Taking the Hoods Off

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Marching in London. Guardian photo

As promised, the hacktivist collective Anonymous marked the end of Guy Fawkes Day and its sometimes-tumultuous Million Mask Marches around the world - violence marred the London event - by publishing the names of hundreds of alleged members of the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups across the country. Having targeted the KKK after Michael Brown's death in Ferguson, hackers decided to revisit the issue of their impact, spending 11 months gathering information using Facebook accounts and other public data as well as interviews with experts and sometimes members - though they carefully add, "You never know who you are talking to on the Internet." They had previously disavowed another data dump last week claiming membership by a number of politicians and police, evidently by someone not with Anonymous. To reiterate that rejection, they note, "We hope this body of work speaks for itself...We have done our best to ensure accuracy and avoid collateral damage to innocent parties. Erring on the side of caution, we removed several names from this list for further evaluation."

The tone of the post is thoughtful, with trigger warnings and an introductory essay. They consider the data dump "a form of resistance against (KKK) violence and intimidation tactics leveraged against the public" in hopes of sparking "constructive dialogue about race, racism, racial terror and freedom of expression." Assiduously delineating between thought and action - "We want to remind you: This operation is not about (KKK) ideas (but) behaviors" - they add, "The reality is that racism usually does NOT wear a hood, but it does permeate our culture on every level...Part of the reason we have taken the hoods off these individuals is not because of their identities, but because of what their hoods symbolize to us in our broader society...Violent bigotry IS a problem in the United States." It also includes notes on hate group gossip - a "HUGE fight" over non-payment for Klan patches - titles - Imperial Wizard, Grand Dragon, RopeMaker - aliases - "some confirmed, some we were unable to crack" - and shifting alliances between groups. There are even helpful tips on online lingo: AYAK (Are you a Klansmen?), AKIA (A Klansmen I am) and KIGY (Klansman I greet you.) No word yet on their secret handshake.

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What not to teach your kids.

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What to teach them. Marching in Brussels/Reuters photo

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