I just had the misfortune to read the following:

“Would you accept a good PR for Hitler?” -> well, for me, if it’s good code, why not?

This was written by somebody deliberately invoking an extreme example in their argument that we ought to “leave politics at the door” when it comes to tech, but it’s a sentiment that I have seen repeated too many times over the past few days.

I can’t help but notice that pleas to leave politics at the door are almost invariably uttered by people like me: white, male, secure in our positions.

So yes, the person who wrote that was being deliberately extreme by using Hitler as an example, but let’s run with it.

Let’s be very generous and assume the best. Let’s say that the contributor in question, despite being a genocidal ghoul, is going to be on their best behaviour. No inciting violence in repository issues. No hateful rhetoric in code reviews. No fascist imagery in giant ASCII code comments.

Do you really not see how working alongside this person might make someone uncomfortable?

Put yourself in the shoes of someone Hitler doesn’t like very much. It’s a big list, so this step shouldn’t take a lot of imagination. Now imagine that you and Hitler are contributing to the same project. You check your e-mails and see their name. They’re reviewing your code. They’re talking to your friends. You have to trust them to be impartial and leave their attempts to harm you to outside of project hours.

Imagine that if you speak up about how horrible this feels, you get told to pipe down. Gosh, why do you have to make this so political?

Now imagine that the other people on the project are perfectly happy to work with them. He writes good code, so his presence doesn’t bother them. Boy, they sure are getting along. Just Hitler and other members of your community. Getting along like a house on fire.

The fact that he doesn’t view you as a person isn’t important because it’s not relevant to the project. Don’t bring it up. You’re making it political.

And that’s the best case, where your antagonist doesn’t use their influence in the project to harm you. The best case.

Must feel real good.