This story was first published on the Art Chang for NYC Mayor website.
“Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction … The chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr. in Strength to Love (1963)
“White supremacists are using online platforms for hate. It’s time to change the terms.”
At my last job, using social media, even personal social media, to spread hate would have resulted in disciplinary action, including dismissal. Shouldn’t government employees be held to a similar standard? And shouldn’t government employees who carry weapons and a license to kill be held to an even higher standard?
“The petitioner may have a constitutional right to talk politics, but he has no constitutional right to be a policeman.”
— Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes
On January 6, at least 29 current and former police officers participated in the mob assault on the Capitol, according to the Washington Post. It is becoming increasingly clear that this was preplanned, largely on online platforms.
Security thinking needs a reboot to restore public trust in policing. Cybersecurity offers direct lessons for understanding and addressing white supremacism in policing.
A cybersecurity breach starts with an undetected virus and expands quietly, piggybacking on the strengths of the host systems, before erupting into visible attacks. Even after suppression, the virus continues to persist; only by identifying and removing infected components can health be restored to a system. But best practices assume that the infection is never entirely eradicated.
White supremacy can be considered a virus in cybersecurity terms, with white supremacists as “threat actors.” We should respond accordingly.