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CEO of Banjo admitted to being a Neo-Nazi skinhead in his youth (onezero.medium.com)
275 points by jbegley 39 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 257 comments



I know two people who took jobs at Banjo. Both of them quit within months because the place was so incredibly toxic. Second hand info, so take with a grain of salt:

The CEO tries to run the company like a personality cult. Everyone was expected to be available 24/7 to respond to his demands. He liked to demand things on Friday night, weekends, or holidays to test people's loyalty. My friend was told he had to schedule his weekend activities with the company because everyone was on call all the time (he wasn't devops).People who didn't drink the kool-aid were filtered out quickly.

Banjo is also extremely aggressive with NDAs and threatening legal action against employees who speak out. Their Glassdoor page has been flooded with extremely dubious glowing reviews and I've watched many of the negative reviews slowly disappear over time for some reason.

The CEO recruited both of my friends with some grandiose stories, including the same story about being close friends with Zuckerberg. I don't know if he's actually close to Zuckerberg, but the Banjo CEO has been telling many people in Utah that he and Mark Zuckerberg are close friends, at least as a recruiting hook.

Banjo was already unpopular in Utah because they were awarded some very questionable state surveillance contracts. The state of Utah has already paused the contracts. As a Utah resident, I really hope this is the end of Banjo's involvement with Utah's surveillance.


i'm a reporter on the team that broke this story, if you don't mind passing along my email to those people: dave@medium.com. much appreciated, and sorry to barge in on your comment.


I'll pass it along, but I don't think they're interested in going on the record against their former employer given the circumstances.

I'm sure you're already on top of it, but it's not hard to find similar stories on social media:

Former employee on Damien's excessive labor tactics: https://twitter.com/LAtweets22/status/1255225658298507265?s=...

Another former employee with who is gathering e-mails and texts from her time at the company: https://twitter.com/djlilelle/status/1255156543017762816?s=2...



You're absolutely correct about the info both of your friends shared.

I know because I was a Banjo employee myself (3+ years), before Damien step foot in Utah (during a company party, he told us while casually chatting that he gave his wife a budget of $3m to find a new house - they lived in Vegas at the time).

During my time there, Banjo was building a team in Vegas, NV and Redwood City, CA.

He is a workaholic. This would not be a problem, if he did not identify with Banjo (literally) and expect everyone else to work on his schedule (most weekends included, since he has no life).

If you are a high performer and take pride in your work, be sure that you'll be asked to put your life on hold, work weekends (a lot of weekends), and work toward the "greater good": Saving lives and reducing human suffering - what a joke! I wish I can say that during my tenure there we actually saved lives. But that would be a lie. A lie that everyone I worked with knows too well.

I've read several of his statements that the "life saving" technology was born in Utah. This is not true. We worked on the algorithms long before, and we did not remove users info for a long time. Only after the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal emerged in 2018, he mandated the engineers to remove all user identifiable information before posting it on our platform.


> He is a workaholic. This would not be a problem, if he did not identify with Banjo (literally) and expect everyone else to work on his schedule (most weekends included, since he has no life).

Yes, this is exactly what I was told.

Strangely, one of my friends was recruited with promises of work/life balance and plenty of vacation time. Then they were asked to work non-stop, weekdays and weekends, as soon as they started.


Wow, an abusive, toxic person both then and now. It's funny how such people often rise to the top through bluster, despite being objectively bad at their jobs.


I've thought a lot about this. I think there is actually a form of manipulation / abuse that makes a leader objectively GOOD at their job. They become successful, wealthy, etc. That said, that form of leadership has costs. I think there are other modes of leadership that can be even better (cf. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teal_organisation) and that's what many company cultures are trying to cultivate.


> I think there is actually a form of manipulation / abuse that makes a leader objectively GOOD at their job.

Based on my experience, I'm more inclined to think the inverse it true. Those types of leaders are actually pretty bad at their jobs but appear subjectively good through manipulation and abuse.


I'll be honest. I like working in companies where the top executives are good at making money. Sometimes that coincides with working for people who treat others terribly, but are good at extracting money out of situations. I often wonder if certain people I've worked for are actually bad at their job. You've got survivor bias, so the fact that the company is successful is not necessarily due to the actions of the management. However I have to say that I've seen a really impressive number of situations where I think management has made the most incredible cock-ups and yet end up with considerably more money than they started with. I'm left with the impression that I'm actually a poor judge of what makes a good senior executive.


Some people are motivated better by reward. Some people are motivates better by fear of punishment.


> Some people are motivated better by reward. Some people are motivates better by fear of punishment.

Some people just want a fair trade of labor provided in exchange for money. All sane people, actually. Save the motivation bs for the army.


OK. Do most of us want to get wrapped up in the latter group's pathologies?


I think you're right, but like politicians (or anyone entrusted with handling large amounts of power), the real test is how you fare over the long run.

Quoting Buffett, recessions like we're heading into now are where the tide goes out and you can see who's swimming naked.

Like you, I've also thought about this a lot, but if anything, it's changed my opinion toward "career politicians", a category people love to dish on. It takes real talent to deal with conflicting interests over years/decades and not self-destruct.


>I think there is actually a form of manipulation / abuse that makes a leader objectively GOOD at their job

You don't even have to get into cutting-edge management theory, the entire USA was built for the first half of its life by slaves of one kind or another.


When I was a kid they told me anyone could be president. Now as an adult, I'm afraid they were right.


Times like this are when they wash out.


NDAs don’t really stop bad reviews online in my experience. Good luck tying them to any real person with some foresight.

If the stuff about the banjo ceo still being a bad person is true, then he deserves all that’s coming, but if it’s not and it’s just competitors or people with a personal bone to pick pilling on with fake stories then I actually feel sorry for the guy.

People deserve second chances. Particularly for the stuff they do before their brain fully develops at 25 or so.

If he ran away from a highly traumatic home at 15 and ended up with the wrong crowd until he matured, then broke all contact with them, reformed and never showed antisocial behavior again, for the next 20+ years. Instead become a contributing member of society to the point of managing a seemingly successful startup launch. If that’s the guy’s actual story then he truly deserves a second chance from society.


> People deserve second chances. Particularly for the stuff they do before their brain fully develops at 25 or so.

I agree about second chances, but with limits.

This guy is the CEO of a surveillance company with government contracts to collect people's data, including relationships with police departments and other sensitive sources. If he has a hidden past with the KKK, including being part of an attempted murder (they shot into a synagogue, hard to believe that wouldn't be considered terrorism these days), then how many other people have photos of him with the KKK? His situation is the definition of being compromised.

When someone has this much compromising info combined with government-related positions and access to people's sensitive data, that compromising history is a massive risk for extortion. It would be one thing if he had previously admitted his actions and publicly apologized, but instead he waited until the information surfaced.

Does he deserve a second chance for actions committed when he was young? Sure. Does he deserve lucrative government contracts that give him privileged access to people's sensitive data? No, I don't think so.


> I don't know if he's actually close to Zuckerberg, but the Banjo CEO has been telling many people in Utah that he and Mark Zuckerberg are close friends, at least as a recruiting hook.

...does that work for some people?


This would have been a worse allegation than whatever he did 30 years ago. We all change from the past, but should also be judged by present.


When reached for comment, Patton wrote:

"32 years ago I was a lost, scared, and vulnerable child. I won’t go into detail, but the reasons I left home at such a young age are unfortunately not unique; I suffered abuse in every form. I did terrible things and said despicable and hateful things, including to my own Jewish mother, that today I find indefensibly wrong, and feel extreme remorse for. I have spent most of my adult lifetime working to make amends for this shameful period in my life. In my teens, I dropped out of school, lived on the streets, ate out of dumpsters and raised money panhandling. I was desperate and afraid. I was taken in by skinhead gangs and white supremacist organizations. Over the course of a few years, I did many things as part of those groups that I am profoundly ashamed of and sorry about. Eventually, I was able to get myself away from this world while serving in the United States Navy. This turned my life around. While serving my country, I worked with law enforcement agencies in hate group prosecutions and left this world behind. Since then, I have tried and failed to completely accept and come to terms with how I, a child of Jewish heritage, became part of such a hateful, racist group. One thing I have done, through therapy and outreach, I have learned to forgive that 15 year old boy who, despite the absence of ideological hate, was lured into a dark and evil world. For all of those I have hurt, and that this revelation will hurt, I’m sorry. No apology will undo what I have done. I have worked every day to be a responsible member of society. I’ve built companies, employed hundreds and have worked to treat everyone around me equally. In recent years, I’ve sought to create technologies that stop human suffering and save lives without violating privacy. I know that I will never be able to erase my past but I work hard every day to make up for mistakes. This is something I will never stop doing."


