God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen - Jars of Clay - listen now

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Are We Finally Ready To Accept Profiling?

According to Kathleen Paker writing at Real Clear Politics "sensible" people are rethinking their oppostion to racial profiling as a tool to combat terrorism, despite or natural hesitation to classify people as something other than individuals.
Profiling seems both un-American and dangerous in an era of slippery slopes. The paranoid leap is that detention camps are just around the bend. Thus, instead of deciding to closely scrutinize airline passengers who fit the description of a likely perpetrator -- based not on bigotry, but on evidence, history and common sense -- we frisk the elderly and confiscate toddlers' sippy cups.

Critics of profiling insist that focusing on one group will distract us from other possible terrorists -- presumably all those Baptist grandmothers recently converted to Islam. They also invariably point to Timothy McVeigh, our own homegrown terrorist who blew up a federal office building in Oklahoma City. As if one white-bred misfit -- or the occasional Caucasian Muslim -- cancels out 35 years of Middle Eastern terrorists invoking Muhammad.

For a nation that laments its lapse in dot-connecting before 9/11, we are curiously blind when it comes to dealing honestly with certain people of a certain sort. Profiling isn't aimed at demonizing Muslims; it's aimed at saving lives, including Muslims. As Ms. Parker points out: "Most terrorist acts of the past several decades have been perpetrated by Muslim men between the ages of 17 and 40."
Ms. Parker lists - it doesn't even scratch the surface - some of the major terrorists attacks of the last few decades: Munich ~ '72, Beirut Marine barracks ~ '83, Achille Lauro ~ '85, TWA Flight 847 ~ '85, Nine-Eleven, and most recently the London, Madrid and Mumbai train bombings.

Unfortunately, I'm still unconvinced that America has the wherewithal to do the logical, obvious, and right thing by instituting a profiling program aimed at identifying Muslim terrorists. I'm afraid it will take another large scale attack on American soil with a significant loss of life before we get over our squeamishness about profiling.

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