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gtreyger's avatar

In light of the recent terrorist attacks what is your opinion on racial profiling?

Asked by gtreyger (1397 points ) December 29th, 2009

There were 6 terrorist acts in the US in the past decade that involved aircraft. All of them were committed by the followers of Islam. What would make you think that racial profiling would be acceptable and what would make you think otherwise?

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39 Answers

DrEldonTyrell's avatar

Yes.

My racial makup is an inextricable component of my profile. Profiling can only be most effective if all parts of one’s profile are used.

janbb's avatar

No – it’s clearly time to stop flying planes.

JesusWasAJewbot's avatar

Theyve been doing it, dont let there whole thing about “now we should start racially profiling” gimmick pass.

dpworkin's avatar

What are you talking about. Do you suppose they don’t keep a closer watch on people from the Middle East? And what on earth do you mean by racial? Skin and eye color? What a nonsense question.

pjanaway's avatar

Not sure if this is true or not, but from what I heard in the US they already pick people of that race out of the crop and check them more than they would to a white person for example.

Flo_Nightengale's avatar

They do it in Israel and they do not have problems.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Hmm… what about all the crimes committed by people who are not of Islam… Are we simply ignoring those?

tinyfaery's avatar

It’s never acceptable. All this bullshit about a “color blind” society is nonsense. This is just one case in point.

woodcutter's avatar

is it really race or more like where a person comes from that gets them the attention?

simpleD's avatar

Everyone needs to be screened equally, thoroughly, and without bias.

DominicX's avatar

I have to agree with @simpleD. That’s the only way to get around it. However, you can’t change people’s feelings. Some people are simply going to be more wary of Middle Easterners traveling on American planes; it might even be subconscious for them.

And even though I don’t agree with racial profiling on principle, I can understand why it’s done. It’s not done because people are racist and believe certain races are inferior (although I’m sure it is in some cases), it’s based on numbers and the likelihood of preventing such attacks.

Flo_Nightengale's avatar

It is not a matter of color, race, or culture when it comes to terrorism. It is a mind set, a belief; the beliefs are dangerous. There are people of all races involved in this mind set.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@DominicX it’s based on numbers
I suppose this is open to argument. I would say the trend seems to be to “count” crimes committed by people who fit the mold (even when they aren’t committing actual crimes we will add them to the stats) while we ignore others (as an example terrorists who are from our own country and are Caucasian).

as well as this:
and the likelihood of preventing such attacks
Most of the data I’ve read suggest racial profiling simply does not work, therefore it isn’t preventing attacks.

Ron_C's avatar

I fly A LOT. When they started the random checks, the random person pulled out of the line was often a little old lady. I think there should be reasonable profiling done to spot check security. Since suicide bombers are either young guys of middle eastern origin or our own home grown middle aged white guys from the northwest, they should be pulled first. People that are black or Puerto Rican should probably be the last to be checked.

Why waste time when everyone went through the main screening process?

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Ron_C
I agree with you.

Ron_C's avatar

@CaptainHarley Thanks. This politically correct search routine is going to get someone killed, some day. We’re paying these clowns at the airport, we might as well get something out of it.

I do not, however, miss the minimum wage fat ladies that couldn’t even speak English that were the pre 9–11 screeners. I will admit that the new screeners are more courteous and professional.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Ron_C

Lives will indeed be lost. Just one more reason why I hardly ever fly anymore.

Ron_C's avatar

@CaptainHarley I refuse to allow crazy, stupid terrorists affect my life. I have not, in the least changed my flight schedule to accommodate terrorist threats. In fact, I am more afraid of winter weather and holiday delays than of terrorist attacks.

randomness's avatar

I honestly think racial profiling is ridiculous. Lets create a hypothetical situation. A white guy bombs an important landmark in the US. Do you think it would be fair for the US to then cavity search every white man, woman and child who flies in America? Heck no.

Also, if white guys start blowing stuff up, there is no way in hell that the government would start searching all white people, and trampling on their rights. It’s not okay to harass people, but then again, in the eyes of the government I suppose brownish people who believe in a different god aren’t really people, are they?

RedPowerLady's avatar

@randomness Nice example.
I did have a bit of a chuckle though if white guys start blowing stuff up
Since when do they not?

Flo_Nightengale's avatar

Tim McVeigh!!

