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Finally: Racial-Profiling

It's about time.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has belatedly realized that acts of terror are often conducted by people from terror-sponsoring states. According to the NYT, TSA has ordered a "'full body pat-down and physical inspection of property' for all people who are citizens of or are flying through or from nations with significant terrorist activity." The list of countries seems to include Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen. Savory places, all. 

As was to be expected, protests have issued. While most Americans no doubt scratch their head in bewilderment that travelers from these destinations were not previously subjected to elevated security checks, civil-rights groups and the government of Nigeria have both cried foul, citing racial-profiling as the basis for opposing these new security standards.

And, in truth, they are correct. In fact, it is racial/religious/cultural-profiling, dressed up in a more palatable disguise. Most of the listed countries are predominantly Muslim (Cuba is a communist aberration), and they are on the list because they are dominated by Islam. The connection between Muslims and terrorism may be unfortunate, but it is a simple reality. The Religion of Peace website estimates 14,626 acts of Islamic terrorism since 9-11, and Religious Tolerance notes that Muslims are involved in 21 of 25 current global religious conflicts.

While technological and behavioral methods of locating a would-be airline-terrorist should be fully endorsed, it seems absurd that other characteristics which are almost universally common to all terrorists should be ignored: Ethnicity (Middle Eastern), Religion (Muslim), Age (20s-30s), Gender (Male). TSA's new security implementation is a good beginning, but it should immediately be expanded to include a full spectrum of relevant characteristics - of which nationality and country of departure are only two examples. 

Such criteria have been successfully implemented by a country which has never boarded a would-be terrorist onto a plane, despite unparalleled terror threats: Israel.

The left's fear of profiling should be shared by Obama, but for a different reason. At present, the TSA's heightened measures will only be applied to foreign flights (which require a national passport). But should another act or terror arise upon a domestic flight, a flight which did not implement TSA's foreign security profiling guidelines, would I be premature in calling for the broadest series of executive resignations in the history of the United States?

As my good friend Christopher Armstrong wisely noted, my favorite civil liberty is the one that says I get to not be blown up. Here's to lingering common sense.

Categories > Religion

Discussions - 4 Comments

For all of Cheney's well-directed criticism of Cheney, the TSA's faults here go back to the Bush Administration. His Secretary of Transportation, former Democratic congressman Norman Mineta, is responsible for the original refusal to profile. An ethnic politics pick himself, Mineta used the absurd comparison with the relocation of ethnic Japanese in WW II to justify his policy.

I obviously meant "Cheney's well-directed criticism of Obama." I will add that the most reckless use of racial profiling was an inglorious moment for social science and well-known to denizens of the Washington, DC area: The consensus of psychologists that the DC Sniper was a single middle-age white nerd, frustrated by his work. He turned out to be two blacks, one an immigrant.

A former Middle Eastern student of mine sent me this, on Israeli ethnic profiling and why El Al has been perfect so far: http://online.wsj.com/video/how-israel-screens-for-terrorists/987D025A-145D-42F5-9756-7B43CC7613CE.html


Good news. But I'll believe it when I see it.

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