White supremacists in Law Enforcement

Like a cancer patient in denial, America has a problem with white supremacists in law enforcement.

If you’re thinking; “No it doesn’t!”… set that thought aside for a moment and examine some evidence. There is ample documentation and both FBI and scholarly reference that it is true. These sources are linked in the list at the bottom of the page.

I am not being ‘anti-cop’ any more than a diagnosis of cancer is anti-health. I am “anti-racism” and “anti-white-supremacist.” Many police departments have not been compromised but some major departments have been. Think of the good cops you personally know, and how this situation places them in danger.

Officer in riot gear making white power sign
Photo PBS Newshour

As of 31 May, 2020, following the cool, deliberate on-camera execution of George Floyd, protests are taking place all across the country. Some of them have turned violent, but it does not appear to be the actual protesters who instigate the violence. In some cases it has been instigators and in others, it has actually been the police. And behind all of this tumult, there is a root cause.

As far back as 2006, the FBI warned that white supremacists were infiltrating law enforcement:

In the 2006 bulletin, the FBI detailed the threat of white nationalists and skinheads infiltrating police in order to disrupt investigations against fellow members and recruit other supremacists. The bulletin was released during a period of scandal for many law enforcement agencies throughout the country, including a neo-Nazi gang formed by members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department who harassed black and Latino communities. Similar investigations revealed officers and entire agencies with hate group ties in IllinoisOhio and Texas.

Little was done. In 2019, the Lewis & Clark Law Review published a legal analysis of continued white supremacist influence in law enforcement titled “KKK in the PD”. The report reads:

Unfortunately, this significant rise in hate group membership and hate ideology is seen not just in the public but within law enforcement as well. Newer white supremacist organizations have focused on veterans,11 college students12 and infiltrating police departments.13 Communities of color feel they cannot seek safety by calling police. Many in communities of color already are afraid of police because of the killings of unarmed blacks and other minorities that have been making headlines for decades but particularly since the killings in Ferguson,14 Staten Island,15 Cincinnati16 and elsewhere.17

Social media has played its part. Several Facebook groups have been created where law enforcement can trade racist and Islamophobic material. Some police departments have been sifting through social media posts, deciding what to do.

I found a wealth of documentation regarding this trend, some of it too offensive to even consider posting. The field is large, and complex, and there are aspects I have not touched on. But as a country we need to align with our promise of liberty and justice for all.

“Please Print”

Detail, Declaration Of Independence
Hancock, you are such a showoff…

Maybe it’s the clicks they want: every so often there’s an article about the ‘death of cursive’. You can count on dozens of people weighing in about what a shame it is that kids won’t be taught how to “write”.

This time it’s Smithsonian magazine, asking “Is Cursive Handwriting Going Extinct?” But for the first time that I can recall, the article pretty much says; “Yeah, probably, but what difference does it make?”

If you go back in time, learn to do this

I like that.

Cursive handwriting started as a necessity for writing with Quill pens. Which is to say, a pen cut from a bird’s feather. Making them was a necessary skill for Carolingian script of the eighth century. Quills and cursive persisted without anyone really questioning them until practical ballpoint pens were made in the 1940’s. By 1960 the price had come down, and shortly thereafter, articles moaning about the death of cursive became a cottage industry.

During those same 1960’s, a kid in Iowa was struggling to learn cursive, and not doing very well. He had survived spinal menningitis in 1961 and his fine motor coordination was scarcely functional. He was told repeatedly, in an abusive way, that printing was not “real” writing. Trying to shoehorn his motor ability into the curls and connections of cursive had little effect other than emotional trauma and a delay in the ability to begin expressing himself in writing.

I’m still a bit crusty about it.

When one of my own kids had trouble with cursive, a teacher expressed concern that the child in question would never be able to get a job, if he didn’t learn cursive. His mother quipped; “Then why does every job application say; “Please Print or Type?””

(That one got a snort from the principal, while the teacher looked a bit uncomfortable.)

Today, Illinois is one of a few states that has given up on cursive in favor of keyboarding skills. Frankly that’s all to the good. Different children develop motor skills at different rates, but it simply isn’t relevant to the need to express oneself in writing.

In colonial times, which are often referenced by cursive lovers, illiteracy ran about thirty percent among adults, with handwriting being an even less common skill. Obstacles to literacy should be given the gimlet eye before they might be allowed in curriculum.

Write in cursive, don’t write in cursive, I don’t care. But don’t waste children’s time and attention while they’re learning in early years. Offer a calligraphy class in high school for those who might be interested.

NOTES:

  • Once my fine motor coordination improved, after my senior year of high school, I did practice calligraphy. But I still use a keyboard if I have a lot of writing to do. In fact, I’m quite particular about keyboards.
  • I have seen the argument that “Kids need to learn cursive so they can read our founding documents”. Yes, really. As if they couldn’t look at the period handwriting and work out that a lower-case “s” looked like an “f” back then.