December 11, 2010
Ending the TSA Madness: Listen Up, Folks, Here's How You Win the Profiling Debate
One thing that saddens me about the TSA security controversy is that we're missing a great opportunity. Sure, the insanity of patting down three-year-old, blonde-haired lasses and octogenarian grandmothers with prostheses has caused a great backlash, as more and more people are realizing that our government's common sense-blind approach is born of a deadly allegiance to political correctness. In fact, I've even heard a few usually very careful pundits float the idea that we should think about profiling Muslims. Unfortunately, though, they invariably drop the ball in the debate.
The problem is that they don't believe they occupy the moral high ground. Instilled with the idea that advocating "racial profiling" (a propaganda term) amounts to bigotry, they generally back down as soon as someone looks askance at their suggestion. This is especially frustrating to me because I've long been promulgating an airtight argument that not only refutes the racial-profiling propaganda, but also illustrates why the moral high ground actually belongs to our side. So I'll present the argument again in the hope that it will now receive a better reception. Here it is:
Actually, what is discriminatory is to not profile Muslims. Why? Well, consider that group-specific profiling is nothing unusual; for instance, law enforcement looks more suspiciously upon men and young people because those groups commit an inordinate amount of crime. Yet do we hear complaints of "sex profiling" or "age profiling"? Of course not, as we know that such practices are just common sense. But if this standard can be applied to men and youth, it's only fair and just to apply the exact same standard to all other groups that commit an inordinate amount of a given crime. And when we refuse to do so -- when we say that certain groups must receive a special dispensation from life's realities because they enjoy privileged status -- that is where the real discrimination lies. That is what's unfair. That is a travesty of justice.
Now, contrary to popular belief, fellow politics wonks and pundits, no one has to pay me royalties when using the above. There's no truth to that rumor whatsoever. In all seriousness, though, the argument isn't the greatest thing since Aristotle; it's just common sense. And this is why the fact that it's so uncommon is so distressing. Because the argument does have one great flaw: It works only when used.
Of course, if we want to deepen understanding of profiling further, we could point out that there's no such thing as "racial profiling." Rather, there are only two types of profiling:
Good profiling and bad profiling.
You see, profiling is simply a method by which law enforcement can determine the probability that an individual has committed a crime or has criminal intent. And when making this determination, good profiling considers many different factors, such as dress, behavior, the car being driven, tattoos, sex, age, race, and ethnicity. Whatever the details, however, good profiling is practiced in accordance with sound criminological science. And what happens when we refuse to consider certain factors in deference to political correctness, social concerns, or "feelings"?
It becomes bad profiling.
It becomes unfair.
It becomes a mockery.
It becomes the TSA.
Conclusion: When rooting out terrorists, profiling Muslims is the right thing to do.
It is the moral thing to do.
It is the only thing to do.
And what if CAIR and other Islamist sympathizers are offended? Too bad. Did moral men or youths ever complain about the profiling of their group? For that matter, do we hear shouts of "racial profiling" when whites are targeted (e.g., when they cruise inner-city neighborhoods in nice cars, they are often suspected of wanting to buy drugs)? There's only one set that should take exception to the fair and equitable application of criminological science: criminals. As for me, I have no problem with my group being profiled as long as the same standard is applied to all other higher-crime-incidence groups. And if CAIR will not say the same, they arouse suspicion and deserve more scrutiny themselves.
Now, at this point, the critics are often left with just one argument. They like to say that profiling is a waste of time because if we target a certain group, the terrorists will simply use members of a different group in their operations. Okay, now, how is this supposed to work? Do telemarketers call people and say (cue the professional infomercial voice), "Hello, sir, how would you like to sacrifice your life for the jihadist cause today? We're prepared to offer you a trip straight to Paradise where you'll be met by 72 voluptuous virgins! But respond now, because this offer expires December 12!"?
The critics have it exactly backwards. It's virtually impossible to convince a normal person to kill himself to destroy others (unless, that is, you can first convince him to convert to Islam); it's very easy to convince a person who is willing to kill himself to destroy others to do so in a different way. So the truth is that if we focus on methods, the terrorists will just change their methods. (As to this, it has been discovered that al-Qaeda hopes to surgically implant bombs in terrorists.) Methods don't have a will; people do. Methods don't reject agendas; people do. Conclusion? It's a waste of time to focus solely on methods. We must focus on people.
Yes, on people, in just the way we do when the higher-crime-incidence group is men, youths, or whites. Of course -- and those on the left who believe the Constitution is malleable ought to love this -- a profile is a living, breathing thing. It's not set in stone. If the facts on the ground change -- if, let's say, massive numbers of alabaster-skinned, Christian Norwegians become suicide bombers -- the profile will change. As of now, however, those willing to sacrifice themselves to blow up an airplane are 100 percent of the time Muslim and 99 percent of the time non-white. That's called a strong correlation. That's called the world's most specific profile. It's called something you ignore at your own peril.
So this is how you win the profiling debate. Memorize the block-quoted argument in the third paragraph -- verbatim if necessary. Then, don't just use it; shout it from the mountaintops. Hang it around the left's neck. You must be just as vocal and zealous about spreading the Truth as the destroyers of civilization are about spreading lies. And it shouldn't be difficult. Unlike liberals, you're not asking for special treatment -- just equal treatment. And unlike CAIR and its enablers, you're not asking for TSA dhimmitude for infidels -- just a little fidelity from your government.