Technonlogy

Anti-Google far-right protest march postponed

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that’s taken over our lives.


Saturday will likely be a peaceful day there.


/ Getty Images

After President Donald Trump again claimed on Tuesday that there was fault on both sides during the marches in Charlottesville, Virginia — in which a protester was allegedly killed by a neo-Nazi sympathizer — Google must have wondered what to expect on Saturday.

After all, organizers from the right-wing side of life had declared there would be a march on the company in Mountain View, California, as well as eight other cities, that day.

This was to protest the firing of James Damore, a Google engineer whose in-house memo was deemed by many to have been offensive to women. 

Now, however, the march has been postponed. Organizers said on a website created to coordinate the march that this “peaceful” march was being called off because of “alt-left terrorist threats.” 

Later Wednesday, Mountain View police confirmed the postponement. But the department said it would “maintain a heightened presence” in the area “in an abundance of caution.”

The idea that this alt-left exists at all is disputed by some. It was, though, a term used by the president on Tuesday, as if to indicate that those on the left have organizations that mirror those on the right.

The anti-Google march organizers insist that “an Alt Left threat was made to use an automobile to drive into our peaceful march.” They claim authorities were notified.

Google declined to comment on the postponement. 

The march’s lead organizer is Jack Posobiec, a well-known alt-right conspiracy theorist whose tweets have come to the notice of Donald Trump himself

As well as blaming the so-called alt-left, Posobiec’s postponement announcement claimed that certain media had “made malicious and false statements that our peaceful march was being organized by Nazi sympathizers.”

Some might say that it’s hard to know where the border lies between a white nationalist and a Nazi sympathizer.

For Google, this postponement surely represents a little respite after Damore had become a hero to right-wing organizations and appeared on its YouTube broadcasts. After Charlottesville, however, he told CNN: “I do not support the alt-right.” He also referred to himself in a Reddit AMA as “a centrist.”

Google still has much to do, in order to move beyond a mess to which it has contributed heavily. It’s hard not to get the impression that it took action against Damore only when his memo was published by the media.

The company seemed taken aback to see the issue become politicized so quickly. In recent days, Google has been loath to offer any comment on the subject at all. It canceled an all-hands meeting to discuss Damore’s memo, claiming security and privacy concerns.

“In the coming days we will find several forums to gather and engage with Googlers, where people can feel comfortable to speak freely,” CEO Sundar Pichai said in a memo last Thursday. This doesn’t appear to have happened yet.

Pichai, though, will welcome anything that removes the focus from the company. Still, the anti-Google organizers say that they intend to march “in a few weeks’ time.”

What will be the atmosphere at Google? And what will be the atmosphere in America?

First published Aug. 16, 10:10 a.m. PT
Update, 12:27 p.m. PT: Adds confirmation on the postponement from the Mountain View Police Department.

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