> But Patton does not mention that, by his own testimony, he continued to socialize with white supremacists while in the Navy. Patton told prosecutors that he gathered with skinheads while stationed in Virginia for training. “I had known some of the Skinheads there from prior rallies in Tennessee and because of not knowing anybody there, I ended up meeting with them and hung out with them for some time,” he said.


He joined the navy at 18, in 1991 - immediately after getting off the street and out of the gang.

Did you expect his transformation to be instantaneous?


A bigger question is how is one allowed to join the navy after taking part in a racially motivated drive-by shooting?


and it's follow up is how can a remorseful person make amends and resume normality? I'd argue if there is no path back to normality they they will, by definition, forever find fringe behavior necessary and rational


This is so telling. There are so many individuals in our society who were participating in mainstream behavior and are still rotting away in jail.

Equality through jail isn't the goal, but we'd be remiss to ignore that he's admitted to a hate crime and living a pretty full life.

It is yet another example of the cracks in the rule of law


>I'd argue if there is no path back to normality

Well come on, it takes more than being "sorry" and building companies and "trying to treat everyone equally." Nothing he mentioned, besides apparently turning snitch in some cases, is even a hint of undoing the damage he did. Said another way: one way to make amends is to at least do something, you know, like even try to walk a path, any path. It doesn't sound like he's done more than stop hanging out with some people, which, congratulations, but it's no Nobel Peace Prize material. He should strive for Nobel Peace Prize material. Again: anything.


One way a sincere ex-neo Nazi could return to normality is by ceasing to socialize with active neo Nazis. That was not the case here. From the above quote regarding his seeking out and spending time with the same white supremacists: "I ended up meeting with them..."

How does one "end up" meeting with neo Nazis? He fails to take responsibility for his behavior after his hate crimes conviction!


> How does one "end up" meeting with neo Nazis?

Probably the same way that alcoholics often end up at bars.

For alcoholics their existing friends are often all alcoholics too, and to them normal people just dont "feel right" and are hard to meet when the only place you feel comfortable is a bar.

Similarly, when tryin to extricate oneself from a undesired community (toxic or otherwise) one has to learn where to meet people from the desired community, unlearn the undesired values+vernacular, learn the values+vernacular of the new community. etc.

We're herd creatures and, for many, not having a herd feels like being on the brink of death.


> How does one "end up" meeting with neo Nazis?

For one, if you happen to be in the same military unit, "meeting with them" is kind of an inevitability.

Also, this was still 30 years ago. If this is seriously the most recent example we have of him continuing to interact with neo-Nazis, then I feel like it's reasonably plausible that he's sincere barring further evidence to the contrary.


Wasn't it fairly common in the US' past that military service was an option if you didn't want to go to jail? I don't know for which crimes this applied, but it was definitely a thing.


During the Vietnam era. Not 32 years ago.


I met the guy probably in 2010-2012 at some social event where he was trying to recruit people. What I remember of him is that he said: "I used to do car racing. I run our company as a race team." Whatever it means...

At that time Banjo was a social network that let you see where other people were. It was the time when privacy was dead.

I think they may have pivot into news and then I lost track... Until today.

When you raise so much money there is a lot of pressure to return it with the interests. I do not know enough about what the company does now but it seems there may be something off.

But this is not about the company.

This is a vile attack to a person that seems to have reach some kind of success.

Some of us can see his past just as a data point but it is obviously different for the general public.

I heard somebody says that in these days the standards are too high. Somebody should have never made a mistake and if he did, he has that mistake on his head for the rest of their days. The Internet does not forget anything.

There is a lot of polarization and hunt for something or somebody to blame and complains about. The press and social medias play an important part in this positive feedback loop of negative comments. But this is not new. Witch hunting has existed for a long time.

The world does not need more of that. It needs more compassion.

I believe people can change and I believe in forgiving those that try their best to become better human beings.


> This is a vile attack to a person that seems to have reach some kind of success.

Is it a vile attack to just tell everyone, "Hey, this guy who has a sensitive govt surveillance contract shot up a synagogue with his skinhead gang and never went to prison for it"? Those are all facts. You perceive them as an attack because they reflect terrifying, repulsive behavior.

The alternative is not to report it because it makes him look bad, but... doesn't he deserve to look bad, especially if he didn't do any time in prison?

> I heard somebody says that in these days the standards are too high.

"You should not get a government contract if you were a dangerous skinhead" is not a high standard. Almost every human who has ever lived can meet this standard. I have personally found it incredibly easy to get through life's hardships without shooting at a synagogue. So have countless other people who would love the same contract this guy got.

> The world does not need more of that. It needs more compassion.

If you think compassion is finite, as some people do, then who should we spend it on? Should we lose sleep over ex-skinheads, or should we worry more about their intended victims?

I don't really see why we need to shed tears over people exposed for things they did. No one is smearing him -- just talking about what he did. People may change, but the facts of their life don't.

If you think compassion is infinite, then I'm not sure your suggestion makes sense anymore. If compassion were free, we would have more of it in the world.

> I believe people can change and I believe in forgiving those that try their best to become better human beings.

Absolutely! I agree 100%.

However, he continued hanging out with skinheads even after joining the military, and it's not really clear he feels remorse beyond the "I got caught and now I have to apologize" angle we're seeing in the news now.

Why hasn't he been working with anti-skinhead orgs? Why hasn't he written about his mistakes at length, like Sen. Robert C. Byrd, who was a Klansman and white supremacist as a younger man? Surely if a long-serving senator can rehab his public image, so can this guy.


There is a part of me that wants to extend forgiveness, but then I remember what Banjo does and I feel nothing for him.

I’ve known many who were stupid when they were young. It often is a direct result of malignant or neglecting parents. Some recover and do great things. This guy appears to have “recovered” and then went on to monetize state surveillance ambitions.


I don't know why they're down-voting you. I'm at least concerned that someone with that kind of past has anything to do with building such sensitive and influential law enforcement infrastructure. I don't know what his current state of mind is and I believe in second chances but this kind of history should disqualify you from at least some types of sensitive roles.


> I believe in second chances but this kind of history should disqualify you from at least some types of sensitive roles.

What exactly do you think a second chance is?


A second chance doesn't have to be perfect, it might just mean you can survive. How many people have gone to prison for much lesser crimes, like marijuana possession, and then become a millionaire? Not many, most just work shit jobs to survive. He was lucky, but doesn't have any right to his second chance.


Probationary.


A second chance doesn't mean a clean slate to do anything. You probably wouldn't put a convicted pedophile in a daycare, second chance or no.


He should be afforded some basic right to contribute to society - like managing a restaurant, or something. It is not appropriate for a former Neo-Nazi to receive state surveillance contracts. It is not appropriate for a former Neo-Nazi to be able to work with any kind of sensible data. Even if completely rehabilitated, their origins are - to my mind - treacherous.


*sensitive


Damn right I'm sensitive about Neo-Nazis gaining power and authority.


There's a difference between forgiveness and credibility, and you can have no credibility even if you've committed no crime. What Damien did was drive white supremacists to a synagogue shoot-up.

Credibility is part of the job of a CEO.


Can someone verify that he actually has a "Jewish mother?"


That's a perfectly legitimate question and it's surprising that the reporter didn't follow up on it. But if he were lying about that at this point, it would certainly ruin him, so it's probably true. The part that I find unsavory is that his comment repeats the detail twice. That's milking it, which to me makes the whole thing read like PR. He also shouldn't have included the bits about forgiving himself and employing hundreds. Someone is giving this guy bad editing advice. On the other hand, the claim that an abused kid would join a gang of criminal nutcases because they offered him belonging when no one else would, seems completely credible to me.


Claiming to have a Jewish mother (and thus being considered Jewish by pretty much everyone else, regardless of how you self-identify) does it for me.

You call yourself a Jew? You're welcome.

There are way more people shunning their Jewish identity, but I've never met someone pretending to be Jewish.


But this is a great time to play a card like this, it sells a narrative of reconciliation and "acceptance of who I really am". Don't you see? He was attacking himself - he's both the perpetrator and the victim!


I'm sure there are interesting counterexamples here but all I can think of is the anti-dentite episode of Seinfeld :)...

