Monday, August 01, 2005

Physical Profiling - Redux

A day after I write about profiling, the Wall Street Journal has an article that is substantially better - spoken by a man who will most likely be profiled.

(Hat Tip: Mom)

Mr. Varadarajan makes a number of excellent points regarding profiling. A couple that stick out:
I am just as concerned about catching terrorists (who may look like me) as anyone else who looks different. I can ask that the searches and scrutiny be done in a professional manner, with no insults and nothing that offends my dignity. I, too, see the absurdity of subjecting Chinese grandmothers to the same level of scrutiny as people from the Indian subcontinent at the airport check-in counter.

These are both excellent points that I did not discuss: Profiling should not be done in an insulting manner - this is obvious; but more importantly, those that are being profiled should recognize that this is not an attack on them, but rather a defense for them. Are not all Muslims, or those resembling Muslims, concerned with terrorism? Don't all citizens want terrorism to be quashed? To accomplish this, we must adjust accordingly:
Terrorism has had many effects on society, and the foremost among them are philosophical, or spiritual. We are now called upon to adjust the way we live and think, and to do so we must also adjust the bandwidth of our tolerance. By this I don't mean that we must be less tolerant of others but that some among us must learn to tolerate -- or put up with -- hardships, inconvenience or a new set of presumptions, given the all-consuming nature of the threat we face, in which "the profiled" and "the profilers" alike are targets.

Finally, we must realize that being watched is not the same as being arrested; being pulled to the side to be searched is not the same as being beaten:
In evaluating the moral fitness of "profiling," I should stress that we are identifying people for scrutiny, not punishment. Recall the fate of Cinna the poet, in the Bard's "Julius Caesar," who is killed by a mob that believes him, because of his name, to be Cinna the conspirator. When scrutiny becomes stigma, and stigma leads to victimization, a clear jump to evil has occurred. This has not happened in America, and must not.

The entire article is excellent, but his conclusion sums it up nicely:
Do I like being profiled? Of course not. But my displeasure is yet another manifestation of the extraordinary power of terrorism. I am not being profiled because of racism but rather because Islamist fanatics have declared war on my society. They are the dark power that leads me to an experience in which my individuality is corroded. This is tragic; but it strengthens my resolve to support the war that seeks to destroy terrorism.

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