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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Profiling - It Just Makes Sense

Heather MacDonald has very good column in the National Review Online in which she takes apart the nonsense arguments of Washington Post columnist Colbert King in his July 30 column "You Can't Fight Terrorism With Racism". Excerpts:
Colbert King's July 30 rant, "You Can't Fight Terrorism With Racism," exemplifies the opinion elite's hysteria and hypocrisy regarding anything that can be called "profiling." It is no more "racist" to focus on young Muslim males in an Islamic-terrorist investigation than it is to focus on whites in a Klan investigation. Yet it is doubtful that King would accuse the FBI of unfairly excluding blacks from scrutiny if the bureau didn't search black Baptist churches for white robes and gasoline after a Klan attack.

There are, however, no unambiguous physical markers for being a Muslim. So rational Islamic-terror investigators must use a surrogate: apparent national origin. Al Qaeda and other Islamic-terror groups have drawn the vast majority of their members from what Krauthammer calls the "Islamic belt" — the Middle East, Pakistan, and North Africa, where white skin is not indigenous. Does that mean that Islamic-terror investigators are biased against people with darker skin? Of course not. Nor does it mean that antiterror agents should treat every Middle Easterner as a suspect. But they should be allowed to factor in apparent Muslim identity in evaluating whether certain behavior is suspicious. A string of eight Saudi males seeking to purchase large quantities of fertilizer at a garden supply store outside of Las Vegas should raise more questions than if eight Mormon missionaries were to do so.

And after the next attack, would King, the ACLU, and the New York Times have the police randomly search synagogues and parish churches for leads? A prediction: If the U.S. is attacked again, American law-enforcement authorities will do what the British have already done — unapologetically take Osama bin Laden at his word and look for Muslim suspects. And if the self-appointed rights guardians were ever given responsibility for protecting lives, let's hope that they would do the same.
You cannot escape the common sense of profiling.


EGL 8/12/2005 11:08:00 AM  

You never responded to my e-mail on this. The idea put forth in that article that "A string of eight Saudi males seeking to purchase large quantities of fertilizer at a garden supply store outside of Las Vegas should raise more questions than if eight Mormon missionaries were to do so" overlooks the truth. Timothy McVeigh was nothing more than a white guy buying fertilizer and no amount of profiling would have stopped him. Unless and until there is actual evidence of some plot, no one be they muslim, black, white, asian or otherwise should be subjected to profiling. I have no qualms with subjecting actual suspects to a hightened level of security, but making someone a suspect just based on their skin color or national origin is offensive.

Kevin 8/12/2005 11:30:00 AM  

Sorry I didn't respond. I've been in a whirlwind since I got back from vacation.

You're right, Timothy McVeigh wouldn't have been caught by profiling for young muslim males from north africa, the middle east, or south asia. Colbert King made the same argument. However, Ms. MacDonald addresses that. To put it simply, investigators aren't looking for members of the Militia Movement, "they are looking for people who have sworn allegiance to a Muslim crusade against the West."

EGL 8/12/2005 12:06:00 PM  

That's fine, but overlooks the reality that many people from many countries/religions/national origins and races dislike the policies of this country and are willing to act violently. Yes, Muslim militants are in the spotlight now, but our involvement in Iraq helps to create this focus.
There is no reason that there shouldn't be a focus on militias or other type of movements because they still exist and Oklahoma City (being the largest terrorist act prior to 9/11 to hit the US) is a perfect example of their willingness to use destrution in an attempt to further their goals. And, after OK city, we saw an increase in a crackdown on those types of groups. It became, for lack of a better term, trendy. Cops and the FBI bust militias and now everyone feels safer. Now, after 9/11 the focus is off of them and focusing on muslims is the new trend. While its hot and the cattle that live in this country "feel" safer because of it matters a lot less that profiling doesn't work and is wrong.

Kevin 8/12/2005 12:23:00 PM  

The militia movement is almost extinct because we focused on it. We knew what to look for and we went after it. The same could be true of the muslim terrorists. We know how to identify them. We could pick them off much more easily if we simply take notice of their common characteristics.

Would profiling protect us 100%? Hell no. Could the milita movement still deal a good blow? I'm sure it could. But to intentionally ignore obvious characteristics that can help identify terrorists (from any movement or group) is insane.

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