Profiling vs. “Racial” Profiling

In the Washington Times Profiling scorned as ‘false comfort’:

“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 behaviours, and “racial” profiling which automatically treats all individuals of a given “race” or “ethnicity” as criminals.

While some of my paleolibertarian friends believe that those “Arabs” who’ve been treated like criminals since September 11 should just shut up and take it, it is interesting to note that the last two individuals arrested for attempted terrorism and suspected future terrorism were not of “Arabic” descent. One was “Latino” (Jose Padilla) and the other was of “mixed-race” heritage (Richard Reid). Do we really think that only an individual of “Arab” descent could be involved in the next terrorist strike? Of course not, the existence of those individuals I just mentioned should be enough to destroy that myth. But apparently some Members of Congress don’t read the papers or have televisions, or they are just plain stupid. Take your pick.

Does the name John Walker Lindh ring a bell? Does anyone really think that he is the only so-called “white” person involved with this murderous group? What about people who look like “Arabs” but aren’t? Should they just shut up and take it as well? After all, it’s their fault for looking like that. Right?

Holding approximately seven million “Arab” Americans responsible for the acts of a few dozen individuals is not only unfair, it is a logistical nightmare and not efficient policing. I agree that the elderly should not be getting pulled aside by the morons in airport security, nor should little kids. On the flip side, being of “Arab” descent (or ‘looking’ like an “Arab”) is not enough reason to automatically assume, as some sellout paleolibertarians do, that the individual is a future terrorist. We can do better, and we have to if the Bill of Rights is to retain any sense of meaning at all.

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