Racial profiling is all the rage for conservatives these days. It has always been a part of their reactionary repertoire but in the wake of Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab’s failed Christmas Day attack they are publicly arguing for its inclusion in TSA standard security procedures.
I wrote in my last post about the real problems facing our security, such as Republican Senator of South Carolina, Jim DeMint, preventing the confirmation of the president’s TSA chief nominee because of his fear of TSA workers organizing as a union. The renewed call for racial profiling is but another case of the reactionary band aid being applied to a bullet wound that makes conservative foreign policy a sick joke. Why can’t we have an honest discussion about what the motivations and demands of these groups are? We’re given childish catchphrases like ‘they hate our freedom’. Are we really expected to believe something like this? David Cross said it best, “If the terrorists hated freedom, the Netherlands would be fucking dust.”
Instead of treating the actual problem we treat the symptoms. We take our shoes off in airport security to make sure we don’t have chemistry sets packed away in them. We have reams of paper filled with names of people who are not allowed to fly. We aren’t allowed to carry any liquids of more than 3 ounces. Now because of an underwear bomb our underwear will of course become searchable with body scanners being put into place at some major airports. It follows that 20 years from now we’ll board planes after being given polygraph tests, stripped naked, chained to the floor, and attached with taser collars. But at least we’ll be able to invade any country we want, kill anything that moves, and drain every drop of oil we find. That is hyperbolic, however it only serves to illustrate that when someone attempts to disrupt our lives we can’t create a security measure that simply tries to block that specific attempt from succeeding. We need to take steps to understand the problem and find out what can be done to assuage the situation. Sometimes that may mean that America can’t do whatever it wants.
Newt Gingrich has said, because of their reluctance to institute racial profiling, that the Obama administration has shown that “protecting the rights of terrorists has been more important than protecting the lives of Americans.” This was dovetailed by Fox News host Alisyn Camerota, when talking of Gingrich’s “plan” she said, “But somebody who’s let say been in Yemen in the past year. I’d say profile them. Profile them! What’s wrong with that?” Well, let’s see Alisyn, it’s a huge waste of time and easily defeated. If I wanted to attack the country and knew that you were looking for that, I’d simply send someone who hadn’t been to Yemen in the past year.
There’s no secret handshake that we can learn to identify terrorists, no tattoo they are all emblazoned with, no single country or race, and as much as conservatives wish it, no religion either that you can single out as the “enemy”. Muslims make up 1/6 of the world’s population and people of all races and countries can be found practicing this religion. To think that one can identify the very few out of this absolutely huge population who want to attack us by some arbitrary measurement such as “[scrutinizing] anybody with the name Abdul or Ahmed or Mohammed” is so mind-numbingly stupid that it defies explanation. When radio host Mike Gallagher said this do you think he bothered to realize that those are the most common names in the world? Do you think islamophobe and Representative Peter King thought beyond his kneejerk reaction when he said, “So why we should not be profiling people because of their religion?” Of course not.
I’ve attacked them for this already but do these “deficit hawks” even realize what programs of this magnitude would cost? Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney thinks “[i]f you are an 18 to 28-year-old Muslim man, then you should be strip searched. And if we don’t do that, there’s a very high probability we’re going to lose an airliner.” Do these people realize that all their plans might as well not exist if a white woman named Shirley tried a similar attack? Would we then add “Shirley” to the names-to-scrutinize list? Would Shirley’s religion of choice then have to be adopted into terror watch lists?
These tactics aren’t going to solve our problems and they wont protect us from terrorism. They are only intended as a distraction and a divider. Americans will be less likely to realize the crimes we are committing in the Middle East if we are divided amongst ourselves by constantly looking over our shoulder at some person of color who may or may not be a Muslim. Nor will we ever be able to mount a successful challenge to the United States’ policies if we are not united around a common cause of rationally ending terrorism.