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Yada_Yada

I guess (anecdotally/hearsay) at least one person has done it to get a free birthright trip?

https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/i-pretended-to-be-jewish/


I believe it does happen. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binjamin_Wilkomirski is not clear whether the subject lied about being Jewish or simply lied about his upbringing, but I'd guess the latter.


oops: I'd guess the former.


I have met many people with organizations like "Jews for Jesus" and "Jewish Voice for Peace" who were not Jewish but claimed to be.


Me neither, but I've also never met someone with this much incentive to play the card..


What business is it of ours whether his mother is Jewish?


If it’s information publicly sed to try to garner sympathy, then ensuring its accuracy is the public’s business.


But from the same story, the court documents that Patton admitted he associated with skinheads in the United States Navy, which does not sound like "get myself away from this world" has any truthiness.


He mentions this in the past tense in his 1992 testimony, when he was 19. He was kicked out of his home at 15, committed these crimes in 1990 at the age of 17. This conforms his narrative of getting involved with hate groups during his youth, and leaving this work in adulthood. I'm not sure how your takeaway from this is that he is being less than truthful about leaving white supremacist groups.


I'm not seeing how that is a contradiction. His full sentence: "Eventually, I was able to get myself away from this world while serving in the United States Navy."

I interpret "while serving in" to mean that the process overlapped with his time in the Navy. If there was no overlap, to me it would have been more natural to say something like "upon joining" or "by joining" instead.


or, more simply, "I'm sorry I got caught"

Look, the man participated in a drive-by shooting on a synagogue when he was a legal adult. It's disgusting that people on this site are defending a literal terrorist because "he's one of our own."


Is it so unrealistic to think that an abused child would fall into a world of hate? Yes, participating in a drive-by shooting is absolutely horrible, but if he paid his dues to society through our legal system, why should this man be unable to run a business?

He clearly shows remorse for his hatred. I am not defending nazism in the least, but I think "cancelling" someone who made absolutely terrible decisions as a literal child is not a healthy way for our society to operate.


Lets be clear, he showed remorse once he was caught, but none before then. What dues did he pay? He appears to have moved on from that stage of his life fairly quickly, and appears to never have been rejected employment/housing via background checks due to a technicality. There are men on death row who committed the exact same crime.

I disagree with your second paragraph entirely. I do not want to live in a society where CEOs of multimillion dollar companies have indiscriminately shot up places of worship when they were 17 years old.


So what do you do with those people who did do those despicable things as teens? I don't just mean this, but any reprehensible action. I think obviously we can maybe keep them from getting any kind of comfortable jobs, keep them doing drudge work. But even then, do you really want a neo-nazi cleaning your toilets? No, that's not good enough.

We need to round them up and contain them somewhere. Their remorse can't be enough. We can't have them contaminating our air. If we put them in a single location and kept them from getting in and out, concentrated, we could keep ourselves safe from these people.

/sarcasm


You appear to have issues with my statement, but also don't seem willing to provide a coherent rebuttal. If you are willing to speak your mind plainly and clearly, feel free to edit your comment.

Since you evoked concentration camps, I'd be remissed if I didn't point out that the vast majority of Nazi bureaucrats, including many directly involved in the administration of concentration camps, faced essentially no punishment and quickly re-entered the postwar workforce. No one involved in the illegal incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII was ever sent to prison.


It's interesting that you bring this up, considering we've placed people into camps for far less (such as the crime of 'crossing the borders'), not to mention the hardline stance we've taken against MS-13 including things such as deporting teenagers whom gave us information on MS-13 and were undoubtedly marked for death.

Can you tell me what the difference is between a neo-nazi gang and MS-13 and why one gets crocodile tears while the other has the book thrown at them?


> There are men on death row who committed the exact same crime.

[citation needed]. There are very few crimes eligible for capital punishment in the United States, and neither juvenile delinquency nor property damage are among them, even if ethnically motivated and/or involving a firearm.

> I do not want to live in a society where CEOs of multimillion dollar companies have indiscriminately shot up places of worship when they were 17 years old.

I do not want to live in a society where teenagers are prevented from "the pursuit of happiness" (one of the three inalienable rights upon which my country was founded) for the rest of their lives simply because they were victims of white supremacist grooming/brainwashing.


> [citation needed] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felony_murder_and_the_death_pe.... There are quite a few under-18 cases.

> "the pursuit of happiness" (one of the three inalienable rights upon which my country was founded)

inalienable rights are, by definition, forfeitable in the cases where one's actions violate another person's or group's inalienable rights. Shooting up a synagogue qualifies as one such action.

> simply because they were victims of white supremacist grooming/brainwashing.

"These weren't the kind of men you send to jail... You don't make the punishment fit the crime; you make the punishment fit the criminal."[1] Once again, let me state that I find it incredible that many people such as yourself believe that the CEO of a multimillion dollar company, who participated in a violent hate crime and avoided the consequences of his actions due to a sympathetic court and typo, is the victim in this whole affair.

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Vincent_Chin


> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felony_murder_and_the_death_pe.... There are quite a few under-18 cases.

Per the article: "No one was struck or killed in the shooting."

So again, [citation needed] about people committing the "exact same" crime being on death row, given that the crime described in the article is far below the bar necessary to warrant capital punishment.

> let me state that I find it incredible that many people such as yourself believe that the CEO of a multimillion dollar company, who participated in a violent hate crime and avoided the consequences of his actions due to a sympathetic court and typo, is the victim in this whole affair.

And let me state that I find it incredible that many people such as yourself believe that people (especially teenagers) can't be victims of indoctrination, can't possibly feel genuine remorse for their mistakes as teenagers, and must be deprived of their rights forever because of those mistakes. I don't give the slightest sliver of a damn whether he's a CEO or a cashier. Morality is morality.

Comparing a crime that resulted in zero injuries or deaths to two men beating someone to death face-to-face is nonsensical. We can possibly argue intent (i.e. did Patton et. al. intend to actually kill people inside the synagogue), but it should be entirely unsurprising that someone who neither injured or killed someone went relatively unpunished due to said lack of injury or death, especially given that he was willing to plead guilty and testify against the other perpetrators.

Patton still did a shitty thing, but we have every indication that in the 30 years since then he's turned his life around and is genuine in his remorse. If there was evidence he continued to fraternize with skinheads even after that trial, especially recently, then by all means it's reasonable to be skeptical, but that doesn't seem to be the case.


> And let me state that I find it incredible that many people such as yourself believe that people (especially teenagers) can't be victims of indoctrination, can't possibly feel genuine remorse for their mistakes as teenagers, and must be deprived of their rights forever because of those mistakes.

If you are going to continue to attack a complete straw man of my arguments, I’m not sure how productive continuing this chain will be.

Your entire argument is predicated on 1) Damien, at almost 18 years of age, having absolutely no culpability for his actions, and 2) that he has shown genuine remorse for his actions, despite receiving essentially no punishment for a premeditated murder attempt and having shown no signs of remorse until he was asked to comment on the story. In other words, an entirely speculative argument that relies on your own personal character projections.

I would encourage you to extend the same level of generosity and charitableness you seem to show Damien Patton to the next person who challenges your worldview.


> If you are going to continue to attack a complete straw man of my arguments

It would be a strawman if the arguments against which I'm arguing were of my construction, but they don't seem to be.

> Your entire argument is predicated on 1) Damien, at almost 18 years of age, having absolutely no culpability for his actions, and 2) that he has shown genuine remorse for his actions, despite receiving essentially no punishment for a premeditated murder attempt and having shown no signs of remorse until he was asked to comment on the story.

Meanwhile, your entire argument appears to be predicated on 1) Damien, at less than 18 years of age and therefore legally and (arguably) psychologically a child, was somehow a perfectly rational actor with unquestionable culpability for his actions and was perfectly able to resist manipulation (which began, mind you, at 15, if not earlier) by adults wanting to use him as a tool for their hateful agendas, and 2) that he should be considered guilty of continued antisemitic beliefs/associations until proven innocent.

I won't pretend to know what that says about your personal character projections, but your argument is visibly just as speculative. Neither of us have enough information to judge that aspect of his character. Unlike you, apparently, I prefer forgiveness and the presumption of innocence in the absence of evidence to the contrary.

That's not to say that I don't judge him for being complicit in other immoralities, though (namely: being a current perpetrator of and accomplice to an unethical and likely-Constitutionally-illegal surveillance state, and his own resulting perpetration of such a state's implicit guilt-until-proven-innocence attitude).