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Ron_C

All well and good, bro, but I don’t NEED to fly. I’m retired, so no one can send me anywhere on a work assignment. For the last three years, if I can’t get there by Harley, I just don’t GO! : D

randomness's avatar

@RedPowerLady I know they blow up stuff. They blow up stuff more than their middle eastern counterparts. They just haven’t blown stuff up in the US (obviously US victims are more important than others…), at least recently anyway.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@randomness So white people don’t blow things up in the U.S.??
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_McVeigh

jca's avatar

Since Al Qaeda keeps taking responsibility for the attempts and the terrorist acts, and Al Qaeda guys are middle easterners, i say do the racial profiling. if we have to give up something like a civil liberty and if it helps the safety of airline passengers in general, then do it. if the majority of attempts and terrorist attacks were being done by blonde haired girls, then we should do racial profiling and scrutinize them. nothing against muslims, but if Al Qaeda is declaring a war on America or whatever, then go for the dark skinned muslim looking types.

simpleD's avatar

@jca: So we give up the “civil liberty” of non-discrimination, Al Qaeda recruits more light-skinned martyrs, and we lose on both counts. Again, there’s no logic in singling out any group based on skin and clothing. Anyone can bomb a plane.

filmfann's avatar

I think it’s crazy not to use racial profiling here, but keep in mind that not everyone who is a muslim is of middle east descent.

dalepetrie's avatar

FWIW, here’s a great article on the odds of being affected by terrorism while flying. Seems like a very inconsequential reason to institutionalize racism.

Ron_C's avatar

To everyone that says to use racial profiling: That is absolutely wrong. If you notice, the pictures of the 9–11 bombing and the Timothy McVeigh, the murders were clean shaven and mostly western looking. When I said that I support profiling I suggest doing it the way the Israelis do it. Look at the country of origin and destination, the way people act and answer questions. Look at what they are carrying. I also like the limit on carry-on baggage. I’ve been on flights where the overhead bin fill before half the plane has boarded. I think that is just discourteous to the other passengers.

randomness's avatar

@RedPowerLady I’m aware of this.That’s why I made a point of saying “recently”. Things like 9/11 and the London bombings are fresh in people’s minds, the Oklahoma city bombings… not so much at the moment.

janbb's avatar

I think my husband had the best comment of all on the money that is being and will now be spent on enhanced security measures. If all that money could be used to solve some of the much more significant problems that we have – disease, world-wide poverty, climate change…....

Ron_C's avatar

@janbb Your husband is a wise man. I expect that there would be more people saved and fewer suicide murders if that policy was in place. I have always believed that if there was a public secular education system open to boys and girls, there would be fewer religious fanatics.

Fundamentalist religion flourishes under ignorance and suppression. That is the only universal constant. We can see it in our own country. When the people are educated and financially comfortable, religion becomes a social rather than a philosophical community. Only under adversity does radical religion function and thrive.

ETpro's avatar

You need to think profiling though. Will it really make us safer, or put us more at risk? Would pulling aside every male with Arabic looks or last name and searching them, questioning them, treating them with suspicion be likely to make it easier or harder for Al Qaeda to radicalize Muslims? Like torture, some “keep us safe” ideas should be rejected not only because they are morally repugnant but because the bottom line is they actually do more harm than good.

Ron_C's avatar

@ETpro I’m not saying to pull the aside for interrogation. I am just saying to develop a way to monitor their activities and to confront those people that present the greatest risk. I also know that it is very difficult to prove a negative but use the example of the traffic cop. He doesn’t accuse you of anything but approaches your car with caution because you never know when the crazy guy will turn up. If the Israelis can do it, I don’t see why we can’t. Please note that this is not restrictive compared with policies in the Middle East where you cannot enter the country if you have an Israeli stamp on your passport.

I am not a big supporter of Israel but I have to admit that they handle airport security quite well.

ETpro's avatar

I totally agree that there could be a logical level of scrutiny short of the no-fly list. The Christmas Day bomber should have set off enough red flags to get the level of questioning and search that would have easily exposed his plot. I caught a flight out of Jerusalem once, and an airport security officer spent about 10 minutes talking to me as I waited in the check-in line. She moved on to the next person only after she was satisfied I posed no threat.

If a security officer had confronted Abdulmutallab, just a few questions would have probably had him obviously showing fear and stammering for answers.

Ron_C's avatar

The Israeli method seems better than having a bunch of TSA guys standing around the x-ray machines.

ETpro's avatar

Absolutely. Her questions were not obtrusive or ugly at all. For instance, had Abdulmutallab been asked the perfectly reasonable questions like, “Where will you be staying in the USA?” and What will you be doing while in the USA?” and “What are your plans for 2010?” he would not have had answers, as he fully expected to be dead before the dawn of the next day.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@dalepetrie GA!

@randomness Sorry but I beg to disagree. “white people” bomb things and commit heinous crimes all the time, after all that is one of our largest populations in America. It is just framed differently by the media and not so extensively covered so we view it differently. Having said that I don’t think we are on the opposite sides of the fence, just a point I felt like making I suppose.

@janbb good point.

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