Professional freedom of association as a form of resistance

About halfway through the interview process for a job at an e-commerce platform, in the course of researching the company I realized they were hosting an online store for a website I consider reprehensible. Here’s the letter I wrote to them.

Hello [recruiter/employees of platform currently hosting a thing I consider evil],

Please accept my sincere apologies for the late notice, but I need to cancel the interview we have scheduled for today.

I read a lot about WWII, and spend a lot of time thinking about one thing in particular: what could ordinary Germans have done to prevent the Holocaust without wielding state oppression? Nonviolent, extra-governmental pushback against the underlying toxic ideas is the only ethical response I can come up with.

This can happen at several different levels:

  • a lawmaker could refuse to vote for a law that requires businesses display a “No Jews” sign in their window
  • a police officer could refuse to enforce such a law
  • a company could refuse to obey such a law
  • an employee could refuse to work at a store that displays such a sign
  • a customer could refuse to shop at a store that displays such a sign

The opportunity to resist trickles down, becoming less effective at each level. But enough action at any level can stem or reverse the momentum of the idea at play.

Unlike people, some ideas deserve to die before they are realized. In some ways, government oppression–to which I am radically opposed–can give an idea more power. On the other hand, private speech contradicting the idea provides a distributed pressure that lacks a single point of failure.

I’m in a position right now to weaken the tide of ideas-I-think-deserve-to-die flowing out of [unethical customer on your platform] by not continuing this interview process. I’m grateful to you for providing me an opportunity to act in a way that embodies my ideals.

I really enjoyed speaking with all of you, and I sincerely thank you for your time. I’m disappointed to cut things short and would be happy to stay in touch. I hope you will consider revoking the credibility you are currently lending to [unethical merchant on your platform]; if that ever happens, I’d be thrilled to hear from you!



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