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Monday, September 19, 2005

9/11 Anniversary Marked with Call for Racial Profiling

"I want all Arabs to be stripped naked and cavity-searched if they get within 100 yards of an airport," argues Jillian Bandes in The Daily Tar Heel. Bandes notes:

You can debate a lot of things about post-9/11 foreign policy, but one thing you can’t debate is that taking out terrorists — or blatant human-rights violators — is a good thing.

You also can’t debate that of the 19 hijackers on those planes, all 19 were Arab.

And you can’t debate that while most Arabs are not terrorists, sadly, most terrorists are indeed Arab.

Given this combination, I want some kind of security.

Done in a professional, conscientious manner, racial profiling is more likely to get the bad guys than accosting my 12-year-old pipsqueak of a brother on his way to summer camp.

Sure, while terrorism should be eliminated, racial profiling is not the answer. The 19 9/11 hijackers were Arab, however relying on a specific profile is not only difficult -- if not impossible -- to develop or implement with any reliable consistency (e.g., the shooting death of a Brazillian by British police, or the murder of Sikh Balbir Singh Sodhi by an American "patriot"), but it will invite the terrorist masterminds to recruit individuals who defy that profile (e.g., White women, Asian men, etc.). A prominent judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit privately agreed with me on the latter point.

Moreover, we should not forget that terrorists aren't all Arab (and Bandes offers no support for her conclusion that "most" are Arab), as the Washington Post's Colbert King noted:

· White male Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh, who killed 168 people, including 19 children, and damaged 220 buildings.

· White male Eric Rudolph, whose remote-controlled bomb killed a woman and an off-duty police officer at a clinic, whose Olympic Park pipe bomb killed a woman and injured more than 100, and whose bombs hit a gay club and woman's clinic.

· White male Dennis Rader, the "bind, torture, kill" (BTK) serial killer who terrorized Wichita for 31 years.

· D.C.-born and Silver Spring-raised white male John Walker Lindh, who converted to Islam and was captured in Afghanistan fighting for the Taliban.

· The IRA bombers who killed and wounded hundreds; the neo-fascist bombers who killed 80 people and injured nearly 300 in Bologna, Italy; and the truck bombings in Colombia by Pedro Escobar's gang.

Finally, a polite deprivation of rights and gracious deviation from bedrock American principles of individualized suspicion and equality under the law does not excuse or remove the noxious quality and effects of the practice.

[Bandes was fired after writing this column for an apparent lack of journalistic professionalism.]

[Thanks to Abhi of Sepia Mutiny for the tip.]


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