> I would encourage you to extend the same level of generosity and charitableness you seem to show Damien Patton to the next person who challenges your worldview.

Like I said: I don't care who he is or how successful he became after apparently turning his life around. I just care that he apparently turned his life around and stopped associating with violently-antisemitic groups. If you have evidence indicating that he did not, then by all means present it and I'll gladly reassess.

And this is a standard I apply to all humans universally (both in theory and - as I grow older and hopefully more mature - increasingly in practice). I haven't exactly kept my attitudes and beliefs and opinions around rehabilitation-over-retribution and its impact on recidivism much of a secret over the years, whether here on HN and elsewhere on the World Wide Web.

I've given the benefit of the doubt to people who have done worse, specifically because I have the self-awareness to understand that people can and do change on the scale of decades (I know I've changed a lot in just one).

> I’m not sure how productive continuing this chain will be.

Neither am I.


I wonder if you and the rest of these commenters extend the same amount of compassion to the hundreds of thousands of non violent people stuck in prison that you do to the multimillionaire CEO of a state surveillance company. Someone who literally got away with shooting up a place of worship.

And if you do, great. Lets work towards fixing the mass incarceration problem in our country. That way, many more people can be given the same second chance that allowed Patton to attain a material wealth that vastly surpasses the overwhelming majority of humans on the planet.


> I wonder if you and the rest of these commenters extend the same amount of compassion to the hundreds of thousands of non violent people stuck in prison

Yes, I do, which is exactly why I'd much prefer we work against that issue instead of advocating for making the problem worse.

The American justice system has a chronic issue of prioritizing retribution over rehabilitation, and while I'm thankful to not have been a victim of that myself, I also recognize full well that I'm one of the lucky ones, and that millions of Americans (whether currently incarcerated, or having already "done the time" but still effectively-permanently handicapped from being productive members of society due to having a criminal record) are not so fortunate.


There are many literal children in jail, seriously injured, closed out from future gainful employment or dead for doing far less.


Indeed. I'd personally rather reduce that number instead of increase it, though.


I agree. At the same time I wonder if you would extend the same empathy towards a reformed jihadist? Or if you would, if it would receive the same up-votes here and elsewhere. It's certainly not an easy task, being the harbinger of universal forgiveness and second chances.


> At the same time I wonder if you would extend the same empathy towards a reformed jihadist?

I definitely would.

On that note, you'd might be surprised by the degree to which "jihadist" and "neo-Nazi" overlap, especially when the latter's of the Christian fundamentalist flavor; the Venn diagram more often than not ends up looking like a slightly-out-of-focus circle.


Tarek Mehanna might benefit.


Indeed. The situation's a little bit different - the alleged crimes happened somewhat more recently, and he was a couple years older than Patton was when he traveled to Yemen - but I'd be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Unfortunately, I'm just a random citizen with effectively no power to help, so that's probably cold comfort for him.


Can we follow up and send him some small violins with that?


>Eventually, I was able to get myself away from this world while serving in the United States Navy. This turned my life around. While serving my country, I worked with law enforcement agencies in hate group prosecutions and left this world behind

"The US Navy and law enforcement freed me from my racist past" is a bit difficult to believe.


It's really hard to be racist when your boss is Filipino and your coworker (who outranks you) is black and you're stuck in a small room with them all day long. You see pretty quickly that everyone is fundamentally the same and we all want the same things. Prejudice has a hard time surviving a strong dose of reality.

Sure, there are racists in the military, just like with every given set of people you could care to name. The Navy absolutely does not put up with it, though, and it's a career-ending mistake to act on any of those leanings.


It's easy to make that assumption if you haven't lived in those worlds yourself and only consume social media to give you an impression of what those communities are like.

You might be surprised, but the vast majority of law enforcement officers and soldiers are not, at all, racist.


[flagged]


Have you ever been in the military? From my time in the USMC, it was a meritocratic institution where your race was irrelevant, and overt racists wouldn't last long. Do you have any sources to back up the "strong ties to white nationalism" and plenty of likeminded KKK type racists?


In the Army, it seems racists were sniffed out early as possible.

I was a trainee leader (Asst Platoon Guide whatever that means). One of the "perks" of my leadership role was bunking with two racist assholes (one black one white) who naturally hated each other.

As soon as the drill instructors noticed the behavior of those two, all three of us were moved into a room. To keep an eye on them? Punish me? Who knows what the Army logic was.

Anyway, they both were chaptered out before completing training (AIT).

I am sure there a few racists but they must keep it on the downlow. The biggest problem I saw later was between Cuban Americans and Black Americans.


This is from the Military Times this year:

"More than one-third of all active-duty troops and more than half of minority service members say they have personally witnessed examples of white nationalism or ideological-driven racism within the ranks in recent months, according to the latest survey of active-duty Military Times readers."

From the article, "Signs of white supremacy, extremism up again in poll of active-duty troops"

https://www.militarytimes.com/news/pentagon-congress/2020/02...


> The vast majority... are not racist...

...and...

> more than half of minority service members say they have personally witnessed examples of white nationalism or ideological-driven racism...

These do not contradict. It only takes one person in one hundred to expose half the group to their racist ideas.

It's also not surprising that the most racist people are also the loudest.


The narrative in this thread is that, not only will serving in the military make you un-racist, but that those who continue to be racist will be expelled. The fact that most respondents who are people of color have personally witnessed racism in recent months indicates otherwise.

The burden of proof is on you to show that it's only "one person in a hundred" who exposes people to their racist ideas--and to explain why they are permitted to stay in the military if they "are also the loudest."


This is an impossible bar you're setting. People of color face racism in society in general. Where is your evidence that the military is so much worse that reforming a skinhead would be impossible?

Maybe you should stop looking for narratives, and start looking for truth.


This is a good starting point outlining some of the major incidents

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/27/us/military-white-nationa...

I don't expect the commanders still preach a racist creed like they did for the first ~150 years, but they still tend to just ignore soldier's ties to white supremacy. For example, the USMC finally outlawed the public display of the Confederate flag this month. And white supremacy groups have long viewed the armed forces as a useful training ground.


Is any of this worse than the rate of racism in society in general? How does this make it impossible that he reformed in the Navy?

30% of women and 17% of men in the US military are black. If there was rampant racism, I think we'd see a lot more trouble than the sources you've listed.


>Is any of this worse than the rate of racism in society in general? How does this make it impossible that he reformed in the Navy?

It's hard to believe he was able to "get away from this world" in the Navy, an institution where that world very much still existed. It may have happened, but it also sounds like using your time in the military to shield you from criticism.

>30% of women and 17% of men in the US military are black. If there was rampant racism, I think we'd see a lot more trouble than the sources you've listed

I was providing sources showing links with white supremacy, not racist events.


From the article:

> On the evening of June 9, 1990 — a month before Patton turned 18 — Patton and a Klan leader took a semi-automatic TEC-9 pistol and drove to a synagogue in a Nashville suburb. With Patton at the wheel, the Ku Klux Klan member fired onto the synagogue, destroying a street-facing window and spraying bullets and shattered glass near the building’s administrative offices, which were next to that of the congregation’s rabbi. No one was struck or killed in the shooting. Afterward, Patton hid on the grounds of a white supremacist paramilitary training camp under construction before fleeing the state with the help of a second Klan member.

Now, imagine that this same story had happened, but the young man 1 month from his 18th birthday was black. He would have been tried as an adult and put in jail for a long time. The justice system has a long and storied history of going easy on white supremacist hate crimes.


Reminds me of this article from ten years ago >> https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/nicolasmedinamora/did-t...


>>He would have been tried as an adult and put in jail for a long time.

Do you have evidence for this allegation of systemic racism?


While I'm having trouble picking any sides on this topic, surely you're being sarcastic about this, right?


That's an odd reaction for someone not picking a side.

If there is evidence of systemic racism in the criminal justice system, that needs to be brought to light, and fixing the problem needs to be made the highest political priority.

I believe there is absolutely no evidence of this at all.


Police and soldiers more commonly in my observation develop a type of cynicism or nihilism.


This person had these views before they entered, and that isn't uncommon.


Military training is a great equalizer and transplants people of all backgrounds into a new community that quickly adapts the values of their organization. Exposing a klansman to POC for long periods in such an environment certainly changes a lot in them, and some may be able to reflect upon their former wrongdoings. Certainly your hate for Jews may connect you to your klan. But wading through knee-high mud while being yelled at by your superiors with a small group is even more connecting.


