Congressman Will Hurd, a former CIA officer with extensive interest in cybersecurity (unlike other people), has been disinvited from delivering the keynote address at a cybersecurity conference because of his pro-life views.
After organizers of this year’s Black Hat USA conference selected Hurd to serve as the keynote speaker, critics began claiming that the Southern Baptist congressman’s religiously based views on abortion were contradictory to so-called “diversity” and “inclusion.”
Why would this even matter? Because, they claimed, “diversity” and “inclusion” are more “urgent” to cybersecurity than actual cybersecurity …
Diversity and inclusion is one of the most urgent matters in cybersecurity, but Black Hat seems to be sticking to its decision to allow Rep. Will Hurt to keynote the conference, despite his atrocious voting record on women’s rights.https://t.co/1uLWMKM4an
— Zack Whittaker (@zackwhittaker) June 13, 2019
The guy who posted the tweet above, Zack Whittaker, is a security editor for the online technology news publisher TechCrunch. His perspective was shared by other notables in the tech industry:
— Tarah (@tarah) June 13, 2019
— Eva (@evacide) June 13, 2019
Critics also panned Hurd for his voting record.
“An analysis of Hurd’s voting record shows he supports bills promoting women’s rights only two percent of the time,” Whittaker wrote for TechCrunch. “He has voted against a bill that would financially support women in STEM fields, voted in favor of allowing states to restrict access and coverage to abortions, and voted to defund Planned Parenthood.”
Voting against abortion and Planned Parenthood is standard fare for any genuine Republican politician who subscribes to the belief that all lives matter, including unborn lives.
As for the bill to “financially support women in STEM fields,” it was a Democrat-devised social justice endeavor designed to address concerns about the lack of women in STEM fields. According to the left, the cause of this is sexism. But according to the actual data, it’s attributable to the fact that men are more likely than women to pursue careers in this field.
The conference’s organizers initially responded to the backlash by issuing a statement in defense of Hurd’s impressive credentials.
“Hurd has a strong background in computer science and information security and has served as an advocate for specific cybersecurity initiatives in Congress,” a spokesperson said to Whittaker. “He will offer the Black Hat audience a unique perspective of the infosec landscape and its effect on the government.”
But as the backlash grew — thanks in large part to Whittaker’s hit piece — the conference’s organizers backed down.
“Black Hat has chosen to remove U.S. Representative Will Hurd as our 2019 Black Hat USA Keynote,” they said in a statement. “We misjudged the separation of technology and politics.”
“We will continue to focus on technology and research, however we recognize that Black Hat USA is not the appropriate platform for the polarizing political debate resulting from our choice of speaker. We are still fully dedicated to providing an inclusive environment and apologize that this decision did not reflect that sentiment.”
Black Hat has chosen to remove U.S. Representative, Will Hurd, as our 2019 Black Hat USA Keynote. We’ve posted a statement here: https://t.co/JsuVECbVTs
— Black Hat (@BlackHatEvents) June 14, 2019
In response, Hurd’s team pushed back on some of the hyperbole about him.
“Congressman Hurd has always sought to engage groups of people that don’t necessarily agree with all of his votes or opinions,” his communications director, Katie Thompson, said.
“That’s why Rep. Hurd is one of the loudest voices for bipartisanship in Congress. This Congress alone he voted for equal pay for equal work, for the Violence Against Women Act and the Equality Act. Not to mention Congressman Hurd would have brought the prospective [sic] of a person of color and someone who served our nation abroad.”
That’s right — Hurd is a black man. But as is often the case, the left’s calls for so-called “diversity” and “inclusion” don’t involve those minorities who think differently than them.
But if the Black Hat USA organizers thought they were home free, they thought wrong. They are now facing another round of backlash — this time from those Americans frustrated by their disregard for the diversity of thought.
Thanks for raising this. I may disagree with people on topics, but I don’t shun them due to one view. It’s also frustrating that the anti-hurd crowd don’t think that the other side of the abortion argument may have a valid point as well. Diff viewpoints are good for debate!
— SuperfluousSecurity (@SuperfluousSec) June 15, 2019
I don’t agree with this decision. I think we can stand to hear sense from Hurd on cybersecurity without endorsing his other, less sophisticated views. I don’t think we have to agree with everything someone says in order to listen to them.
— Simon Pope (@skjpope) June 15, 2019
@BlackHatEvents Completely disappointed with your decision to remove Rep Hurd as a speaker form Black Hat 2019. Interesting to see how easily you crumble to one sided public opinions. That speaks volumes about your security philosophy.
— SickofHypocrisy (@SickofHypocrisy) June 15, 2019
@BlackHatEvents Outrageous call on Rep. Hurd. Black Hat, at least your name is appropriate (although Ass Hat would be good as well). Enjoy your conference.
— Tom Morgan (@Tom_AF4HL) June 14, 2019
Shame on Black Hat for complicity in repressing freedom. Rep William Hurd @HurdOnTheHill cyber security expert & pro-Life was uninvited by @BlackHatEvents who bowed to Left’s Stalinesque altar of intolerant ostracism of anyone whose views don’t conform to their orthodoxy. https://t.co/cBk7Ijr0Cn
— Redsoxj (@redsoxj) June 15, 2019
Hillary Clinton who is either completely incompetent or deliberately obstructed a federal investigation (emailgate) can keynote a @FireEye summit, but an actual technically intelligent person (Bill Hurd) can’t keynote @BlackHatEvents. WTF?!
— ɹǝʇsllǝɥs (@shellsterdude) June 14, 2019
The latter tweet wasn’t a joke. Disgraced former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was chosen to be the keynote speaker at an upcoming FireEye cybersecurity conference in October.
The only ones who’ve complained about her being tapped for the role have been conservatives. But instead of complaining because of her political views, they’ve complained because she literally knows nothing — absolutely nothing — about cybersecurity.
As of mid-June, FireEye still hasn’t rescinded its invitation to her, not that Whittaker and his merry band of social justice activists care.
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