2004 November 21 Sunday
Heather Mac Donald: Opposition To Religious Profiling Hampers Anti-terrorist Defenses

In the City Journal Heather Mac Donald has a long and excellent article about the restrictions on religious and ethnic profiling and how those obstacles are making it difficult for law enforcement personnel to prevent terrorist attacks. Among the many stupid policies of the United States government are legal actions by the US Department of Transportation against airlines for alleged discrimination against Arabs and other Muslims.

The anti-discrimination hammer has hit the airline industry most severely—and with gruesome inappropriateness, given the realities of 9/11 and the Islamists' enduring obsession with airplanes. Department of Transportation lawyers have extracted millions in settlements from four major carriers for alleged discrimination after 9/11, and they have undermined one of the most crucial elements of air safety: a pilot's responsibility for his flight. Because the charges against the airlines were specious but successful, every pilot must worry that his good-faith effort to protect his passengers will trigger federal retaliation.

The DoT action against American Airlines was typical. In the last four months of 2001, American carried 23 million passengers and asked ten of them (.00004 percent of the total) not to board because they raised security concerns that could not be resolved in time for departure. For those ten interventions (and an 11th in 2002), DoT declared American a civil rights pariah, whose discriminatory conduct would "result in irreparable harm to the public" if not stopped.

On its face, the government's charge that American was engaged in a pattern of discriminatory conduct was absurd, given how few passenger removals occurred. But the racism allegation looks all the more unreasonable when put in the context of the government's own actions. Three times between 9/11 and the end of 2001, public officials warned of an imminent terror attack. Transportation officials urged the airlines to be especially vigilant. In such an environment, pilots would have been derelict not to resolve security questions in favor of caution.

Somehow, DoT lawyers failed to include in their complaint one further passenger whom American asked not to board in 2001. On December 22, airline personnel in Paris kept Richard Reid off a flight to Miami. The next day, French authorities insisted that he be cleared to board. During the flight, Reid tried to set off a bomb in his shoe, but a stewardess and passengers foiled him. Had he been kept from flying on both days, he too might have ended up on the government's roster of discrimination victims.

Heather says the government "civil rights" (and I quote that since they aren't really defending civil rights) establishment doesn't want to admit that, hey, Muslim terrorism is commited by (are you ready for this?) Muslims. No, Muslim terrorism is not carried out by Zoroastrians. Nope, it is not perpetrated by worshippers of Kali or Vishnu or even of Mahasamatman (and will anyone even get that reference?). Nor is planned and executed by Mormons. None of those guys. Its the Muslims stupid.

Any discussion about how the government should identify Muslim terror suspects has been couched as a referendum on "racial profiling." But "racial profiling" is irrelevant. What is at issue is religious profiling. By definition—by Usama bin Ladin's own definition when he called on all Muslims to kill Americans wherever they can find them—Muslim terrorists must be Muslim. Because religious identity is not always apparent, however, national origin or ethnic heritage should be available as surrogates. Needless to say, Muslim identity should be at most only one factor in assessing someone's security risk. Unfortunately, the much-heralded 9/11 Commission report, while correctly naming the nation's primary threat as "Islamist terrorism," contains not one word about what the proper role of Muslim identity should be in locating such terrorists, a topic evidently too hot to touch.

Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta and some of Satan's Helpers at the American Civil Liberties Union are major players in the evil quest to prevent Americans from being properly defended against Muslim terrorism. But of course George W. Bush bears the blame for appointing Mineta and allowing him to act like such an evil moron. At the same time, all of Lucifer's minions who donate money to the ACLU help to fund the Devil's work in this realm. So there is a big cast of morally defective supporting characters who will some day take their places in various of Dante's circles in hell.

