What's It Gonna Be? Collectivist Racialism or Individualism?
by James A. Landrith, Jr.
The following quote appeared in .a Washington Times story on July 7, 2002.
"It is very tempting to take false comfort in the belief that we can spot the bad guy based on appearance alone," Mr. Mineta told an Arab-American group in Detroit recently. "Some are yielding to that temptation in their arguments for racial profiling, but false comfort is a luxury we cannot afford."
There is a difference, of course, between profiling, which involves multiple characteristics and behaviors, and "racial" profiling which automatically treats all individuals of a given "race" or "ethnicity" as criminals. For instance, looking for an "Asian" man of approximately 35 years in connection with a specific armed robbery is a form of profiling and completely appropriate. On the other hand, pulling over all "black" males driving cars less than 2 years old for the sole purpose of perfoming unConstitutional searches is "racial" profiling and is not appropriate. In short, taking a person's appearance into account when looking for a specific individual is fine, but singling out all individuals of a specific demographic for the purpose of fishing for wrongdoing is inappropriate. Too many "racial" profiling advocates willfully confuse this issue in order to indulge or mask their true beliefs.
Which brings us to another issue – terrorism, "race" and religion. While some may believe that "Arabs" who've been treated like criminals since September 11 should just shut up and take one for the team, it is interesting to note that two of the highest profile terrorism arrests since September 11 were individuals not of "Arabic" descent. One was "Latino" (Jose Padilla) and another was of "multiracial" heritage (Richard Reid). Should we really continue to think that only an individual of "Arab" descent could be involved in terrorist activities? What about people who look like "Arabs" but aren't? Should they just shut up and continue to take the abuse as well? After all, isn't it their fault that someone else thinks they are from the Middle East? Only if we adhere to a "racialist" definition of terrorism. If we pay attention to the past, of course we know better and will reject that concept. The existence of those few individuals I just mentioned should be enough to destroy that baseless myth.
How about the name John Walker Lindh? Does anyone really think that he is the only so-called "white" person involved in this type of activity? What about Tim McVeigh? What about The Order and Benjamin Smith from World Church of the Creator, an offshoot of Christian Identity? Or do we only label a person a terrorist if they are Muslim, Middle Eastern or perhaps a member of the I.R.A.? Is a non-Irish Christian automatically immume from the possibility of being a terrorist? Even if he blows up an entire building, killing men, women and children for the sole purpose of furthering a political or religious agenda?
Not according to some of my coalition colleagues on the right who wish to see all Muslims as terrorists and all Christians as their helpless victims. It is understandably an uncomfortable realization that someone who shares some of your own beliefs and background could do something so heinous and disgusting as committing mass murder for the purpose of further a political or social agenda. But denying the truth doesn't make it go away. Nor does it make inconvenient thinkers like me shut up.
Of course, many Christians make the argument that Christian Identity adherents aren't real Christians. Many Muslims also make the claim that bin Laden and his ilk aren't real Muslims. That said, many of the same Christians who've rejected any religious tie with those involved in the Christian Identity circles still rush to slander all Muslims with the stain of being associated with Al Qaeda. Why the obvious double standard?
Further, I have to wonder at the sincerity of any believer, be they Christian or Muslim, who ignores political terrorists in their own midst and instead focuses on those people and their religion. Whether it's Christian extremists bombing abortion clinics, "patriots" blowing up a federal office building in Oklahoma, members of The Order planning assassinations, violent overthrow of government institutions and armed robberies, or Muslim extremists destroying the World Trade Center, the actions are all still terroristic in nature. Further, in our collectivist rage to assign blame to large segments of humanity we intentionally ingore the fact that individuals committed those acts, not "races", not "religions" and especially not THOSE PEOPLE.
I don't recall hearing anyone calling for "racial" profiling of all "white" males near federal buildings after Oklahoma City or The Order arrests. It would have been a near impossible task and pointless, not to mention completely debilitating to government operations. By the same token holding millions of "Arab" Americans responsible for the acts of nineteen individuals is not only unfair, it is a logistical nightmare and not efficient policing.
Clearly, we must refine and revise our approach to screening out potential threats in public and private spaces. But, making blanket assumptions based solely on so-called "racial" demographic and religion will not do. Being of Middle Eastern descent (or 'looking' like an "Arab") is not enough reason to automatically assume, as do some conservatives and sellout paleolibertarians with short attention spans, that the individual should be treated like a terrorist. There are American families of "Arabic" or of other Middle Eastern descent who've been in this country since before the Civil War. Are their years of loyal citizenship, contributions to our economy, and taxpaying to be discarded in favor of the theory that we must automatically assume them to be potential terrorists? Further, isn't this mindset an embrace of collectivism?
There cannot be two standards for terror, one for Christian terrorists that ignores or minimizes "race" and religion; and another for Muslim terrorists that makes blanket assumptions regarding "race" and religion. We can do better, and we have to if the Bill of Rights is to retain any sense of meaning at all. The alternative is to further embrace "racialism" and collectivist belief systems as we hopelessly teeter off the cliff to fascist ruin.
James Landrith is the notorious editor and publisher of The Multiracial Activist and The Abolitionist Examiner, two cyber-rags dedicated to freedom from oppressive racial categorization. Landrith can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or at his personal website/blog.
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