already happening and strangely y’all only seem to care about “muh freeze peach” when hate is being deplatformed, you never seem to care about the conservatives abusing the legal system to silence progressives with frivolous lawsuits, and what about undocumented immigrants? y’all care so much about their speech that you declare their existence “illegal” and want to put them and their children in cages, how well does muh freeze peach work inside a cage huh?

      So yeah I’m not buying your commitment to free speech, if you were so sincerely worried about deplatforming as a tool, you wouldn’t worry so strictly about conservatives. Deplatforming hate is not a bad thing, it’s a duty of every progressive.

        • Princess Underlove says

          @Jujucat

          Are you being disingenuous? You can get a definition of hate speech from any online community guideline, here’s a definition from wikipedia:

          “Hate speech is speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”

          I would add that hate speech is actually such when the privileged use it against the disadvantaged, so for example when white people attack people of color in a white supremacist society where PoC are still suffering the socioeconomic fallout of slavery.

          • YourPalHal says

            It’s fine to ignore the Wikipedia definition since you, yourself, may have composed it. Merriam-Webster is more reliable.

          • Jujucat says

            Ah yes, I didn’t think about using online community guidelines for defining our language. Duh me! lol Thank you Princess! 🙂

          • Jujucat says

            @Princess

            I have another dumb question if you would please indulge me: How do I know if I am privileged or not?

          • Matthew C. says

            @Princess Underlove

            What exactly is the difference between you, and a religious zealot, who must create a totalitarian theocratic society otherwise people will go to hell?

            “Hate speech is speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”

            Funny. The definition of hate is to attack, and the definition of “to attack” is…well, to not tolerate? This prevents the existence of any complex social system, any authentic culture and any sovereign ethnic group.

            Let me guess. You being on the verge of putting your outgroups in death camps is not hate, but someone preventing immigration from Muslim majority countries hates?

            “PoC are still suffering the socioeconomic fallout of slavery.”

            Thanks to “white supremacy” PoC in the West are outrageously rich compared to PoC in their native countries. As for socioeconomic fallout of slavery, citation needed.

          • KAM says

            In other words, hate speech is whatever she says it is, dammit. She decides, based on her superior moral position, and on your obvious resistance to said moral superiority.

      • King Shit says

        Few could. The problem with your reasoning is that it’s based on selectively defining the terms you’ve used such that you’re able to feel good and (hopefully) be congratulated for silencing and insulting those with whom you disagree. Your definitional difficulties are really what lies at the root of your problem.

      • The reason you do not understand is that as an intolerant bigot you have difficulty comprehending that people may oppose what you advocate for reasons other than wanting to further racism, misogyny, misandry, etc. People who belueve that to restrict speech leads to authoritarian control would rather people be allowed to say hateful things than have give some one else the licence to dictate what is said. That does not mean they want people to say these things, they just see it as the lesser of two evils. Note that such a point of view is in fact virtuous, which means it is not you against the nasty racists, but you against other moral people who are virtuously advocating a different priority. You may not agree with it, but to paint them as racists is simply untrue. A lie you tell yourself in order to justify unthinking adherence to the superiority of your own beliefs.

      • Peter Schaeffer says

        PU, “Deplatforming hate is not a bad thing, it’s a duty of every progressive”

        Have you deplatformed yourself? Your hatred and bigotry comes through loud and clear.

      • Ron S says

        Dear Princess – I can’t fathom a reason to engage with incoherence.

  4. Craig says

    The tolerance paradox is well-threaded ground, it’s quite pathetic that conservatives always go back to the same tired old BS to defend their racism, but I suppose that being closed to new ideas is what defines a conservative so no wonder they can’t think beyond their ancient dogma.

    Your “new idea” is called bigotry, and the very first time it was outlawed was here where I live, in the United States. You would see a return to the good old days when Catholics were burning Protestants at the stake for heresy over religious disagreements. You claim you are fine and good because racists shouldn’t be tolerated, but you have done nothing but accuse somebody you don’t like, and then convicted him in your own mind, and used that to justify punishment. You use racism as your pretext today, but tomorrow it will be something else, and the day after that, yet another thing somebody does that you don’t approve of. The number of things your kind can come up with to persecute people for is infinite. And you will feel self-righteous about it, the whole time.

  5. Doug Deeper says

    (There is no reason to reply to The Princess. Clearly she is only capable of projecting her own bigotry. I can hardly wait for her response to me as it will likely illustrate my point far better than I can. I am guessing how many names she can call me in one response.)

    BACK TO THE ISSUE AT HAND: the tech giants have amassed incredible control of the means of propaganda. This is very effective in eventually ensuring the left controls the means of production. Their totalitarian goals are revealed more every day. The universities are indoctrinating millions every year, thus there are fewer and fewer people who have any understanding of alternative views, or human history, or human nature.

    The question then becomes how can a country that has lost so much control of its own narrative to this new totalitarian left return to a trajectory of growing respect for the individual, with rights no man or woman can take away. It is the potential strength of the “resistance” to this new left that will be the determining factor in whether we will remain free individuals living in a free country.

