While the history of racial profiling is most familiarly associated with cases dealing with police officers pulling over a disproportionate number of drivers who are black, let's focus this debate on airport security, Arab or Muslim Americans post September 11, 2001.
Rather than write out pro- and con- aruguments, I'm just going to introduce the topic by offering a loosely organized array of resources that point to two sides of this debate.
Cases for Racial Profiling:
- The American Enterprise, "Better Safe Than (Occasionally) Sorry
", by Scott Johnson. Argues that the ACLU et al. claim instances of racial profiling when law officials "are focusing on legitimately suspicious behavior, and not simply picking on people by ethnicity."
- The public supports it. According to a 2001 Gallup Poll which reported that 71 percent of blacks — as opposed to 57 percent of whites — believe Arabs and Arab-Americans should "undergo special, more intensive security checks before boarding airplanes."
- Another poll
demonstrates that this sentiment has not waned over time.
- On Slate.com, "Racial Profiling at the Airport
", by Michael Kinsley, makes a strong case for, saying that the practice does not instill racism against Muslims or Arabs but leads to a "huge increase in public sensitivity to anti-Muslim and anti-Arab prejudice".
- In June 2003 the US Dept. of Justice released a memo, "Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies
", which makes the legal case for federal law enforcement (which, since 2002, include airport security officers) to use race and ethnicity as a "legitimate tool".
- On Salon.com, "Why Racial Profiling Doesn't Work
", Kim Zetter writes: "Terrorist attacks have been carried out by people of all ethnicities. What police need to look for is strange behavior, not dark skin."
- Critics claim racial profiling prevailed in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, as law enforcement initially focused time and resources on two men of Middle Eastern descent (though Timothy McVeigh was identified and arrested less than two days after the attack).
- Being an Arab or Muslim is not, statistically, a accurate indicator of suspicion
- ACLU's position and history
- Islamic extremists increasingly recruit non-arab, of European descent, for terrorism. So racial profiling is ineffective.
- Israeli critique
of our airport security and reliance on racial profiling and technology. Note: Israel is known for their strict airport security, racial profiling of Arabs, and success rate in preventing terrorist hijackings on Israeli airlines.
- Breeds and/or justifies racism and paranoia - we are told to report suspicious acts, but what are we instinctively looking for? Exemplified by the media's profiling of Muslims this decade
- Book by David A. Harris, Profiles in Injustice
- What if it could stop the next attack? Would it be worth it?
- Questionable whether it infringes on civil liberties as outlined in the constitution.
- Does the current use of racial profiling set a dangerous precedent? Could another catastrophe or economic recession or depression lead us to another race, religion or ethnicity to profile?
Examples in the news:
- In 2006, Imams, dressed in Western clothing were pulled off a US Airways flight.
- Wikipedia page on Racial Profiling
- Definition of Racial Profiling by the ACLU
- About.com's section on Racial Profiling after 9/11