Twitter Just Gave James Damore A Much-Needed Lesson On The KKK

The former Google employee became famous for his memo. Now he's in the spotlight for something else.

James Damore continues to make waves.

The former Google employee was thrust into the national spotlight after losing his job over what critics said was a sexist memo shared amongst employees. On Wednesday, things took another unfortunate turn.

Damore took to Twitter to ask his followers how they felt about titles the Ku Klux Klan uses like "Grand Wizard," insisting that people "admit that their internal title names are cool."

"If you make the actual KKK the only place you can acknowledge the coolness of D&D terms, then you'll just push people to the KKK," he said in follow-up tweets. After swift backlash, Damore deleted the tweets, but not before NPR host Sam Sanders captured screenshots that included a response from Twitter user posting as "Near deGrasse Tyson."

"They specifically picked those goofy ass names so they could sound harmless," the user said, adding later. "The Klan designed all its iconography to make it easy for white folks to laugh them off. You're a dupe if you fall into that trap."

Although A Plus has been unable to confirm that the KKK intended its titles to sound harmless in the 1800s, Ku Klux Klan scholar and Duquesne University history professor Elaine Parsons told Pacific Standard in June that even in its earliest iterations, the group intentionally "trolled" post-Civil War society.

"They used humor to shake loose people's refusal to talk about inequality, playfully illustrating what they thought should be reality," Parsons told the publication. "They creatively destabilized norms to shake people loose of comfortable pieties." 

According to the article, the KKK's "playful" titles, costumes, and rituals allowed the group to engage in taboo behavior without being beset by certain consequences.

Criticism on the social platform soon led Damore to walk back his statement. He wrote that he should have approached the subject more sensitively.

There may, of course, be value in consulting with history buffs before tweeting, if only to avoid being schooled by them after. Here's hoping that everyone learned from this experience. 

Cover image via Shutterstock / Tero Vesalainen.

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