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My Solemn Duty as an Engineer:
On Racism

Michael David Crawford, Consulting Software Engineer
Solving The Software Problem
mdcrawford@gmail.com

December 13, 2011

Copyright © 2011 Michael David Crawford

I just turned down what would have been quite a lucrative contract to develop a Mac OS X device driver for a hardware manufacturer in Tucson, Arizona. Following is my email to the recruiter I was working through, as well as to the client's engineering manager.

It was not easy to write this letter, or even to reach the decision to write it, as I really do need the work.

I'm very sorry, I really am, but I've got some bad news for both you. Please understand that I do understand that none of this is the fault either of your companies, your coworkers or of yourselves personally.

I was reminded of the Arizona Anti-Immigration law by the front page of today's New York Times. The United States Supreme Court just agreed to hear the Obama Administration's lawsuit seeking to overturn it. ("Court to Weigh Arizona Statute on Immigration", The New York Times, Tuesday, December 13 2011, page 1.)

The fact that I am such a good software engineer, and that my work has been so very highly regarded and for so long, has a lot more to do with my ethics than any amount of experience or education. I write good code because I feel that is the right thing to do, but I am also quite widely known for resigning in storms of fiery protest when my employers, clients or colleagues act unethically, do not represent the interests of our end-users, or threaten the lives, health or safety of the public.

My colleauges quite commonly criticize me for failing to be a "Team Player". But I regard my failure to be a Team Player as quite likely the most valuable contribution I will EVER be able to make to society.

We would all be better off if there were fewer Team Players. Consider for example that during the 1930s, many "Guter Deutschers" - that was the German term for "Team Player" back in the day - failed to heed the dictates of their consciences and so not only failed to stop but actually encouraged Hitler's rise to power.

For that reason, I cannot in good conscious set foot in the State of Arizona, purchase any product manufactured in Arizona, avail myself of any service performed in Arizona, or contribute in any way to the success of any business in Arizona until that appallingly racist law is overturned by the United States Supreme Court, or, failing that, the people of Arizona Get A God Damn Clue about the incredibly selfless contributions that the proud, beautiful and hard-working Latin American people make to the economy, culture, and society of the United States of America.

I am not at all Hispanic myself but many of those I am close to are. I spent most of my life in predominantly Hispanic parts of California. I live in the Pacific Northwest now but there are many Hispanic people here as well.

Two of the greatest loves of my life were fiery, hot-blooded Latin Lovers. The first true love I ever knew was French and Spanish; the finest love I have ever known, while a born-and-raised American Citizen, was the full-blooded Mexican daughter of two immigrant farm workers from the Central Valley of California.

She looks just like an Aztec Princess, and has no need to carry any kind of immigration document on her person, but if she lives in Arizona rather than California she would be subjected to harassment under the color of authority, and quite likely deported to Mexico for no other reason than that she has olive skin and an Aquiline nose.

That's Just Wrong.

Only once have I been called upon to do my duty as an engineer yet failed to heed the dictates of my conscience.

I resigned in protest from a highly paid position as a Principal Software Engineer at Applied Micro Circuits Corporation of Sunnyvale, California, California. They knew very well that I was getting ready to go to the press over management refusal to test our 3ware 9690SA hardware RAID controllers under the same software configuration as our end-users actually used, despite my having quite sternly pointed out all kinds of ways that such inadequate testing could lead to end-user data loss, or even the loss of human life.

The company was able to purchase my silence for thirty-five thousand dollars as I was then still providing for my ex-wife, and had no other job prospects. I was furious to learn a few months later that AMCC had sold its entire 3ware hardware RAID division to LSI. I cannot be certain, but I expect that my thirty-five thousand dollar "severance pay" was meant to prevent LSI from ever finding out that their Quality Assurance and device driver development practices were not up to industry standards.

For that reason, despite never having violated any manner of legal contract in my entire life, I recently decided that despite the fact that AMCC will no doubt haul me into court, and I have no hope whatsoever of defending myself in that court, I will soon raise all manner of Hell about my former employer's ethical lapse.

But you can be certain that I will return every penny of my severance pay. I NEVER should have accepted it, and am still quite deeply ashamed that I ever did.

My Letter of Resignation follows below.

I had no idea that I would receive a penny of severance when I wrote that letter. I did not expect it and I did not ask for it. It was only after I resigned that their Senior Human Resource Manager Sue Depositar offered it to me. Had I spent more time considering her offer than just the few minutes remaining during my Exit Interview, I expect I would have refused it.

I must reiterate that I do not blame Arizona's Institutional Racism in any way on either of you two gentlemen, on $AGENCY, on $CLIENT or on any of those who work for either of your fine companies. I know very, very well that many Arizona residents are doing everything in their power to overturn the Arizona anti-immigration law, and hope the two of you will find some way to do your part.

I am of course happy to continue working with both of you provided that by doing so, I do not contribute in any way to the economic prosperity of Arizona during the time that the state persists in its foolhardy course.

Ever Faithful,

Michael David Crawford, CEO
Dulcinea Technologies Corporation
Software of Elegance and Beauty

Tilting at Windmills for a Better Tomorrow.

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