Analysis of media issues, politics and current events.
Does racial profiling work? Let’s be honest. Yes it does. AGNOSTIC racial profiling.
What I mean by that. If you can truly or statistically associate as trait or action with a group or organization to the point you can show there are behaviors more likely than normal to occur within a group, in security situations you can and should use that association to identify people who may require additional review of evidence corroboration (stress additional review) of a threat.
Groups do tend to have actions and behaviors in greater numbers than other groups. Insurance companies know there a link between groups with certain credit ratings and car accidents. Evangelicals tend to vote Republican.
If I saw a young black person I didn’t know about to play a song on her radio. The song I’m about to hear could be Conway Twitty. But if you had to bet your life on it, you would likely go with R&B or soul. Right? Again you might be wrong, she might be the greatest Garth Brooks fan in the world, but in relationship to that group, the odds of hearing Usher or Black Eye Peas are likely more in your favor. Groups and traits that make determining potential actions more likely. It’s done all the time in marketing.
What gives racial profiling a bad name is not that you are profiling racially in terms of distinguishing behavior by racial groups when you do it in an agnostic manner, but when true racism (and racism’s cousin, ethnic knowledge laziness) sneaks into the process.
There is a big difference between thinking “X” group might have a higher percentage than normal to do something dangerous (racial profiling) and the belief that the people who aren’t dangerous in “X” group are the exception (racism). Is the second where things like DWB (Driving While Black) start to happen. Or pulling someone out of line at the airport just because he has a turban (which is more Seik than Muslim). You’re making the ethnicity or group affiliation the proof rather than one factor in reviewing evidence.
The “rule and not the exception” is what racism is in racial profiling. To think of a black person or Muslim as a criminal that you just haven’t found the crime they committed yet is where racial profiling goes astray. Instead of their identity as a reason to check for any suspicious clues and instead the identity itself become the key suspicion.
Plus it’s racist beliefs brought to racial profiling is exactly what makes racial profiling fail as a useful security tool.
Think about it. The key to hiding in general is to not look out of place in your environment. You want to blend in. For people who bring the over confidence of racism or dogmatic stereotypes to finding threats, a true threat can actually hide in plain sight as long as it looks like what YOU think is not a danger.
If Mr. T.S.A. is just looking for Muslims or black or Pakistanis, the best way to hide from Mr. T.S.A. is not to look Muslim, black or Pakistani. Radicalize a mid-west, pig tail, cute smile young white girl. She’d make the perfect terrorist. Mr Homeland Security person’s racism (laziness to evaluate everyone) creates a hole that anyone who isn’t on their “guilty” list can waltz though.
The lazier view of racial profiling is also another reason some people in the public love the idea of racial profiling– until it turns on them. In their mind, some see racial profiling as a tool to that will check only the likely guilty (non-white and non-christian people). I think that’s why you see the frustrations and news stories of passengers as children and old ladies get second screenings. No one wants to say it, but the underlying frustration is, “why are you checking me!? Check Muhammad!? This system is to check ‘them!’”
Yes, for most of the known terrorist events in the US in the last 10 years, it was men of Muslim faith. But let’s not forget Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma city bombing. Groups that have made plans and gathering weapons to start race wars and take over the “Zionist Occupational Government.” McViegh was a part of one of those groups. Right now it may be more likely a terrorist plotting an attack might be Muslim, but it would be more dangerous this is country we became blind to threats that don’t look as probable. Keeping racial profiling from becoming racist profiling and looking for all threats would help.