Ouch. I'm sure this will destroy him financially and his reputation, but what if he actually turned his life around and is completely ashamed of this past? I don't want to come off like I support his past whatsoever, because I don't, but I feel there's no forgiveness left in our society to give people like this a second chance.

I guess I just believe people can change for the better and I want to encourage that more, rather than seeing people shunned after trying to become better and potentially being a danger to society once again as a result.


Forgiveness falls upon members of the public who read the story, not the press. I have no problem with this past being reported, especially given that he now runs what sounds like a large surveillance company. Being a successful CEO carries extra scrutiny that he might not have to deal with if he took a path with a lower profile.


I don't think random people in the public deserve an apology.

The people he hurt do. Since when does the general social media community deserve to be apologized to. People are getting an emotional power rush by forcing apologies from people who never transgressed against them.

This is poisonous behavior.


Shooting up a symbolic religious building is an indiscriminate hate crime. He intended to hurt more than just the specific individuals that were in the building at the time, he meant to make an entire community of people with a similar background afraid.


I think you misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting that the general social media community deserves to be apologized to.

The comment I replied to questioned whether publishing stories like this ruining people is right given the subject’s success and the public’s propensity to judge, which I didn’t agree with. It’s not the responsibility of the press to filter stories on compassionate or moral grounds, and there was nothing wrong IMO around its release.

I don’t believe that the public deserves an apology here, just as I don’t believe that journalists should refrain from publishing legitimate accounts of this kind of behavior, no matter how old.


>I don't think random people in the public deserve an apology.

They do, because he claims to serve the public by fulfulling government surveillance contracts.


It's lunacy. I have no idea about the man or who he is but 30-odd year old incidents should never ruin a person's career. This reeks of moral panic.


I agree with that, but would you extend that sympathy to e.g. people running for political office?


Yes? I do not see why that would be different.


I also agree, but it's a crazy world we live in and I don't know if most people feel the same when it's pointed towards a political opponent. We think the current President did questionable things in his past, but imagine what kind of dirty laundry will be revealed looking farther out into the future in the age of total & instant information... The entire life of future politicians from the time they were wearing diapers through adulthood will be documented in HD, geographically tracked, word-for-word. It will be interesting!


I don't necessarily disagree, but can one do anything that puts them past a point where society should afford them a chance at redemption? Does an individual always deserve to be given a second chance?


These are great questions. When I look at religious institutions (I'm thinking of the Catholic church, or the LDS church that I grew up in) there are formal ways to achieve absolution. I wonder if we need a secular version of that, other than "prison time"? (And even "prison time" typically carries life-long stigma, rather than absolution).


Absolution doesn't mean you ignore character traits, unless it's a simple society.


Nobody deserves one.

Yet something remarkable happens to all of us when people who don't deserve them, are given one.

Some people won't ever change....

The ones who will, will stun you. And we are all made better by the effort.


Yes


If a KKK recruiter and organizer can eventually renounce his past and go on to have a 50 year career as a legislator in DC, why can't this guy put his past behind him?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Byrd


Possible. Ultimately for Byrd, the voters decided. In this case, the market will decide.


Which market is that? He’s a powerful ceo. There’s no market for those, as such. The market can set prices for bread and orange juice, although that’s manipulated too, but it’s not like this guy was traded on some options market or something. He got the job by raising capital, knowing the right people, etc. not everything is a market.

Also, the products his company sells are not on offer to the public but to a small elite of powerful government and private officials, who definitely don’t care what the public thinks since all this can be shrouded in secrecy and ignored or denied.


This will likely have no effect on him or his career. We have white nationalists in all levels of public and private life, more or less out in the open, and almost nobody can do anything about it, and those who could, don’t care.


There are literally billions of people more deserving of his position in life than him. Sure, this applies to some extent to everyone, but given surveillance companies like the one he's built most disproportionately harm the blacks that he wanted 'elimination' of, it's maybe not the best to give him the corporate-equivalent of a loaded gun.

This assuredly won't destroy his finances. It probably won't absolutely kill his reputation; he's not the worst guy in the circles he runs in. That doesn't mean that suddenly others should respect him or give him the time of day, though.


People do change between being 17 and being adults. If you write about your life, knowing you are now a public figure, and leave this huge racist detail out, then the change is not enough.

We can't accept both that people change, and it's ok to lie about it to everyone.


Wait... so you expect people to walk around with a giant billboard on their chest reading "I used to be in the KKK"?

It's one thing for a person to atone for their mistakes. ...it's another more sinister thing to demand that they apologize to everyone perpetually.

I find these demands for public apologies disgusting in their own right. All these social media types demanding that they deserve an apology for someone else's historic transgression.

If you think about it - it's really just a power rush you get forcing people to cow to you.


He's been lying. He practically wrote a book about it and lied about that part. You invented the part about forced apologies - I didn't say that.


...and what any of this have to do with you? Why do you think you deserve to be apologized to?

...for a crime you were not a party to. ...at a time you likely weren't even born.

Ask yourself what emotional chasm are you trying to fill to get people you've never met to apologize to you.


Not writing about a 2? year period that happened 32 years ago isn't lying.


> It's one thing for a person to atone for their mistakes.

It sounds more like he tried covering up his mistakes once he became a public figure, which was his decision. He could’ve acknowledged it during any of his media appearances, which would’ve allowed him to discuss the issue on his own terms instead of letting a devastating article dictate the tone of his past. He chose to hide it instead.

There’s nothing wrong with publishing this kind of information, it’s absolutely in the public interest when a CEO of a successful company was involved in white nationalism. Nobody is explicitly demanding an apology, the public just demands to know these things.


Why can't you accept that? People change and people can still be afraid that if everyone knew what they did as a teenager they'd be attacked relentlessly. Lying is exactly the correct thing to do when living in an unreasonable world.


Lying because you're afraid of an unreasonable world... That's your argument? Lying because of fear doesn't make it right. I think we fundamentally disagree on values and maturity levels that adults should aspire to.


What if telling the truth could bring harm to your family, who had nothing to do with it, but omitting the truth would harm no one?


> Lying is exactly the correct thing to do when living in an unreasonable world.

I suppose this mindset could be an ingredient for a CEO that wins. But there's a difference between forgiveness and credibility of character, and credibility is part of a CEO's job.

What Damien did was drive white supremacists to a synagogue shoot-up, and in the Navy he continued to befriend white supremacists. All these matters affect credibility, and credibility is part of the CEO's job, and hence why Banjo is being distracted right now.


A CEO of a surveillance company clearly has not turned their life around.


That probably has more to do with having been in the military...


It doesn't change the fact that it is fundamentally a bad thing, because it will be used mostly for nefarious ends.

I'd probably have a leg up selling anti-personnel mines to the US military if I were a former officer, but using this advantage would be unethical (because land mines are fundamentally evil).


I think that's a little bit of a strawman argument. Surveillance has its time and place, especially when used to deter crime or bring justice to really bad people out there. That's like saying Kevin Mitnick didn't turn his life around when he started consulting.


>especially when used to deter crime or bring justice to really bad people out there

At what point does the vague goal of "deter crime" start to infringe on privacy? We're already seeing this happen and it's a bullshit argument, frankly.


I disagree. It looks like he got this experience because of the work he did against the skinheads.


It's hard to judge someone for doing something stupid at 17 when there's adverse influences around them. But Damien Patton wasn't 17 when he did this-

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/z3bgky/banjo-ai-used-secr...

That should be illegal. Are there not any laws against this?


>But once users logged into the innocent looking apps via a social network OAuth provider, Banjo saved the login credentials, according to two former employees and an expert analysis of the apps performed by Kasra Rahjerdi, who has been an Android developer since the original Android project was launched. Banjo then scraped social media content, those two former employees added. //

CMA (UK)/CFAA (USA) both make unauthorised access a crime, so, yes there are laws against this.


Many livelihoods in tech depend on the surveillance economy. There are some laws, but they're not enough. Everyone I know that works for companies like this is able to justify it with their paycheck or the cool project they are working on. Ethics are never a consideration and the law is someone else's problem.


Nothing in that article is illegal, and comparing it to Cambridge Analytica is a huge stretch.

Most of it reads like run-of-the-mill data collection.


"Typos on records connected to Brown and Armstrong’s case — first a misspelling of Patton’s first name, Damien, as “Damion” in an initial affidavit of probable cause; then, in subsequent filings, spelling Damien as “Damian” — have helped prevent the discovery of Patton’s full biography for the past 30 years."

