I have long admired the chip-making Intel Corporation. Since its founding by the inventors Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, it has done marvelous work. Sadly, in its efforts at public relations and “corporate social responsibility”—and in response to an online controversy called Gamer-gate—the multi-billion-dollar Silicon Valley juggernaut is going in a troubling direction.
On January 5, 2015, Intel announced that it has made a capital appropriation of $300 million, which it intends to spend on promoting “diversity in the workplace.” It is partnering with various organizations in this campaign, such as Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition. In this same initiative, Intel is also backing the Internet video series Feminist Frequency, which is well-known to fans of video games but probably obscure to most other members of the American public.
The brand of feminism that Feminist Frequency promotes is not the relatively moderate sort that Betty Friedan advanced in the early 1960s; it is radical and more along the lines pushed by the late Andrea Dworkin. Of pertinence to supporters of the U.S. military, though, is that a major force behind Feminist Frequency publicly denigrates U.S. servicemen, vilifies Israel and the United States, and equivocates opposition to militant Islamism with racism and religious bigotry.
Though a popular series, Feminist Frequency is, for the most part, a two-person operation. It is hosted and co-written by a woman named Anita Sarkeesian, but the show is written and produced by a man named Jonathan McIntosh.
On January 16, 2015, McIntosh sent out this high-profile tweet:
This same Jonathan McIntosh acquired some Internet-based notoriety in 2008 because of what he calls his “remix videos.” He took famous video footage and re-edited it to convey messages different from what the source material intended to convey. U.S. courts have ruled McIntosh’s highly pretentious and parasitic art [sic] to be “Fair Use.” (Yes, McIntosh calls himself a “remix artist.”) One of his most popular works is “Donald Duck Meets Glenn Beck in ‘Right Wing Radio Duck’,” recommended by actor John Cusack and the late Roger Ebert. This video, which takes footage from more than fifty Disney cartoons and which Beck himself admitted is quite well-edited, tells the story of what happens when, supposedly on account of capitalism, a bank forecloses Donald’s home. Because Donald listens to Glenn Beck’s radio program, Donald blames his troubles on communists and Mexican immigrants, rather than on the evilness of laissez-faire market philosophy.
But more disturbing is that McIntosh has taken U.S. Army recruitment videos and edited them to depict U.S. soldiers as murderous. In “Army of One: Remixed (2003),” McIntosh intersperses a U.S. Army recruitment commercial with images of dead bodies—including a dead child—to convey that U.S. soldiers have nothing better to do than go around causing civilian casualties. Another video of his, “Go Army: Bad Guys (2008),” makes explicit McIntosh’s belief that U.S. soldiers are just that—bad guys. In the comments section for that bad-guys video, McIntosh writes that U.S. soldiers on active duty “are not risking their lives for me or for ‘liberty’. Sadly they are fighting for US corporate and economic interests.”
As Daniel Greenfield has written in Front Page Magazine, on January 12, 2015, McIntosh tweeted that he does not sympathize with the slain staff members of Charlie Hebdo magazine. As far as he is concerned, they were all bigots anyway.
When Osama bin Laden was killed, Jonathan McIntosh tweeted, “I’m not going to celebrate the killing of any human being regardless of how reprehensible they might have been. #OsamaBinLaden.” Yet just two days after the death of Christopher Hitchens, Feminist Frequency host Anita Sarkeesian tweeted, “Christopher #Hitchens is a racist, sexist, warmonger. The fact that people are choosing to look past this just because he died is appalling.” McIntosh reproduced those words in his own tweet.
It will not come as a surprise that McIntosh hates capitalism. Citing Noam Chomsky, McIntosh declares, “Markets are the single most destructive thing human beings have ever created.” For that reason, markets “need to be abolished – replaced with some kind of democratic participatory planing [sic] process.” That the preeminent Silicon Valley company is endorsing McIntosh’s work should not cause one to assume that McIntosh approves of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. He judges them to be “repugnant white dudes who believe capitalism and their personal technology idea will save the poor brown people.” He considers that stupid, for “You can’t get rich while ‘helping’ impoverished people” (a statement that is bewildering in consideration of how foreign direct investment in Taiwan in the 1970s helped enrich both the investors and the Taiwanese). McIntosh grew irate upon hearing such entrepreneurs discuss their idea in a coffee shop, deriding it as the delusion that “white people save the world.” At least, though, he admits that such entrepreneurs are “100% sincere” in judging their venture to be beneficent. He reports, in a tweet, though, that he confronted the entrepreneurs and berated them anyway: “Probably not super productive to tell random techie dudes that their business model is both evil and racist. But damn it they had it coming.” He concludes, “Capitalism pushes us into a dangerous mindset in which sexism, racism and transphobia are seen as a matter of personal consumer preference.”
That is nothing new for McIntosh. When the World Trade Organization director general Pascal Lamy gave a speech at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, McIntosh and a bunch of other anti-globalization activists heckled Lamy and shouted him down—that is, they harassed Lamy—and eventually had to be escorted out by police.
Believing that a corporation such as Intel would be sensitive to such anti-capitalism, a number of Gamergate supporters compiled those tweets and shared screen captures of them on Twitter. A number of these McIntosh tweets appear in this YouTube video from a critic of Feminist Frequency’s. Gamergate supporters entreated Intel, Do you want your logo next to the logo of this fanatical anti-capitalist?
