An escalating tide of intolerant rhetoric has overtaken the media thanks to Donald Trump, but voices at leading businesses are pushing back. In an essay posted to Medium, Google CEO Sundar Pichai responded to recent waves of prejudice against Muslims by reiterating his own hopeful narrative of emigration from India to the US and the idea that his company is strengthened by diversity.
"It's been said a million times that America is the 'land of opportunity' — for millions of immigrants, it's not an abstract notion, but a concrete description of what we find here," Pichai wrote. "That is why it's so disheartening to see the intolerant discourse playing out in the news these days — statements that our country would be a better place without the voices, ideas and the contributions of certain groups of people, based solely on where they come from, or their religion."
Pichai joins a chorus of major Silicon Valley executives that have spoken out against intolerance — specifically Trump's — in recent days. On Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook would "fight to protect" the rights of Muslims, and work to "create a peaceful and safe environment." The comments echo a soaring statement Google's Eric Schmidt made on Monday, when he called on leaders in government and the technology industry to use their power to "fight broadly for human progress and tolerance."
It's worth mentioning that despite Pichai's glowing account of Google's campus, where he sees "a vibrant mix of races and cultures," his company and its competitors still have a lot of work to do within their own companies to further the cause of diversity and inclusion. Immigration is a particular concern among the Silicon Valley elite, who want to bring top international talent on board — something intolerant government policies would work against. Regardless, Pichai's thoughts feel personal and sincere. "I debated whether to post this, because lately it seems that criticism of intolerance just gives more oxygen to this debate," he wrote tonight. "But I feel we must speak out — particularly those of us who are not under attack."