National Review Nods

Over at National Review, Nicole Gelinas is critical of James Damore’s memo to Google.  It is disturbing that a conservative magazine like National Review should decide to publish a piece making the points that this one does.  If Damore can’t get a fair hearing for his views at National Review, then things are pretty bad.

Gelinas takes the view that Google was wrong to fire Damore, because Google says it encourages internal dissent.  But Gelinas then criticizes Damore’s memo.  I agree that Google is being hypocritical here.  But Gelinas’s critique of the memo is unfair and weak.

Gelinas appears to have two points.  First, she acknowledges that many of Damore’s points are true.  But then she criticizes Damore not saying anything new.  “He said nothing that hasn’t already been said, in tiresome fashion, for decades.”

But if Damore has merely repeated old truths, and that is enough to provoke a firing and such wrath, then that shows those tiresome old truths need to be repeated.  They are being ignored.

Second, Gelinas treats his claims as unhelpful and subject to abuse.  He writes that the characteristics of men and women may lead them to choose different areas in which to work.  Gelinas again treats this as a tiresome old truth.  But then she claims that this truth can be abused.  It would justify a manager assuming that a woman will not continue to work hard in the future, but a man will.

But Damore is not arguing for such treatment.  He wants to treat people as individuals.  That others could use his reasoning to take improper or illegal actions is besides the point.  His point is merely that if one were to hire and promote simply based on merit, that would not necessarily lead to equal numbers of men and women in positions of leadership within Google.

Google, however, does not appear to accept or recognize this tiresome truth.  Instead, it acts as if it were not true, assuming discrimination when other explanations for disparities might be true.  While discrimination is always a possibility, it is significant that in other areas, where the evidence that Damore relies upon suggest that women would be interested in the jobs, women far outnumber men (such as with new veterinarians and pediatricians who make more money than programmers).

There are many responses that a conservative publication like National Review could have appropriately taken in response to Damore’s memo.  But the one they chose to publish – which repeats the biases that Damore challenges – was not one of them.

Reader Discussion

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on August 15, 2017 at 10:09:15 am

National Review is hardly Homer, and longtime readers know it has been asleep--not nodding--in recent years.

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Mark Pulliam
on August 15, 2017 at 11:38:30 am

"The one they chose to publish"? I didn't make any of these decisions and probably wouldn't have run the Gelinas article, but there were many, many defenses of Damore on NRO.

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Ramesh Ponnuru
on August 15, 2017 at 16:13:29 pm

Unfortunately, NRO is NOT conservative (Mr Ponnuru excepted) and I would *up* Mark one better - it appears to be comatose with far too many of its editorials / staff and policy prescriptions.

And to think that after over five decades of reading, I no longer review it.

As for Gelinas, her position would appear to be akin to those (in Australia (but also in the States)) refuse permitting for a synagogue because it may offend some Mohammedans or cause others to misinterpret it.

Nice job NRO and Gelinas or are you trying to be the New Republic (offspring)?

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on August 15, 2017 at 19:03:03 pm


I didn't see the other articles when I wrote this, but I now see that NRO has gone with some other pieces. I am glad for that. But why publish the Gelinas piece? (I know you did not make that decision, Ramesh.) I can't read the editor's mind, but publishing this politically correct piece suggests that NRO feels the need to protect itself from criticism and to suggest that there are various positions on this issue. Perhaps that is not the explanation, but if so I must ask again -- why publish the Gelinas piece?

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Image of Mike Rappaport
Mike Rappaport
on August 15, 2017 at 22:55:27 pm

Discussions of innate differences should not discuss how those differences might correlate to membership in groups that social justice warriors are sensitive about.

The way to proceed is to assume there are innate differences, then to try to find operations that measure the differences quantitatively. One of those operations could be IQ tests. Let the operation try to predict outcomes in performance using another measure, and leave it at that. Start with performance within groups, at the level of individuals. Might be first grade performance at jumping rope or playing baseball. Or grades on first grade math tests. See if second grade performance correlates with first grade performance.

Many of the social justice warriors teach. Are they going to stop testing their students? All those tests are a variety of IQ test, just on a particular subject. Or are they going to stop testing and let everyone pass with an "A"?

At Google hiring is based on test results. Use those tests as predictors. Or just hire using some kind of lottery, and see how that works out.

Might also examine the differences between workers willing and able to work 90 hours a week and those who are not. I have found few if any women who do that.

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Jon Roland
on August 16, 2017 at 01:15:07 am

I'm just a reader of NRO, but I've noticed that they typically publish pieces from a range of views within the conservative/libertarian spectrum on controversial issues. So, for example, you get pieces attacking McMaster and other pieces defending McMaster, pieces pushing tax cuts and other pieces saying tax cuts are played out, pieces in favor of restricting immigration and pieces calling for establishmentarian immigration "reform." I think the more charitable view is that NRO sees itself as a crossroads of the mainstream right, providing a forum for all responsible perspectives on the center right, including those that differ from their official editorial position. Some readers focus on the articles that veer too far to the left for their tastes, attribute the opinions expressed in those articles to NRO as a whole, and write NRO off as a RINO/squish/P.C. outfit (or worse). I myself wish NRO would dial back the "let a thousand flowers bloom" approach (since I tend to agree with their editorial positions), but I can understand what I surmise they're trying to do.

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Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.