How remarkably lucky for him.

It is striking that such luck, and second chances, are rarely afforded young men of color who find themselves on the other side of the law in this country.


Agreed. This hate crime was committed 1 month from his 18th birthday. A defendant that wasn't white would have been tried as an adult and thrown in jail for years.


What a moving redemption arc! Going from guerilla acts of racism to making a company that aids in institutional racism.


This just in:

Utah Attorney General suspends state contract with Banjo in light of founder’s KKK past

https://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2020/04/28/utah-attorne...

Discussion on HN

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23012144


Tough situation. I can understand him trying to hide the mistakes in his youth. I certainly wouldn’t want to be haunted by whatever idiotic things I did or said as a kid, although they definitely were nowhere near what this guy was doing.

Admitting such things before building a career would instantly be a non-starter. I also think as a society we have to acknowledge that rehabilitation and forgiveness needs to be possible, especially for mistakes we make as kids. The mob seems to want people like this to be disappeared, which is unfortunate for a country so influenced by Christianity, in which forgiveness is a prime value.

On the other hand, this guy seems to have really been a subscriber to some bad, dangerous ideas, and more importantly, he doesn’t seem to have done much to atone for it. Donating to the synagogue, getting involved with the community or somehow seeking forgiveness by acknowledging his mistakes would have been better than just hiding it.

He didn’t need to do anything public that would dig up the past either: I imagine he could have donated or helped the synagogue in an pseudonymous way. Certainly the people he hurt would be far more willing to defend his rehabilitation now if he had done so.


> I imagine he could have donated or helped the synagogue in an pseudonymous way

How do you know he hasn’t donated anonymously?

> Certainly the people he hurt would be far more willing to defend his rehabilitation now if he had done so.

I think “I did some donations” would be perceived as self-serving, or would simply be cynically attacked.

Your comments feel would be damned either way.


Now would be the time to mention that he’s been donating to the synagogue for X years. If donations are too cold and abstract, then starting an organization that fights hate, or somehow getting involved seems doable. He is a wealthy person and had the resources for it.


Yes, people deserve second chances. No, they can't become C.E.O.'s because C.E.O.'s are effectively unelected government officials of the United States and the same criterion that says it's a bad idea to let him run for president means it's a bad idea to have him continue being C.E.O.. It's not like "bad man become good and pays back debt to society as a small-time business owner" because of the power differential. Interesting story though.

But if you deny people second-chances, then said criminals have no incentive to make amends. If they cannot make amends due to it being absurd, then society should be prepared to reduce them to menial slavery... because that's the only other way to prevent them from continuing the bad behavior (given that society made it impossible for him to move on from the past).

I have discovered that there are exactly three objectively unforgivable offenses:

1. Inducing another human to despair thereby depriving him of a right to a future.

2. Accusation with the intent of marring another human's soul with eternal guilt.

3. The deliberate and intentional reduction of another human being to slavery.

Notice that being a murderer isn't one of them.


>because C.E.O.'s are effectively unelected government officials of the United States

This is a really, really interesting take on it. I happen to agree, but if they're public officials, then how do we square the absolutely massive incentives to action at the expense of the public good?



The panopticon-as-a-service product Banjo is hawking right now is way more disturbing than the past rantings of the company's founder.


I don't know if this is better or worse in that respect, but I have been following Banjo since 2017 and I'm pretty convinced that the product Banjo is hawking is basically vaporware[1], and that Banjo is actually in the business of defrauding state and local governments (and Softbank of course, but that goes without saying).

If you look at the press releases and publicity Banjo has released as well as the talks Damien Patton has given, their big success story stems from a trial run in 2013 where the Utah CPS ran a simulation of a child kidnapping and Banjo identified the probable location of the (simulated) kidnapper. Since then, there has been nothing.

Meanwhile Patton's message has continually evolved in perfect lockstep with the hype cycle, from mass shootings to the opioid crisis to, these days, some mysterious power to provide predictive security while still protecting individual privacy.

[1] He probably has a reasonable social media/text analytics product with some geographic aggregation. But it's hard to separate from the promises because no one has actually seen it.


Another instance of Softbank investing in toxic management and people with past or current criminal behavior. Clearly management team due diligence isn't relevant to their investing strategy.


I think there are three problems with the title:

1. Clickbait exploitation.

2. Conflating people who have sought redemption from past deeds with those who are jerks for other reasons.

3. Social fascism isn't the proper response to actual fascism. Throwing people away, instantly and permanently, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck. If people "can never change" when they clearly have, this isn't the sign of a decent, functional, nuanced, or tolerant society in touch with the meaning of words or self-awareness.

cultus 39 days ago [flagged]

It's pretty obvious that this new account is not arguing in good faith, but I'll take a stab anyway.

1. It's a literal description of what happened. He admitted to being a neo-nazi terrorist.

2. He has not sought redemption in any meaningful way, but has instead started a surveillance company. That his conduct has continued to be abusive just shows it is a permanent lack of moral character.

3. I think you might need to adjust your definition of fascism. The "social fascism" you describe dilutes the word of all meaning, which is probably your intent.

He helped commit a terrorist act at the age of 17, and continued to be associated with Nazis for some time after. A tolerent and open society means that we cannot tolerate these kinds of people running surveillance companies with government contracts. The reasoning should be obvious. See also, Popper's paradox of tolerance.


[flagged]


It's cool. People gonna people. And as civilization rips itself apart, it's easier and more convenient for most to find scapegoats, be divided-and-conquered, lose touch with reasonableness, and/or bikeshed than seek solidarity, strategy, and reason.

"In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act"." - Orwell


I think softbank largely made up for it by giving free millions to wework's Israeli Adam Neumann. It really shows their lack of due diligence on both cases.


It's not every day that you read such an article about a person you know and worked for more than a year.

I'm not excusing any of his behavior in youth, although I believe he feels very bad about it, but the person I know has definitely evolved from the distorted personality described in the article. It is possible, please see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSH5EY-W5oM.

The time I worked at Banjo was a great experience and still think he's one of the most skilled founders I've ever met. Great sales skills and tech chops. I was an immigrant and have always been treated with respect. At the same time it isn't surprising for me to read a comment like the other one on here about working at Banjo: with such a strong personality at the head of the company it can be like that for some, but I wouldn't consider it very different from other SV realities like FB or Amazon.

Sad that he participated in those crimes, and hope this becoming public can bring him to give back more to the community.


This makes me think of the movie The Believer.


It's so interesting how these surveillance/data-gathering companies (Palantir, Banjo, Anduril) are founded by right-wing types. Professed small government libertarians building that very same government's intelligence apparatus for profit. It's exactly this double-speak on government and individual liberty that makes minorities distrustful of conservatives.


Small-government libertarians in my experience are really ok with big-defense. They are the sort who fund NSA and it's incessant attempts to vacuum up all internet data, spy on all people, etc. They rarely understand that those same powers might be turned against us all as easily as flipping a switch. It is a blindness that has always baffled me, especially since we have more proof everyday that that switch has already been flipped.


> It is a blindness

It's very much not a blindness. They just look out for n.1 first and foremost; everything else is a philosophical veneer to justify their instincts.


Because what small government really means is eliminating social safety nets and publicly beneficial programs, and focusing on protecting corporate profits above all else.


This exactly.


> Small-government libertarians in my experience are really ok with big-defense.

I don't know who you're talking to, but the national Libertarian Party has always been against domestic surveillance and foreign wars. Unlike the Democrats or Republicans, it is the official position of the Libertarian Party that FISA courts should be ended[1] and that the CIA should be abolished.[2] The Libertarian Party also wants to pardon Snowden[3] and Ulbricht[4].

1. https://www.lp.org/libertarians-congress-stop-government-spy...

2. https://www.lp.org/news-press-releases-libertarian-party-cal...

3. https://twitter.com/lpnational/status/1037392054559690753

4. https://www.lp.org/free_ross/


> right-wing types

What you perceive to be the right wing, possibly. Some would call these types 'Neocons' or 'RHINOs' implying they're not actually conservative, they're authoritarian statists. This is why there was the 'tea party' deal a few years ago.

Many people actually do believe in smaller government and individual liberty, but the media likes to point out the crazies and the statists as proof that all 'conservatives' are bad, immoral people. So far, their propaganda is working.

