The first 100 days of Trump’s presidency were a shambolic festival of incompetence and looming catastrophe. But it’s not all about beltway politics, you know! Because the intense (and reasonable) focus is upon on the media-friendly dimensions of his buffoonery, we sometimes miss how it affects specific aspects of American life. The Verge took a look at what’s already happening to the technology business, from the threatened end of net neutrality to immigration lockouts. If you had hoped tech might have gotten through unscathed, somehow, perhaps you aren’t paying attention to how much his corner of the establishment hates it.
Under Donald Trump, Silicon Valley’s ideal of a global community no longer seems like the foregone conclusion it might have a few years ago, and people are still figuring out how to deal with the barriers Trump is erecting. Mass protests and legal battles have stalled bans on visitors from several Muslim-majority countries, and the president’s love of Twitter isn’t doing him any favors in court. But there’s still plenty more on the table that points to a future of isolation, not interconnection.
The change in course has shaken tech titans who are dedicated to getting the whole world online (and on their platforms). Mark Zuckerberg published a defense of "global community" that acknowledged its discontents, hoping to win the public’s affection before either running for president or making reality obsolete. Uber, meanwhile, stayed true to form and turned the protests into a way to make people hate it even more.
The larger tech world, which is ground zero for the high-tech immigration debate, has been slowly mobilizing to defend immigration. But one has to wonder whether their focus on the H-1B visa program — which lots of people agree actually is in need of reform — isn’t self-serving. In the meantime, the administration’s xenophobic rhetoric, coupled with actual violent incidents and aggressive deportations, is creating a culture of fear.
One can be ambivalent about the motives of Silicon Valley in all this, for sure. But their inane grinning platitudes belie something deeply useless about them when it comes to politics, especially opposition to Trump, that goes beyond the present crisis. Take the cringe humor of Zuckerberg’s strange, alien replica of how a presidential aspirant should address the public, for example: it’s so obviously, comically false it seems like a joke.
But then you remember: Donald Trump is president. Nothing is impossible.
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