Why Silicon Valley needs to unite against Muslim ban

posted in: Recruiting/HR | 0

By:  Sharon Florentine

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
Maya Angelou

My son is 5. Besides myself, he is the most stubborn, opinionated person I know. Like most kids his age, he has boundless energy for the things he wants to do and becomes suddenly incapacitated when it comes to the things he has to do like cleaning his room, picking up his toys (everything you’ve heard about the pain of stepping on Legos is 100 percent true), helping with chores or walking to school.

We live three blocks from his elementary school. Since his first day of school, he has complained, whined, moaned and groaned to high heaven about the terrible injustice we’ve done to him, buying a home so perilously close to his school, and the undue burden he must shoulder and the horrors of this arduous journey. He wants to drive. He wants to ride in the car.

I’ve made it perfectly clear that we have legs and coats and strength and fortitude, umbrellas and boots and a need for fresh air and exercise and (except a few times when the wind chill was unbearable or it was too icy on the sidewalks) that we walk to and from school. Period, full stop. I’ve made room on my bookshelf for the “World’s Meanest Mom” trophy.

My point (and I do have one, I swear) is that when you’re dealing with a person who’s eminently unreasonable, logic and reason don’t work. You have to set boundaries and limits and stick to them from the beginning, or your word means nothing. In this case, the second I cave in to his demands and drive to school, I’ve rendered all my previous arguments — however logically sound and perfectly reasoned — moot. And so, morning after morning, come rain, sleet, snow, wind, sun or hail, we walk.

The truth is, I absolutely hate it, too. It’s cold, it’s uncomfortable, and it takes a lot longer — but it’s a boundary I’ve set and I need to stick by it, because it’s the right thing to do.

And I think there’s a lesson in all this for Silicon Valley in dealing with the current presidential administration, especially in regards to what I believe to be, the recent immigration ban. If you didn’t speak up against this administration before the election, or if you attempted to mollify and appease them beforehand, then it’s gonna be damn hard to walk that position back. You’ve already given them an inch, now you just have to hold on while you and all the rest of us are dragged the rest of this shocking mile.

The other point I’d like to make is that Trump and his cronies told us who they were. With their global gag rule, Muslim ban, border wall, misogyny, ableist, racist, fascist, anti-Semitism and all — well before the election took place, and whether you took them “literally” or “seriously” or thought it was all just “locker room talk” or “campaign tactics,” not enough people believed them. And if you thought you could go along to get along and use your influence to reason and logic your way to some kind of commiseration, well, let me refer you to my points above about my 5-year-old. That is what we’re dealing with, now.

Some tech leaders have come out forcefully against the current administration, while some still have Peter Thiel seated on their boards; some CEOs have donated $1 million to the ACLU while some are accused of trying to engage in strike-breaking. Some have refused to condemn a Muslim registry.

In the face of this immigration ban (and whatever comes next), Silicon Valley needs to step up, unite and push back. Because actions like these are stifling innovation, they’re hampering diversity and inclusion and they’re doing nothing to strengthen your ability to succeed as a business. Not to mention, that this country’s foundation was built on immigrants and it’s the right, moral thing to do.

The current president and his administration may have fooled some into thinking they could be reasoned with, and Silicon Valley may have fooled others into thinking they could use their leverage, power and their voices to influence policy, but it’s clear neither of those things are true. Now it’s time for Silicon Valley to, literally use the power it has always claimed to have and change the world for the better.