Edit: Spelling


Whenever I see someone publicly talking about smaller government, I look at their actions and see that they are really talking about eliminating public welfare and expanding corporate welfare. Fiscally, every R in DC is a neoconservative. They hold their traditionally conservative social positions simply to secure voters who would otherwise have no reason to vote for neoconservative policies that are often against their own economic interests. I doubt Mitch McConnell actually believes in any of his social policy stances, they just exist to drum up votes to keep Rs in office to pass neoconservative economic bills.

For example, when Republicans have DC strangled, they still don't make serious efforts to ban abortion despite their rhetoric over the past 50 years. Why would they? That's one of their best wedges to divide the voting block of the working class. If they actually banned abortion, they would lose a talking point at best, and swaths of single issue voters at worst. The tea party movement is another great example. Funded by conservative groups like the Koch brothers under the guise of a grass roots movement. It strengthened support among the R base, some new faces appeared in DC, but the overall economic ideology of the republican party did not change. The Republican party is powerful in this country, most of all because it is a single beast where every member from the highest to the lowest office tows the party line.


> The Republican party is powerful in this country, most of all because it is a single beast where every member from the highest to the lowest office tows the party line.

I know of another party that operates in a similar fashion.

> Fiscally, every R in DC is a neoconservative

No argument here. But we were talking about 'conservatives' rather than a particular political party. Parties have done a great job at branding themselves towards different viewpoints, even if their actions don't match the branding.

I'm a one issue voter. I will never vote or support someone that voted for the Iraq war, I will never vote for someone that supports any ongoing foreign military intervention of any kind. My options, as you might imagine, are quite limited.

Strangely, killing people overseas is not the #1 issue in the US when it comes to politics. People are selfish, immoral idiots that don't actually care about others.

Here's a political platform I could get behind: States decide what's best for themselves when it comes to social and economic issues, end all wars, remove military from all foreign outposts, keep all warships within our international waters.


I'm with you on the military. I think its the biggest waste of budget we have, personally. Vietnam should have been the death knell of an overinflated military seeing as we failed to subdue farmers with rusty weapons, and continue to fail against farmers with 50 year old weaponry today. At least with the democrats there is a lot more heterogeneity in political opinion, although I'm jaded by the lack of imagination from the national office.

California is a great example of the heterogeneity of the democratic party. Most state and local politicians are democrats in name only. Sure, they support democratic social platforms like not being discriminatory to marginalized groups, who wouldn't? But looking at policy positions regarding land use and the role of public government, many hold very conservative positions. This is still the land of Reagan, and his politics never really went away even if the Rs seemed to disappear from ballots.

I think it's interesting to look at the different types of democratic voters in CA. Nationally, Bloomberg was sort of a DINO candidate. Take a look at the vote breakdown (1). I know LA so I'll give an overview for that city. Sanders held working class areas including neighborhoods with the highest population density in all of LA county, the region along Vermont Ave. from the 10 freeway to the hollywood hills. Biden was a mixed bag, drawing a lot of support from predominantly Black areas due to the association with Obama, but also from upper class white areas in the south bay such as manhattan beach, hermosa beach, and redondo beach. Support for Bloomberg only was found in some of the wealthiest zip codes like Brentwood and Beverly Hills, as you might expect given his positions.

1. https://www.latimes.com/projects/2020-california-primaries-p...


While spending is an important part of being against war, it's not really the leading reason. Vietnam did change a lot. No more graphic reporting, no more hard hitting journalism after that. The Pentagon approves which reporters get to embed and how the story is going to go. The only real reporting now is from leaked footage of war crimes that we through someone in prison for.

> Nationally, Bloomberg was sort of a DINO candidate.

I don't agree. I think he's the prototypical national Democrat. Rich, well connected, wants to expand state powers. Supports well fare and broad taxation, supports war.


So an admitted Nazi might lose his shitty and unceative startup for wanting genocid

Let me find the world's tiniest violin.

To take a page from southpark. He fuck off


What is the significance of SoftBank financing this business?


It shows they don't vet their CEOs very well.


Or they were aware, and they conclude that someone's behavior as a homeless 17 year old has little if any bearing on their aptitude in running a company 30 years later.


"But although the cliche says that power always corrupts, what is seldom said ... is that power always reveals. When a man is climbing, trying to persuade others to give him power, concealment is necessary. ... But as a man obtains more power, camouflage becomes less necessary.”


You expect them to go through 30-year old records on their creditors? Have you ever gotten a loan that required interviews with the people you went to high-school with?!?!


I mean, you're not getting millions of dollars of funding. Also, people get rejected from 100k house loans for much less than this...


Yes. And for routine security clearances, people I went to school with are certainly interviewed or at least scrutinized.


If a company's investing 100m in a company where directors likely need security clearances etc (I mean, I don't know if they do, but given the industry I would assume so), then, er, yeah, I'd expect a pretty thorough background check.


...and they probably do do a background check - one that he would have PASSED.


Well it was obvious after WeWork.


Yuck. Why is there so much discussion about this cretin?


Thank goodness the title mentions it is Softbank backed, otherwise I would have missed some good Softbank bashing.


It's really hard to come up with neutral titles for a story this inflammatory. I changed it from the article's main title in the hope that it would have less of a less extreme effect on the thread (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23011234). But I missed the fact that the subtitle also included a different sort of flamebait.

One consistent lesson of moderating an internet forum is that titles dominate discussion virtually completely.


[flagged]


That's an incredibly dangerous mentality, as it tells people currently in those situations that all is lost and that they can never participate in the rest of society again, so why bother? I think it's important to give sincere people a path to redemption, not because I have any sympathy for nazis, but because I want to have fewer of them around.

Really, you could say the same about criminals, drug dealers, gang members, and anyone else with a terrible back story. I want those people to get out of those lifestyles and become productive contributors to civil society. If we tell them they're beyond hope, then their numbers can only increase over time as people join but then never leave.


Or, we reject them from society and younger folks learn it's not okay to be a Nazi.


[flagged]


It matters, and is in the public interest, because he runs a surveillance company whose clients include governments. Of course, to you, not supporting eugenics or the extermination of the Jewish race is just a matter of opinion.

Comments like these show that individuals with these horrendous beliefs are everywhere, including all over Hacker News and the tech industry at large. Hacker New's moderators would do well to focus on these bad-faith actors instead of flagging anti-hate content.


Why the hell was this post flagged?


Users flagged it. We can only guess why users flag things, but I suppose the sensationalism of the material, the high charge in the title, and the poor quality of the thread were factors. The thread also set off the HN flamewar detector.

I've turned off the flags for now and replaced the title with a less sensational subheading in the hope that that might support more substantive discussion, though it probably won't. (Edit: well maybe it is.)


I rarely visit HN anymore because of shit like this, but I decided to check back over here to see what everyone had to see. not surprised


I guess we have to wait for the arstechnica writeup so it can get posted and discussed.


A lot of hate in this anti-hate post.


Anything critical of the far-right tends to wind up flagged on HN. It's reflective of the overall industry.


It's amazing how anything that disagrees with far-left seems to get painted as far-right.

This guy literally worked with the FBI to bust skinheads.


What industry?


Because the mods at HN believe that shaming people for past actions doesn't promote "intellectual curiosity" or some equally inane non-reason.

Considering it was on the front page, now doesn't appear 4 pages deep just minutes later, a mod clearly nuked this.


"Clearly" is an interesting word to use for something that you've imagined.

The submission was "nuked" by user flags and the software known as the flamewar detector or overheated discussion detector.


I apologize for my assertion, however there is a decided lack of transparency around issues like this that definitely contributed to my thoughts on the topic.

Not sure how to balance transparency on HN's moderation with the fact trolls and bad faith actors will abuse it.


Well, we're always happy to answer specific questions and there's no question we aren't willing to answer. In that sense I feel like we're pretty transparent. It's true that there's no facility that publishes a log of everything that happens, but that's for reasons I've discussed many times (and could probably dig up links to if you care).


dang, does it ever make you feel sad that so many HN users will apparently defend Nazis, KKK members, and other white supremacists regardless of the circumstances or severity of their crimes? Like, do you ever kind of throw up your hands and wonder why you’re spending so much effort maintaining “civil discourse” as users cheerfully spout Stormfront forum talking points right in front of you?


This does not feel like a genuine question. But yes: many things make me feel sad about HN. It's a dismaying mess.

I'd be careful about jumping to conclusions. If you see an egregious comment that ought to be moderated and hasn't been, the likeliest explanation is that we didn't see it. https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que...

