Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Racial Profiling: "Can't sit here!" "Seats Taken!"

On the heals of the recent botched Northwest Airlines Flight 253 terrorist attempt in Detroit, Racial Profiling has once again, come to the forefront.

History has shown us that a terrorist can come from any background. Richard Reid - AKA, The Shoe Bomber - was white, and Jose Padilla - AKA, Abdullah al-Muhajir - was Hispanic. However, by-in-large, terrorist (at least in the form of airplane hijackers) over the last 20 -30 years have been male Muslim from the Middle East.

Usually I'm the first to say that racial profiling in ANY form is wrong. Profiling for the sake of profiling is wrong. Pulling black men over, adding extra scrutiny, or any form of unequal treatment without provocation, but to simply harass or emasculate, is wrong. However, I start to separate myself from the Civil Rights crowd in certain respects. I don't want Officer Law "picking" on anyone of color, but I do believe there are times when you must profile for the "Greater Good" (whatever the heck that is...). For example, if a young black male is found murdered in a "certain" part of town, I'm going to need the police to profile and start looking at other young black males in that community FIRST. It makes no sense to me to NOT profile (in this type of situation). Should they start looking in some of the neighboring white communities JUST to be fair? Of course not. Time is usually of the essence, and they can't waste it for the sake of fairness. Now clearly I understand that ANYONE is capable of committing this crime, but I think it is safe to assume that given the history of that "certain" part of town, another young black male was involved. I say start looking there first.

I bring up that example to illustrate that Racial Profiling (in the form of criminal profiling) is necessary in SOME situations. Right???

I also understand that with criminal profiling, you need a crime. So airport profiling is a very tight rope to walk.

We were a mostly reactionary country when it came to airport security. In response to the hijackings in the 1960s, the federal government required mandatory screening of all airline passengers and their luggage. Thanks to more recent events, you can't take shampoo or even an unopened can of Coke (purchased outside security) on a plane, and you must walk through security barefoot. So thanks to Mr. Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, I'm sure we will have to take off our underwear.

But should we? Should a black woman from Kansas have to throw out her lip gloss because, as you know, it can bring the plane down? (Lip Gloss is multifunctional) Should a little white baby not be allowed to have it's formula because it may contain explosive chemical agents...(who knew liquid plutonium "does a body good").

Or should we start pulling out those that fit the "profile" so the rest can fly freely?

It is said that Obama has started a "form" of Racial (or more accurately - "Nationality") Profiling, by tightening security on persons from specific countries flying in to America.

My questions:
Knowing that the largest majority of terrorist hijackings are by Muslim Men from Middle Eastern Countries, should there be added scrutiny placed on them?

Have we gotten to the point where it is necessary for Airline Security to racially profile?

Is there a point in time when profiling IS okay, if it keeps U.S. citizens safe? Even if it means making it harder on a young man simply because he has a Muslim name and wears a turban?
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