Profile in Cowardice
Ah, the joys of political correctness! No matter how many times we get mugged, maimed or killed by individuals with identifiable characteristics, we must check the rulebook before taking precautions. Would anyone question the black American experience for a hundred years of post-bellum savagery at the hands of many white Americans? Would anyone question the mothers of African American girls as recently as 1960 warning their precious daughters to avoid places where white boys, drunk or sober might congregate or even drive by? Do you think European Jews in the 1930s might have benefitted from more realistic profiling of the Nazis? Yet look at the harm done by the paranoid antisemites unjustly profiling the Jews.
Profiling is the ultimate in double-edged swords. Nearly all human reasoning begins with some tentative generalization. Only rarely are generalizations completely accurate. Are all lions dangerous? Are most lions dangerous? Are individual wolves dangerous? How about wolfpacks? One often hears about the mythical "exception that proves the rule." A complete oxymoron; it never happened. Most general rules turn out to be statistical observations. So if "many" muggers share some characteristic, not implied by being a mugger, when does "many" actually take on statistical significance? How high must that significance be to generate justifiable fear rather than "mere" paranoia?
These questions are sometimes easy and sometimes not, as the examples show. When situations are complicated by racial or cultural differences, the danger of prejudice overtaking logical reasoning demands extra vigilance.
Here in America, one of the sadder legacies of centuries of racial prejudice is the confusion between racial profiling, which is based on DNA, and cultural profiling, which is based on current environmental factors. Hoodies and ghetto English have nothing to do with DNA. Yet there seems to be a strong correlation between certain dress and speech patterns and racial heritage. In the past, when mobility was insignificant, the ties between culture and DNA were strong. Why do they remain strong in an era of mass communication when moves of thousands of miles are routine? Whether it comes to private or police profiling, this is a problem which needs to be addressed openly and with compassion, if racial wounds are to be healed.
As bad as these racial/cultural wounds are, there is a danger which dwarfs them. That danger is barely allowed to be named in public discourse. The simplest name is Islamic terrorism. Before anyone accuses me of Islamophobia, I admit that I fear Islam. Islam is a religion. But it is also a culture and a political system. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, the religion of Islam neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket. The culture and geo-politics of Islam kill and rob me. A large percent of all Moslems view themselves as being at war with Jews, Christians, and Western Culture. So one question we must face is how much profiling of individual Moslems is justified? According to liberals, the answer is none. According to some conservatives, the answer is that all young Moslem males should be considered dangerous until proven otherwise. This conservative is in that camp. The war between Islam and the West is a topic for entire books. Arguably that war will be more easily won by the West in the long run if terrorists succeed more often in the short run. But the immediate price in human life is too high. If strict profiling can save lives, it should be the rule.
The blindness of the Obama administration on Islamic profiling is almost as threatening as the terrorists themselves. Usually they are unwilling even to discuss the need for Islamic profiling. They do not acknowledge that much of Islam is at war with us.
How strange it is then that suddenly they seem to have been seized with fear. Due to some unspecified chatter heard online and maybe other intelligence too, they have closed for business American embassies and consulates in some twenty Arab countries. Alone in the Middle East, the Embassy in Jerusalem (oops, I mean Tel Aviv, in defiance of U.S. law) remains open.
After the Benghazi fiasco (aka phony scandal), it is understandable that cowardly Obama political advisors have convinced their dear leader to fear the political fallout from a new attack in any Islamic country in the Middle East or beyond. No doubt it is just this one time that we will profile Islam. We will suspend the anti-profiling rules just this once in order to save those rules for the future. Meanwhile every American who gets on a plane is made less safe by TSA anti-profiling policies. Is there no limit to the hypocrisy the American people will stand for? What about the members of Congress we elected? What about the press? If you are reading this, at least AmericanThinker readers will have heard the question asked.