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August 08, 2005



Here's an alternate test:

1. In WWII, 6 million Jews were killed in concentration camps by -
a) Muslim men between 17-40.
b) Germans, led by Adolf Hitler
c) Jay Leno
d) Harry Potter

2. John F. Kennedy was shot and killed by
a) Lee Harvey Oswald, an American citizen of European descent.
b) a Muslim
c) Jay Leno
d) Harry Potter

3. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzahk Rabin was shot and killed by
a) Muslims
b) A far right-wing Jew
c) Jay Leno
d) Harry Potter

4. The genocide in Rwanda was carried out by
a) Muslims
b) Hutus attacking Tutsis
c) Jay Leno
d) Harry Potter

5. Patty Hearst was kidnapped by
a) Muslim terrorists
b) The SLA, American terrorists
c) Your momma
d) Douglas Giles momma

... It's all in what questions you ask, isn't it? If I wanted to focus solely on the bad deeds of Europeans or Americans - as individuals or as a whole - and that was all my "history test" was concerned with, it might then look like I had an open and shut case for profiling white guys too. But I wouldn't have one. I would have an exercise in paranoid bigotry.

"Profiling" is not a useful tool in criminal justice. It casts a wide net and all it manages to do is alienate people and unfairly target certain groups. If profiling (and random questioning and searches etc) was really working great and foiling terrorist plots then I think it won't take long for the terrorists to figure out that all they have to do is disguise themselves, dress differently, change their name - pass themselves off as Mexican say - and no problemo.

Oh, and profiling won't bother innocent Muslims according to Giles? Bullshit. Easy to say if you're white. Try driving in certain towns or neighborhoods if you're black and getting pulled over constantly, hassled and detained and given traffic tickets you don't deserve because the cops have to have "probable cause", and generally treated with hostile suspiscion. Oh, yes sir, all for the greater good of course - unless it's YOU who has to live like a second class citizen, then you might not see it that way.


Hi Ned,

I'll give you that this particular columnist uses a blunt instrument and selective questions. However, our current method of searching grannies and 5 year old girls does not use all the tools at our disposal.

Imagine there's a murderer on the loose in your hometown. The police know she is female and in her 40's. Instead of focusing their efforts on this demographic, police randomly search for the suspect.

I'd point you to

this post

which links to this column:

The American system's "blindness" cuts off the most important weapon in the war against terrorism: Human capability, judgment and perception. Now that the United States faces a higher threat, it cannot afford to neglect those tools.

Using sociological data as well as constantly updated intelligence information, trained security personnel know who is most likely to be perpetuating an attack, as well as how to identify suspicious individuals through behavior. (Again, it is important to note that ethnicity is only one factor among many used to identify potential terrorists.) Removing intelligence and statistical probability as tools would render this model far less effective.

I disagree that profiling is not effective in criminal justice. In fact we depend upon it every day.

No one is advocating that we harass all Muslim men between these ages. I'm only advocating that we use all the information available to us to identify the terrorists. Note that might mean that Chechyn women traveling alone on a one way ticket might raise red flags for security. Be honest with yourself, is that woman more likely a threat or the five year old girl in line next to you?

There's no reason not to use the same type of behavior profiling the Israelis have been using effectively for years.

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