I was recently asked by CNN to Tweet my opinion on racial profiling. That got me thinking a little deeper about the subject. Tonight I have been talking to some of my Twitter followers about my opinions and realized I needed more than 140 characters to express my opinion since Twitter limits me to only 140 characters.
Quite simply I feel that racial profiling is very wrong and it can actually hurt our security. All over the internet people are demanding that we start racial profiling. People feel that concentrating on one type of person (normally middle eastern male in his early to middle 20’s) will make us safer. Here are the reasons why I don’t agree:
* The guy who just tried to blow up Delta flight 253 was Nigerian and he would not have fit into the typical “racial profiling” that people are looking to have. A real profiler should have seen he paid in cash, had no ID, and I am guessing showed signs of being nervous.
* If we did discriminate people based on race, wouldn’t terrorist groups just use people of different races? Remember John Walker Lindh? The American citizen who was captured in 2001 and was being trained by Al-Qaeda? With a nice shave and haircut he would NEVER be racially profiled at an airport. I am sure he is not the only person training with Al-Qaeda that doesn’t match the proper “profile.” While we spend time, effort and money training people to racially profile, terrorists will spend time training people that don’t fit that profile.
* As I said in my Tweet to CNN, we don’t need more security, but smarter security. Part of the smart is getting people who are highly trained to detect a person who is about to kill himself and a few hundred other people. No matter how much they hate America or are ready to die for their cause, that is going to make anyone a little nervous. Professional (not the people making ~$35k with a TSA patch on their shoulder) profilers are able to tell the difference between someone who is nervous to fly and someone nervous that their bomb won’t go off.
* It is just wrong. Even if I honestly thought racially profiling passengers would increase my security, I would rather be less secure than participate in a system that places people into categories based on their race. We have worked very hard as a society for the past 50+ years for racial equality and this would be a HUGE step backwards.
* Will it spread? I hate the saying “it’s a slippery slope” but it kind of works here. If we start racially profiling with flying, then why not with shoplifting or with jay-walking? I am NOT ok with even thinking about what precedent it could set.
I have seen the quote from Benjamin Franklin a lot today (mostly thanks to FlightWisdom) and it is perfect for this concept: “Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither.”
Ok discussion time, what are your thoughts?
Thanks Rita for taking the picture