Sadly, corporate executives are usually the last people to stand up for capitalism publicly. Ayn Rand—whom, of course, Feminist Frequency hates—understood as much. It is therefore unsurprising that Intel has not responded about the anti-capitalism. However, I think that Intel would have a more difficult time writing off the scurrilous videos about U.S. soldiers and the tweets disparaging the United States and Israel.
The blogger “Shermertron” points out that Intel has a reputation for being very good to veterans. Indeed, Intel also does business with the company Altera, which has the U.S. military as a client. This makes Intel’s explicit endorsement of Feminist Frequency all the more baffling. “Shermertron” thus recommends sending “a polite e-mail” to Rob Polston—Intel’s Veterans Recruiting Program Manager—“in which you alert him with regard to his company’s new partner,” Mr. McIntosh.
The Story Behind Why Intel Is Backing This Man Who Hates U.S. Troops and Israel
Intel’s sponsorship of this anti-U.S-troops, anti-Israel activist came about as a reaction to the controversy called Gamergate. Most mainstream media reportage of Gamergate has been outright scurrilous, going as far as inaccurately accusing Gamergate supporters of condoning death threats and rape threats against prominent feminists. Even some conservatives sympathetic to Gamergate seem to misunderstand the controversy as being primarily a right-wing pushback against Jonathan McIntosh’s attempts to impose political correctness into the stories behind popular video games. Although Gamergate does have some supporters who are conservative, libertarian, or Objectivist, most Gamergate members are center-Left—they support the laissez-faire liberal position on gay marriage and pornography, but favor the regulatory-entitlement state on economic matters. Gamergate’s battle against Mr. McIntosh is therefore not one, respectively, of right versus left, but respectively of center-Left versus extreme Left. For a more balanced perspective on Gamergate, see this impersonal summary, or the articles by Cathy Young, or the writings and videos of prominent Gamergate member Elizabeth Fogarty, a.k.a. LizzyF620. (Warning: the Wikipedia entry on Gamergate is dominated by editors prejudiced against Gamergate and is highly unreliable.)
This is what happened. Video games are now a $93 billion industry—rivaling that of pornography and motion pictures. Around them have rose up “video game news websites,” such as Kotaku (owned by Gawker) and Gamasutra. Around August of 2014, several video-game enthusiasts learned of some disturbing conflicts of interest between independent video-game developers (that is, people who make video games but are not connected to major corporations like Nintendo) and the video-game news sites covering them. Writers for these video-game news sites were favorably covering games developed by sexual partners and housemates without disclosing the nature of these relationships. Among these conflicts of interest, one name that frequently came up was that of Zoe Quinn, a developer who had also frequented “social justice” and feminist circles.
Rather than address these conflicts of interest in a professional manner, the video-game news sites that were implicated took advantage of Zoe Quinn’s connections to feminists. They therefore said that any criticism of undisclosed conflicts of interest regarding Zoe Quinn was slut-shaming and retribution against her simply for being a woman and feminist. The conservative actor Adam Baldwin (from Independence Day, Firefly, and the TV series Chuck) called this scandal “Gamergate,” and the name stuck.
The video-game enthusiasts took to calling themselves Gamergate and they started a boycott against the video-game news sites that had these undisclosed conflicts of interest. One of the sites they boycotted was Gamasutra. In response, Intel said it had stopped advertising on Gamasutra. The video-game news sites and their allies—such as Max Read of Gawker—accused Intel of misogyny and of capitulating to misogynists. Around this same time, because Jonathan McIntosh and Anita Sarkeesian were making their Internet series accusing video games of being generally misogynist, they decided to inject themselves into the controversy. They claimed that Gamergate’s criticisms of nepotism—particularly those relating to Zoe Quinn—was a misogynist backlash against the feminism-in-video-games activism in which Jonathan McIntosh pioneered.
Because Intel felt pressured by feminists, such as Amanda Marcotte, who denounced the company’s Gamasutra decision, Intel decided that it would try to appease these critics. Therefore, to mollify this antagonism, Intel announced it would partner with Feminist Frequency. At that moment, such a move seemed convenient, as such sources as The Colbert Report had conveyed the inaccurate impression that Feminist Frequency was the archenemy of Gamergate. Whichever executives decided that Intel should back Feminist Frequency, it seems that they assumed that Feminist Frequency was made by mainstream Betty Friedan-types—not a man who publicly disparages U.S. soldiers and denounces support for Charlie Hebdo’s slain staff members as white bigotry.
“Shermertron” has the right idea. If the news of Intel’s tacit approval of Mr. McIntosh’s fanaticism disturbs you, you can contact Mr. Polston and Intel to voice your concerns. Just as Mr. McIntosh has the right to express his displeasure about video games and U.S. soldiers, we too have a right to let Intel know about whether we approve of its choice.
Stuart K. Hayashi is a freelance writer in Mililani Town, Hawaii. He is the author of the political philosophy texts The Freedom of Peaceful Action: On the Origin of Individual Rights and Life in the Market Ecosystem, both from Lexington Books (Lanham, Maryland, 2014). His writings have appeared in the Objective Standard blog and in Skepti-Forum.
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