Monday, August 21, 2006

Stay Away from Racial and Religious Profiling

Although the Bush administration is noted for aggressively endorsing unconstitutional methods as critical tools in its declared war on terror, so far it has apparently stayed away from techniques based on racial, ethnic, and religious profiling.

In the wake of the alleged massive terror plot uncovered in the United Kingdom, Representative Peter King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, thinks selected groups of people should undergo extra security checks at the airports. Newsday reports that King doesn't think "political correctness should hamper airport screens. King has gone so far as to endorse "people of "Middle Eastern and South Asian" descent to undergo additional security checks because of their ethnicity and religion."

King argued, "if the threat is coming from a particular group, I can understand why it would make sense to single them out for further questioning."

I am not sure what Peter King smokes, but I do see some clouded judgment there.

And he's not alone. His juvenile sentiments are recently shared by the conservative Talk Show host Mike Gallagher. In a recent debate in Fox News' Dayside, Gallagher said, "It’s time to have a Muslims check-point line in American airports and have Muslims be scrutinized. You better believe it. It’s time."

If I am not mistaken I have come across equally fascinating views echoed in Blogcritics and Desicritics where I often contribute. And I won't be wrong in my assessment that a large number of people do find the opinions of Peter King and Mike Gallagher acceptable. Now, Peter King and Mike Gallagher may not be racists and neither the people who agree or tend to agree with them. It seems to me that this is an issue of why not? After all, isn't it factually correct that most terrorists are Muslims?

Last year, when New York's mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered random searches of subway passengers after the tube bombings in London that killed 53 people, two city councilmen urged police not to waste their time by searching people who are visibly not a threat when the real threat comes from men of Middle Eastern and Asian men.

The Newsday report also mentions that the U.S. Justice Department issued a policy three years ago banning racial profiling, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is quoted as saying, "I think that, you know, taking action against someone solely because of their race and solely because of their religion I think is problematic." As Senor Gonzales is one of the chief advocates of illegal practices adopted by the Bush Government his stand in this issue calls for some close scrutiny. Gonzales thinks the practice is problematic. He doesn't think that it is flat out and fundamentally wrong. May be he means so but doesn't explicitly say so.

What exactly does he think is problematic about the practice, if may I ask? Is it an ethical and moral problem? Or is it a problem because it's illegal and unconstitutional? For all I know, Senor Gonzales cares about the law and constitution as much as Ahmadinejad cares about the Jews and Israel.

Maybe Gonzales believes it poses a logistical problem. Maybe he's realized that it is an ineffective weapon and will totally alienate the moderate Muslims whose support is sorely needed to win this war on terror, and therefore shouldn't be pursued. If so, it's not bad for someone whose track record on protecting freedom and civil liberties is as glorious as that of Bud Selig protecting Baseball from steroids.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

In Martin Luther King Jr.'s test, the Bush administration and its loyal supporters like Peter King have failed miserably. The least they could do now is save themselves from further delusional thoughts.

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