I probably don’t have to tell you this story, but I will anyway: A few days ago, Michael Loftus, the CEO of a dubious “cloud services” company called Solid8, which counts among its clients Salesforce and Oracle, strode into a Carmel Valley restaurant’s outdoor dining patio with his middle finger in the air and proceeded to rant all kinds of horrible racist nonsense at an Asian-American family that was just minding its own business and enjoying a quiet meal. Eventually a brave server threw him out, but not before he insulted and embarrassed her, the restaurant, and all of its patrons. Oh, and he somehow managed to squeeze praise for the president in there along with all his other offensive comments.
They say if you see one mouse in your house, that means there are already a hundred in the walls. The same is true for someone like Lofthouse. As is so often true, the rare thing isn’t what he said, it’s that he said the quiet part out loud, in public. If you think hundreds or even thousands of executives aren’t spewing the same exact hate Lofthouse did, every day, you’re living in a fantasy world. Some are like Lofthouse, but many aren’t straight white males and quite a few are even self-styled liberals. (Those are the ones who add something about how committed they are to their “diversity initiative” or whatever the modern equivalent of “some of my best friends are Asian” is this week, right before they head out to their country home or vacation share in some all-white resort town.)
There’s a lot of anger at Lofthouse online right now and that’s all well and good, but this is a systemic problem and it won’t go away just because one person is banned from social media or even loses his company.
We need to get away from the TV mentality that cancelling one person solves the problem. This is a systemic issue that goes very deep. We must ask ourselves the following questions:
- Why did the venture capitalists on Sand Hill Road keep throwing their money at this subhuman bigot?
- Why are Salesforce and Oracle among other corporations paying him hundreds of thousands for his dubious gobbledygook “cloud service” offerings?
- How did he manage to get a home in toney Los Gatos, and an office on expensive California Street, when he doesn’t have the self control of Archie Bunker on meth?
- How could a good-looking, smooth-talking creep with a charming British accent can succeed so wildly so fast in a supposedly “liberal” town?
I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, but I do know that until we figure them out, we’re going to get more Michael Lofthouses, and some of them will be clever enough not to make racist rants in public until it’s too late.