Ajit Pai expected some blowback for his decision to reverse “net neutrality” rules, but he’s been taken aback by how personal and racial the outcry has been.
“I knew we would get some backlash,” the Federal Communications Commission chairman told The Daily Caller Monday, “both because we live in a politically toxic time in which, if you’re a ‘Spinal Tap’ fan, everything seems to be dialed up to eleven, but also on this particular issue, that people are very passionate.”
“What I hoped, perhaps naively so,” Pai continued, “is that my family would be left out of it. My wife and kids don’t have a role in this debate. They aren’t a part of it, they don’t want to be a part of it, and they shouldn’t be drawn into it.”
In November, pro-net neutrality activists posted signs outside Pai’s Virginia home listing his children by name while calling the government official an “evil” man who “murdered democracy.”
Pai, who is Indian American, also noted that his critics have questioned his racial purity over the issue.
“I would also hope that people, and not just the anonymous folks, but some of the publicly named people, publicly prominent people, who’ve said, ‘Oh, well yeah, he’s not a real Indian American because, you know, he’s taking this position, you know, the Indian American community disavows him.’ And, you know, it’s just the kind of ridiculous commentary that, if the tables were turned, I think they would quite confidently call it racist.”
Pai and his fellow Republican commissioners are set to vote Thursday to repeal the FCC’s net neutrality rules, established in 2015 under the Obama administration. The rules are designed to force internet service providers to deliver all web content at the same speed, regardless of type.
Pai argues that those rules have stifled both infrastructure investment and innovation.