Recently GitHub provoked a storm of protest after staffer Amy Palamountain amended a proposed ‘Open Code of Conduct’ such that complaints of harassment arising from ‘reverse-isms’ such as ‘reverse racism’ would not be acted upon. Palamountain is on record as saying, “[…] The intent is deliberate, and I strongly disagree it should be altered to be more lenient to privileged groups […]”. Recent British examples illuminate the terrible folly of that statement.
In my previous article I set out potential legal problems with the TODOGroup Code of Conduct. In this article I want to address the moral and policy arguments around the extreme left belief that ‘reverse racism’ does not exist and cannot do harm. I found this exceptionally offensive as a person living in post-Rotherham Britain.
Consider this extract –
“Racism was once defined as ‘prejudice plus power’ – […] However, the ‘racist murders’ of Kriss Donald in Glasgow in 2004 and Ross Parker in Peterborough in 2001, young white men killed by Asians, demonstrate how society has been forced to redefine racism”.
Is this a Conservative website? A right-wing blog? Nope. I am quoting the BBC (archive here). The brutal killing, in which a 17 year old called Ross Andrew Parker was beaten with a hammer, stabbed and kicked to death before being left in a pool of his own blood caught national news in the UK for its violence and the explicitly racist motives of the killers.
The ideas espoused by controversial activists such as Anita Sarkeesian when she says that “sexism is prejudice + power” (archive here) or when she talks of the “myth” of “reverse racism” (archive here) are ideas that even the BBC admitted were horribly, tragically wrong nearly 10 years ago. The Guardian agreed – no weaselling about ‘reverse-isms’ they called it a ‘racist killing’ (archive here).
A more recent example was the horrific revelations at the end of last year in the British town of Rotherham. What was the Rotherham scandal? To quote the BBC it was about child sex abuse on ‘industrial scale’ (archive here). The perpetrators? To quote feminist Suzanne Moore in the Guardian newspaper (archive here), “men of Pakistani and Kashmiri descent, working in gangs to rape and torture girls”, who “called the girls ‘white trash'”. Of course as Moore also rightly pointed out, in other times and other places, white men have targeted girls of “Caribbean descent”.
Moore echoes my point that racism of all kinds falls mostly on the weaker and poorer members of the victim group. As she also correctly points out it in both cases it was poor children from deprived backgrounds who were targeted.
Turning back to Rotherham though, it was overwhelmingly white, underage girls being preyed upon by non-white perpetrators. According to the official report, over 1,400. To visualise the scale of the horror imagine one 13 year old school girl, sobbing, crying and bleeding curled up at home in the aftermath of a rape. Now imagine ten of them lined up. One hundred. A whole school assembly full. Reach a thousand and you still have not imagined all the victims.
This scandal went on for 16 years, from 1997 until 2003. Why? How did the heinous crimes against children in Rotherham escape notice for nearly two decades? According to the extensive official report – “Several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist”. Under the leftist Labour government public servants like social workers and police lived in fear of false allegations of racism.
Because of the fear of SJWs and an unwillingness to acknowledge non-white racists and perpetrators, generations of defenceless teenagers were raped and raped and raped for 16 years. Only when a Conservative Government was elected did the matter properly come to light. The Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May (a Cabinet Minister, a bit like being Secretary of State in the United States) called it, “institutionalised political correctness” (archive here).
Political correctness and an unwillingness to acknowledge that ‘reverse-isms’ are real and in fact are simply, ‘isms’ were the underlying causes of the Rotherham scandal. Racism is racism. Sexism is sexism. It is shameful that figures like Anita Sarkeesian or companies like GitHub are going down the same dark road. No one is saying that the biggest racism problem in Britain is caused by non-white perpetrators. However, in Britain today it is also ruinously unacceptable to deny the existence of non-white racism.
Similarly, whilst most perpetrators of child sexual abuse are male, the teachers’ regulator (which publishes its decisions) has brought to light many instances of female-on-male abusers.
So, whilst neither Sarkeesian nor Palamountain can be blamed for any murders or rapes they hold similar ideologies to those that contributed to the Rotherham scandal. Their belief that anti-white racism does not exist has been abandoned even by other many other left wingers for years in this country.
GitHub says it has ‘paused’ the process with its new code of conduct but it has still not removed the improper text stating that it will not act on “reverse-isms”. Neither Amy Palamountain nor CEO Chris Wanstrath have yet apologised.
Before moving on to discuss what we can do to change this, it is worth setting out how companies see codes of conduct. As a law student, I know that most companies will have codes of conduct against discrimination because if they do not, they will get sued. That means not having a policy is a non-starter.
So when communicating with GitHub, their managers or investors it is important to be clear on the narrow section of the Code objected to and the reasons it is unlawful and offensive. It is also worth explaining you would prefer a concise Code with a minimum of contentious political content. Finally it is important that any communication be polite and professional. Take the time to spell check and sort out paragraphs. Talk about any positive aspects of GitHub that you like too.
As a movement for ethics in journalism and the technology industry, it is important we not be vindictive. I feel we should be aiming for the removal of the text and a public apology from GitHub and Palamountain. If you feel that is right then you can let the company know using the contact details I published at the end of the previous article, which include the email addresses of those concerned.
To help up the pressure, readers can also let GitHub’s investors know. GitHub recently raised a second round of funding from investors led by Sequoia Capital. Those investors will want their money safeguarded and they will want GitHub to avoid risking their returns with politically contentious or discriminatory statements. Key figures in Sequoia capital are Michael Moritz, Donald Valentine and Douglas Leone. They all publish their email addresses on the company website so you can quite legitimately send them polite messages –
Another longstanding investor in GitHub is Andreessen Horowitz. Ben Horowitz, a founder, is listed on Twitter under the name @bhorowitz – why not tweet him linking to my last article? You can drop their press team a line at – email@example.com . Let us ensure that GitHub and their backers know that the bigotry expressed by their staff is unacceptable. Please help spread this article. Each forum post and tweet increases its search profile.
This article was put to GitHub, Sequoia Capital and Andreessen Horowitz before publication. I also offered to delay publication upon request if they wanted time to object to any allegations made. No responses other than two read receipts were received. There was no denial and no objection to any aspect of the proposed campaign.
Shortly before publication, Amy Palamountain published a series of tweets accusing me of encouraging readers to “participate in harrasment [sic]”, also saying that readers of this blog were being, “manipulated” and that I sent the draft to “insight fear [sic]”. These allegations are atrocious for the spelling alone. Encouraging readers to harass is denied. Harassment is discouraged – send polite emails and letters to investors instead. Sending a pre-draft is ethical journalism and a means to limit legal risk.