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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mapping L.A. Muslims

The Los Angeles Police Department wants to be trusted. It proposes to map the city and pinpoint Muslim communities that "may be susceptible to violent, ideologically based extremism," but it also doesn't want anyone to worry that it will pick on individuals or stereotype groups based on their religion or national origin. Rather, the department insists that it will "take a deeper look at the history, demographics, language, culture, ethnic breakdown, socioeconomic status and social interactions" that define L.A....

[P]ardon us if we are uncomfortable with the idea of the police department compiling maps of those it sees as susceptible to violence. That starts from the premise that race or nationality or religion defines susceptibility -- a prescription for profiling if ever we've heard one. And it puts judgments about race and religion in the hands of an agency that has hardly evidenced subtle thinking about those topics.

The LAPD under William J. Bratton, and Bernard C. Parks before him, has made great strides toward erasing a long and troubled history and toward restoring public confidence in this city's police. But mapping Muslim L.A. smacks of the old LAPD, the one we're happily leaving behind as we learn to trust the modern department. [Link]

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