Military and Police

When the Institution Complains About Institutional Racism

My wife and I joined an online neighborhood community group. It wasn’t through Facebook, so we thought it would be nice to hear politically-free neighborhood news. But, no… These days, politics rears its ugly head everywhere. A middle school teacher mentioned putting up a sign to greet his soon-to-be-arriving class. The sign read: “All Lives Matter.”

Well, they don’t matter to the PC police in the form of another teacher who took him aside and “explained” to him why his sign was “racist.” And how that phrase detracted from the Black Lives Matter movement.

I wanted to join in and point out that “black lives matter” as used by Black Lives Matter is offensive to cops because of the group’s scorn for law enforcement officers. But I squelched the urge and moved on to another post that had some useful tips. I didn’t want to engage in what I oppose.

As a retired police officer, I am annoyed with the left’s penchant for conflation as it relates to race in particular. For example, I worked for a city that leftist Democrats (and now an avowed socialist) have controlled for decades. Yet, leftist activists lambast the city (especially the cops) with persistent charges of institutional racism. Hell, even some of the city’s lefty politicians do this. The left talks about institutional racism not as if they want it to vanish but as if they want (need) it to exist.

In 2016, The Seattle Times produced an online discussion called “Under Our Skin.” You don’t have to watch long before you get slapped in the face with people accusing one of the most liberal cities in America of institutional racism.

One man said, “Seattle’s supposed to have this liberal image, but it’s not.” It’s not? They sure got me fooled.

Another woman asserts, “Sometimes I feel like it’s 1954. People feel empowered to say it out loud and announce their ignorance.”

These people, and many others, proclaim this bastion of progressive tolerance “ignorant” and “racist.” Really?

Except for exhibiting President George Bush speech writer Michael Gerson’s “soft bigotry of low expectations,” accusing Seattle government of being institutionally racist (as described by the left) seems a stretch. I can’t believe I’m defending Seattle political leaders.

The radical left charges institutional racism but then cites as examples acts of individual racism—or what they’ve deemed to be racism. Often, they accuse those not in their camp of being racist just for the crime of existing. Conservative = Racist. Republican = Racist. Libertarian = Racist. Non-line-toeing Democrat = Racist.

Another thing the left does is contort and then conscript skewed statistics. If a study shows more of one race or ethnicity supposedly suffering sanctions more than another, the left goes straight to racism.

For example, if statistics show a police officer has ticketed more minority drivers than white drivers: Racism. Cop critics don’t even consider the fact the officer is white and his or her district is 80% minority—when it is the fact. I suppose that a similar study that showed the officer helped more minority victims compared with white victims would garner no interest.

Years ago my city commissioned a study to determine if (that) racism was a determination in officers’ traffic enforcement. They collected data regarding traffic stops, warnings, and citations issued. When the study didn’t prove the city’s cops were racists, rather than the city touting the good news, the study didn’t support the narrative, so it evaporated into the bureaucratic ether.

So, what about the leftist claim of institutional racism. According to thoughtco.com, “Institutional racism is defined as racism perpetrated by social and political institutions, such as schools, the courts, or the military” and federal, state, and local governments.

So, if there is racism in a perennially liberal-run city, and it is institutional racism, wouldn’t it be the fault of the Democrats in charge—the political institution? Not if you ask far-left activists.

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 27, 2017: City Council Members, including Jumaane Williams (center right) and Melissa Mark-Viverto (center left) ‘take a knee’ on the steps of City Hall in reaction to President Donald Trump’s condemnation of NFL players who do the same on September 27, 2017 in New York City. The Council members spoke of having solidarity with athletes and coaches around the country who have also kneeled in protest of racial injustice, especially in policing. Council member Jumaane Williams held a football jersey with quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s name on it. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

They love to create victimization by creating victims and victimizers out of nothing. The leftist “victims” are the usual: non-white males, ethnic minorities, women, LBGTQ, etc. The “victimizers” are easy: white people, especially men who parade their pathetic pale privilege all over the place.

The problem, as I saw it on the job, which hasn’t diminished in retirement, is this nifty little bit of leftist political alchemy. First, the left asserts social and political institutions are chock-full of a collective bias and bigotry. Then, they bolster their argument with examples not of institutional racism but of individual racism. And, often, individual racism as they define it.

Another way they skew their “evidence” is by inventing mass unconscious bias. Wow! What a devious catch-all. I’m not saying this sort of bias doesn’t exist, but I am saying it doesn’t exist to the extent and in the manner the left accuses the right of possessing it. Accuse someone of racism and then tell them they don’t even know they’re racist. Brilliant! Control the language, control the conversation, control thought.

You: “I am not a racist!”

Leftist: “Really? How would you know?”

Ironically, the left complains about institutional racism existing in a Democrat-run city government. Then they’ll point to some deranged individual on a bus shouting racial slurs at people as “evidence” of institutional racism. Worse, they’ll point to armed black suspects who forced white police officers to shoot them as more evidence of institutional racism.

If the left expects to eradicate “individual” anything, including racism, they’ve got a long wait ahead of them. Related to race, anyone who looks honestly at how far social and political institutions have come since Jim Crow will see a mavelous cultural and political transformation.

We should celebrate America for this amazing achievement, not condemn her for it.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at www.stevepomper.com.

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