Monday, August 01, 2005


Profiling Terrorists

In fighting Islamic terrorism, racial profiling is a practical necessity

Charles Krauthammer wants authorities to screen for terrorists based on practical experience:
The fact is that jihadist terrorism has been carried out from Bali to Casablanca to Madrid to London to New York to Washington by young Muslim men of North African, Middle Eastern and South Asian origin.

This is not a stereotype. It is a simple statistical fact. Yes, you have your shoe-bomber, a mixed-race Muslim convert, who would not fit the profile. But the overwhelming odds are that the guy bent on blowing up your train traces his origins to the Islamic belt stretching from Mauritania to Indonesia.

Yet we recoil from concentrating bag checks on men who might fit this description. Well, if that is impossible for us to do, then let's work backward. Eliminate classes of people who are obviously not suspects.

We could start with a little age pruning -- no one under, say, 13, and no one over, say, 60. Then we could exempt whole ethnic populations, a list that could immediately start with Hispanics, Scandinavians and East Asians. Then we could have a huge saving, a 50 percent elimination of waste, by giving a pass to women, except perhaps the most fidgety, sweaty, suspicious-looking, overcoat-wearing, knapsack-bearing young woman, to be identified by the presiding officer.
Colbert I. King disagrees:
All you need to know is that the culprit who is going to blow you to bits, Krauthammer wrote, "traces his origins to the Islamic belt stretching from Mauritania to Indonesia." For the geographically challenged, Krauthammer's birthplace of the suicide bomber starts with countries in black Africa and stops somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. By his reckoning, the rights and freedoms enjoyed by all should be limited to a select group.
Dave at Oxblog gets it right:
The stakes in this debate are life and death. Thus I believe it is incumbent on those who oppose racial profiling to identify an workable alternative to racial profiling before they demand that it be stopped. Until such an alternative is identified, I think that it is incumbent upon King and others to recognize, as Tunku Varadarajan does, that it is not American racism but Al Qaeda that has forced us to confront that unpleasant choice.


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