The South by Southwest (SXSW) fest in Austin is a traditionally nonpolitical gathering of tech movers-and-shakers from all over the world. In the past, the event featured original music, movies, rising tech and lectures from experts, with acts from famous musicians to spice up the talks.
According to Hugh Forrest, the event’s chief programming officer, President Trump’s arrival on the scene will alter this unspoken agenda starting from March 10.
“There is definitely a degree of politics or political focus that may not have been there in previous years,” Forrest told USA Today.
Although politicians have spoken at SXSW in the past – most notably former President Barack Obama – both sides of the aisle were represented and the speeches were not politically charged.
This year, SXSW will host a number of Trump’s most outspoken critics and experts that would attempt to triangulate Trump’s erratic administration’s affect on the industry.
The tech community overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton for presidency, and few tech giants have switched sides since the election. Trump’s harsh executive orders on immigration and transgender rights have caused waves of condemnation from Silicon Valley, especially on the distribution of visas to high-skilled foreign workers.
On Feb. 7, 200 investors and tech start-ups signed on to an open letter opposing Trump’s Muslim ban. A week earlier 97 companies – including big names like Google and Apple – filed an amicus curiae brief against Trump.
Tech bias against the Trump administration can be seen in the titles of the scheduled talks; “Building Bridges When Others Want to Build Walls” and “From Trump to Trolls: How Muslim Media Fights Back” are just two of the politically charged lectures featured at SXSW.