To those who thought McCarthyism was dead and buried, along with the viability of communism, you are sadly mistaken. Those who believe being socially progressive means being inclusive and open-minded have consulted the wrong thesaurus. And finally, to those who thought San Jose and its surrounding communities were about tech startups, innovation and creating a better world for everyone, wake up and smell that special blend of hypocrisy, bullying and narrow-mindedness that is being brewed every day inside the heavily insulated bubble of Silicon Valley. McCarthyism has been freshly resurrected and rebranded under the banner of social progressivism, and anyone caught drinking a different brand of Kool-Aid can plan on being run out of town on a rail.
Just ask Mozilla’s former CEO Brendan Eich. Apparently being a successful programming developer, chief technology officer and a co-founder of Mozilla wasn’t quite enough for Eich to keep his newly appointed title of CEO for longer than 10 days. Eich failed to realize that having a personal political opinion that meshes with current community standards is a major prerequisite for employment in the open-minded and inclusive world that residents of Silicon Valley like to think they live in. Eich had the audacity to believe in the concept of “traditional marriage” and even worse, he put his money where his mouth was to the tune of a $1,000 donation to California’s Proposition 8 which defined marriage in that state as between one man and one woman. His failure to keep his conservative opinions locked away in a closet cost him his job and the right to be protected under the quickly crumbling concept of free speech.
Silicon Valley has a very limited idea of what it means to foster an inclusive and socially progressive community. Basically, if your opinions aren’t socially acceptable, neither are you. Eich was the victim of a concerted effort by Mozilla employees to force him out of his job once they found out he supported traditional marriage. His talents, skill and tenure meant nothing to these intolerant bullies, whose social media and boycotting efforts helped paint a scarlet letter on Eich and sent him packing for an opinion that had nothing to do with his ability to do his job. The hypocrisy of the actions of Mozilla and its wayward employees is appalling.
The headlines of most media outlets highlighted the fact that Eich’s actions were “anti-gay,” which had the same effect as being labeled a “communist” during the heyday of McCarthyism. Nothing documented about Eich’s history suggests he is anti-gay — he simply made a donation toward keeping his idea of what constitutes a traditional marriage in place. The negative connotation of being called anti-gay is unfounded based on this evidence — to be called anti-anything suggests a strong bias or hate toward something. His donation did not constitute any of these things other than a support for a long-standing concept of marriage.
The hypocrites of Silicon Valley hide under the protection of supporting equal rights and feel free to fire their own brand of bigotry and intolerance at anyone with a different opinion. The argument used to justify the actions of these spiteful, spineless bullies of is that when people like Eich choose to support traditional marriage, they are taking away the rights of others. While this is true, it still does not justify using the same type of actions they are fighting against. Proposition 8 has since been struck down by the Supreme Court, and the tide has turned on those who would prevent same-sex marriage. Times are changing, and those who believe in traditional marriage are going to have to get used to the fact that equal rights for everyone in this country, regardless of sexual or political preference, is inevitable.
Eich’s attempt to keep the concept of traditional marriage alive failed, and it failed long before he was ever named CEO of Mozilla, which means the witch hunt that his co-workers sprang on him was completely unacceptable. Eich’s views are no longer preventing equality in California, and thus his ouster from Mozilla was based solely on the fact he dared to have a socially unpopular opinion that he tried to keep to himself. Despite the fact Eich promised to foster an inclusive environment at Mozilla, it was the exclusionary actions of his own company that ultimately led to his demise and furthered the hypocrisy of communities like Silicon Valley — that if someone’s personal beliefs are not on the right side of the fence, they must be on the wrong side of history. But as the cowardly actions of Mozilla have shown, history will surely repeat itself.