    • Walter says

      I dunno, I don’t feel like the tech giants have ‘totalitarian goals’, like, I’ve been a googler, and that was not a memo we passed around.

      As far as totalitarian left spreading propoganda etc etc goes, I think there is a bit of a quiverfull effect, yeah? You know that sect, their whole deal is that they have lots of kids and nobody else does, so they think they are gonna grow to be a majority real quick?

      But, like, how it goes is that you see an awful lot of ex-quiverfull folks around. The left is kind of the same deal. They are very good at convincing people who don’t have strong preconvictions, but very bad about not forming circular firing squads and exiling people for unwokeness every few months.

      Like, the ‘alt right’ is not ex-conservative, they are ex fervent progressive. That whole crew is just folks who got exiled from the hivemind for some microaggression or other and now they just harass their old buds. The left builds its own enemies at about the same rate it builds its support base, because the former comes from the latter.

  6. DiamondLil says

    Princess Underlove is a well-known 4chan troll. Don’t waste your time with him/her/it.

    • I don’t know. It sets up such easy targets to knock down and provides good practice for when dealing with people who say stuff like this in real life. Forwarned is forarmed as they say.

  7. Serenity says

    “By the 2016 election, Facebook itself was producing propaganda from its headquarters in Menlo Park.

    Former employees told ‘Gizmodo’ they ‘routinely’ suppressed right leaning stories on the company’s breaking news platform. ‘News curator’ kept stories they regarded as conservative from appearing among those trending on Facebook, even if actual share numbers indicated they were popular enough to be included.” Tucker Carlson “Ship of Fools. How a selfish Ruling Class is bringing America to the brink of revolution.”

  8. Quillette’s comments system has been slow and glitchy for some time. Many thanks to Princess Underlove for revealing it’s all a conspiracy against her.

  9. “Or to put it another way: since Zuckerberg often described Facebook as “like a utility,” then this reaction was the equivalent of AT&T declaring that Mondale losing to Reagan meant it was time for them to rethink the mission of this whole phone line network thing.”

    A self-described utility? So, maybe Kamala Harris and others are onto something regarding breaking it up and seperating contents from platform?

  10. Chip says

    So a guy donated ten thousand dollars to a pro-Trump organization, and some people criticized that, and this is somehow a “rabbit hole of intolerance”?

    • Anon says

      Your employer demanding that you publish a (false) statement saying you will vote for Gary Johnson, uh yeah I think that might be intolerance. Did Zuckerberg declare that political contribution to the FEC?

  11. Unknownsailor says

    We are not here to talk about your moral virtue, we are here to talk about the rigid enforcement of hard left dogma by the tech monopolies.

    If you cannot stick to the subject, please leave.

  12. Marilyn says

    Princess Underlove cannot make her/his? argument because he/she doesn’t have the tools or temperament to argue constructively (and maybe learn something). So, she/he (trying to be PC here) falls back on the easy epithets and labels a la Hillary Clinton, such as “nazi-white racist-misogynist-hate speech” etc. As Trump would opine “sad”.

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  14. Doug Wallace says

    Facebook has nothing to do with freedom of speech. They will censor any message, no matter how innocent, that does not align with their leftist narrative.Pravda would be proud.

  15. Stephanie says

    Terrifying that an employer could force a political statement from his employees. Surely there’s a winnable case here? Clearly Mr. Palmer should sue!

  16. islamaphooey says

    I’m sort of new to Quillette and I really enjoy the pieces. And the comments are enlightening too. Ms. Underlove represents the unfortunate tendency of the Left to fully embrace their inner totalitarian. Maybe though it’s not unfortunate, since it should be on display for all to see. What the Left has done, and they don’t seem to care since their emotions rule them, is dilute the meaning of racism to the point that many of us just tune it out. You can only cry wolf so many times. But what’s different about me and lefties is I will continue to defend THEIR right to speak. Hell, I’m so old school I defended the rights of the REAL Nazis to march in Skokie long ago. What’s funny to me is how worked up the Left gets over a dozen or 50 or even a hundred right wingers marching or protesting or whatever. Imagine if they were allowed to do their thing, and were ignored. Just ignored. Would they return next time in greater numbers? Likely they would slink off in embarrassment. But I guess the Left HAS to counter the right because they like to wallow in their virtue.

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  18. This is the kind of stuff that pushes myself and countless other to not vote for Conservatives and right wing political aspirations, but to vote against the left wing and so called “progressive” policies.

    Princess Underlove and her type push more people to the right than Republican strategists ever could hope to.

    • jakesbrain says

      @Ryan Zacher

      “I think, if John Iselin were a paid Soviet agent, he could not do more harm to this country than he’s doing now.” — The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

  19. Sydney says

    Good post. I hadn’t previously known anything about the book/s or the subject.

    And it’s fitting that crazy commenter ‘Princess Underpants’ took the comments down a crazy, ranting SJW rabbit hole.

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