Rigor Mortis

Jeffrey R Smith, self-described champion of rigor in education, has offered another careless rant about liberals ("Augmenting the defunded police force," Jan. 19; https://alamedasun.com/letters/16545). This time his target is woke liberals who want to defund the police. Some of you might recall his grossly inaccurate screed against the hypocritical liberals on Martha's Vineyard ("Sanctuary city," Sep. 29, 2022).

I suspect that Smith's notions of "defund," "woke," and even "liberal" are conveniently defined to fit square pegs into the round holes of his arguments. A minority of Democrats and Black Americans favor so-called defunding. If Smith did a little research, he'd find that defunding is an unfortunate label for shifting some of the burdens of social work from police officers to social workers and programs. A woke person is anyone who is concerned about racial and social issues.

In October 2020, the Alameda Sun published an article about restructuring police funding (i.e. defunding"). Here's a key line from that article: "About 30 years ago (early 1990's) funding was cut from social programs, and services were shifted to local law enforcement." We could go back a bit further, to the 1970s and 80s, to see other cuts in social programs. Smith won't mention any of that. The same article quotes the Alameda police chief: "The APD welcomes the idea that others handle the initial response to mental health calls, homelessness, and minor code compliance issues."

Smith asks what happened to the defund the police movement that woke Californians demanded. I'll ask what happened to the champion of rigor.

— Steven Mason