"Civil" is not the guiding value here. We took that word out of the guidelines because, as I pointed out a year ago, its main effect was to make people think we have dumb ideas about civility. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19663839


Interesting story that the ethnically Jewish CEO was a neo-Nazi.


Sounds like he suffered a level of abuse as a child that might have helped him go down that road. And his mother's Jewish heritage may have been the target for reasons we can only speculate (perhaps the abuse was at her hands?).

Given the depth of his past involvement in white supremacist terrorism, though, he should probably explain himself publicly, given his current success and public profile.


reminiscent of the The Believer https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Believer_(film)


In the history there were plenty of Jews who were trading and killing other Jews as well as Nazi soldiers who were saving Jews.

paulie_a 39 days ago [flagged]

Well Hitler was Jewish


If you post flamebait to HN like this again we will ban you. This thread was wretched enough without heading into this circle of hell.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


No, he wasn't


He’s referring to the idea that Hitler may have been a quarter Jewish. Not sure where this study from 10 years ago ended up:

https://www.history.com/news/study-suggests-adolf-hitler-had...

There were a lot of articles about that and here’s a recent one:

https://m.jpost.com/diaspora/study-suggests-adolf-hitler-was...


Questionable evidence that his grandmother might have had an illegitimate child with a Jewish man is a long way from "Hitler was jewish"

Not to mention this is standard ahistorical conspiracy theory fare.


It’s fine to point out it’s questionable. Both of you were just throwing at one-liners with no substance like you’re fighting on a playground. I rarely downvote and thought about downvoting him but I decided to search to see what he might be talking about. You didn’t even look at my links, otherwise you would’ve known the first one was talking about a DNA study. Yes, as far as I can see it was very much up in the air, but I don’t think I should be downvoted for explaining what he was referring to.


Thank you, I read the links and yes my absolute assertion may be wrong.


> Both of you were just throwing at one-liners with no substance

Welcome to HN - the new Reddit.



It doesn't seem to be working. ...much like the Reddit guidelines.


Yes he was. He had an entire city destroyed to attempt to hide that historical fact.


Indeed, 'twas the city of Gralås, oft have I ambled it's cobbled streets in days gone by, smelling the sweet scent of the herb the soothsayers smoke thereon and listened to the ramblings of their visions.

Once I loved a woman there, her skin was red as the fires of the volcano of Taris.

Once I dueled with a man in the foggy morn at the royal park, I killed him, it was a fight over honor and I barely remember the particulars now.

But all that is gone, destroyed years past, you sir, are a scholar of deep erudition to remember the name of Gralås in this degraded age.


Sadly, I'd expect this from hacker news commenters.


HN gets millions of comments a year. You should expect to find all kinds of junk in any set of that size.

The problem is that people (all of us) are more likely to notice and remember the things they dislike. That basically causes everyone's image of the community to turn into a reflection of their own dislikes—and the more strongly you dislike something, the more vivid the image will be. It's a serious problem and I don't know what to do about it.

https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que...

But it's definitely not the case that the HN readership generally supports a comment like the GP. Note that the comment was maximally downvoted.


We don't know it was true. We know he makes the claim that his mother was Jewish, but who knows?


We also don't know it's not true.

That's why we require evidence before we reject someone's claims.


What? We require evidence before we accept claims, not before we reject them.


No, it depends you see, when minorities claim police misconduct, those claims require evidence before we accept them. In the case of a 'former' Neo-Nazi claiming Jewish heritage we accept the claim without evidence.


But this was a claim about someone else. Let's hear from his mother. If I said something about you should the claim be believed until proven false?


This was a person's claim about themselves. If you have no evidence to the contrary, you obviously cannot accuse them of guilty of being dishonest.


This was so long ago and he hasn’t killed anyone or done any thing of the sort since then. Who cares ? It is up to the system to deal with him


"the system" has given life sentences to people for marijuana charges while people who literally helped a hate group shoot at minorities go free. The system is broken, and i assure you, plenty of people care


>"the system" has given life sentences to people for marijuana charges

No it hasn't.


http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/life-prison-selling-marijuana-peo... (after a 5s google) suggests you're wrong.


Craig Cesal. Dale Wayne Green. Terrance Mosley.


> This was so long ago and he hasn’t killed anyone or done any thing of the sort since then. Who cares ? It is up to the system to deal with him

His company, Banjo, was awarded surveillance contracts for the state of Utah. The state was paying Banjo tens of millions of dollars and giving them access to untold amounts of state surveillance data.

As a resident of Utah, I do not want my tax dollars sending surveillance data about me to a company founded and run by a white supremacist who assisted in shooting up a synagogue and then admitted to continuing his white supremacist associations long after the conviction.


Well as a resident of Utah, you may not have as much to worry about anymore.

Utah Attorney General suspends state contract with Banjo in light of founder’s KKK past

https://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2020/04/28/utah-attorne...


A lot of people care, in general, if money they pay - or which is acquired by virtue of their custom (eg money a company gets by unlawfully mining 'clients' social data, as appears to be the case here) - goes then to fund malevolent actions such as racist violence.

The subject here, Patton, may be reformed, but there's a substantial possibility they are not and are using their ill-gotten money to fund further hate crime, or other anti-social racist activity.


> but there's a substantial possibility

You have zero evidence of that. Anything is "substantially possible" if your bar for evidence is non-existent.


People can change, and he was a kid from an abusive home per the article.


He runs a fucking surveillance company.

No one is suggesting we throw him in jail for being involved in a fucking KKK drive-by shooting, just that maybe he not run _a fucking surveillance company_.


As the article repeatedly states, Patton proceeded to continue his association with white supremacist groups during his time in the U.S. Navy. Shockingly, white supremacist does not stop white supremacisting. Film at 11.


"I had known some of the Skinheads there from prior rallies in Tennessee and because of not knowing anybody there, I ended up meeting with them and hung out with them for some time," he said.

Isn't it human nature to reach for familiarity when in new places? You're reaching.


Human nature to reconnect with Nazis? I dunno--if I had a friend who was self-avowed hostis humanis generis they would by definition no longer be my friend.

But this is your schtick, so continue to perform it.


"my schtick"? Jesus, you can't talk about stuff online anymore.


Better hope the algorithm he programmed isn’t racist.

https://onezero.medium.com/how-tech-algorithms-become-infect...


Society will generally forgive people of the things they do while young, even heinous things, provided they’re open and remorseful about what happened. But when you hide it there’s usually an opposite effect. Seems this founder is about the learn about that the hard way.


Why not hide it? If you did something very stupid at 17, something of which there is public record for everyone to find with a background check, do you still have to go around telling it to everyone for the rest of your life?

You have paid for your stupidity and life goes on. In this case life has certainly moved on and it doesn't seem like he is secretly creating a 4th reich in his free time.

Of course if you can do something easy to hide it like spelling your name better great. It has been a long time, but some people don't seem to understand this and seem to want criminals to be punished forever.

Why bother about this?


>Why not hide it?

Integrity.


Are you suggesting this founder should have been more public about his past? Based on what is being reported he seems to have pulled himself up by his bootstraps and made something of himself under terrible circumstances. He has clearly done good and that is what people will judge. His bad decision doesn't define him, yet you would have him tell everyone so that he reaches your bar of being "open and remorseful."


It also doesn't bode well that he's also entered a fundamentally evil business as an adult. Just shows an absolute rotten moral character.

KKK supporters and such can be redeemed, but it takes work and reflection.


> Patton was charged with — and pled guilty to—acts of juvenile delinquency in connection to the incident

Edit: as the getaway driver. Seems like a strange charge to bring up for the incident.


*On the evening of June 9, 1990 — a month before Patton turned 18 — Patton and a Klan leader took a semi-automatic TEC-9 pistol and drove to a synagogue in a Nashville suburb. With Patton at the wheel, the Ku Klux Klan member fired onto the synagogue, destroying a street-facing window and spraying bullets and shattered glass near the building’s administrative offices, which were next to that of the congregation’s rabbi. No one was struck or killed in the shooting. Afterward, Patton hid on the grounds of a white supremacist paramilitary training camp under construction before fleeing the state with the help of a second Klan member."

Paragraph 6 in the linked article.


The charges seem comparatively light, even for the adults, for an act of terrorism and conspiracy to murder (although fortunately not succeeding).


From the paragraph before your quote:

> With Patton at the wheel, the Ku Klux Klan member fired onto the synagogue, destroying a street-facing window and spraying bullets and shattered glass near the building’s administrative offices, which were next to that of the congregation’s rabbi.


It's in the article. He was the driver.


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