Transportation Department secretary Norman Mineta bears much of the responsibility for the government's irrationality regarding airline security. He infamously maintained in an interview that a grandmother from Vero Beach, Florida, should receive the same scrutiny at the airport as a young Saudi male, and he constantly warns that domestic internment—as in World War II—may be just around the corner. And behind Mineta stands a permanent civil rights bureaucracy fixated on American racism. The same Transportation Department lawyer, for example, who complained in 1997 that the early prototype of CAPPS I might pull out "too many" people of the same ethnicity—Sam Podberesky—led the recent discrimination actions against the airlines. Without strong intervention from Mineta, DoT's anti-discrimination machine, like most of those in the government, would run on autopilot, even though its priorities have been proved disastrously wrong.

In the government's wake, the private civil rights bar, led by the ACLU, has brought its own airline discrimination suits. An action against Northwest Airlines is seeking government terror watch lists, Northwest's boarding procedures, and its cabin training manual. If these materials got loose, they would be gold to terrorists trying to figure out airline security procedures.

Norm should be interned for dereliction of duty. No, wait, that is not right. He didn't just neglect his duty. He betrayed it and worked against it.

Be sure to read Heather's full article if you want to learn more reasons to be enraged at the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of modern liberalism in both its left-liberal and Trotskyite neocon variants.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 November 21 02:38 AM  Terrorists Western Response


Comments
gcochran said at November 21, 2004 11:01 AM:

Lord of Light

Randall Parker said at November 21, 2004 11:19 AM:

Greg, Glad to know that I'm not the only one who found the book memorable.

Jack said at November 21, 2004 12:22 PM:

I was just about to reply about the Zelazny reference, but I see two of you beat me to it. I first read 'Lord of Light' when I was about 12 years old, and I've reread it every couple of years since. I put it and quite a few other of Zelazny's books on my top shelf of sci-fi.

Anyone read 'Creatures of Light and Darkness'? It's vaguely similar to 'LOL' in concept, but with an Egyptian pantheon. Very different storyline though.

The Hindus seem to be very good natured about their pantheon being used for a work of fiction (!), other religions wouldn't be so understanding. Why, just telling the *truth* about the wrong religion can get you killed these days.

Invisible Scientist said at November 21, 2004 12:48 PM:

Part of the problem is that the current tension between East and West, is still seen
as a political or economic war, instead of primarily being a religious war. (I mean
the western nations still have the illusion that it is not primarily a religious war.)
This is why the opponents of religious profiling are appalled that this is even considered,
since they think that religion is not the central issue in this conflict.

During the previous century, the conflict was initially for race (fascism during the first half of the
last century), and later then for economic policy and finance (communism against capitalism during the cold war.)
But this time the war is for the conquest of the human soul, religion.

For instance, during the 1930s, the Nazi leader Joseph Goebbels said
that "The French intellectuals don't understand our
new German philosophy and politics. By saying that Germany is persecuting the Jews because of
their religion, they are accusing us of being backward, closed minded, barbaric and unintellectual. But nothing can
be further from the truth, we are not unintellectual or closed minded: we are not persecuting the Jews because
of their religion, we are persecuting them for their race!"

Right now, it's the other way around. The intolerance is not based on race, but religion.

John S Bolton said at November 21, 2004 2:19 PM:

The propriety of discrimination needs to be reasserted; there is, by now, far too much death and destruction of civilization occurring for lack of discrimination. Those who are against prejudice, contradict themselves to intellectual insolvency, if they are also non-judgemental, as all materialistic determinists must be. This is so, because prejudgement is only premature if we owe it to others, to give them our judgement of them. There is no duty to get to know everyone; even less so is there a duty to become perfectly familiar with those of different race, for racial reasons. It is not our responsibility to judge people in all but a few cases out of the multitude of possible ones. Therefore, also, there can be no great problem of prejudgement or prejudice, in all but the rare instances where it is our actual responsibility to judge an individual. Prejudice thus cannot be an important determining factor explaining much about interpersonal and intercommunal relations. The abysmal contradiction involved in people saying that it is your duty to spend the time needed to avoid prejudging their natures, as if judgement were the objective; and at the same time insisting on non-judgementalism, should be obvious.

Invisible Scientist said at November 21, 2004 9:53 PM:

The problem with this war, is that the adversary of the Western civilization, wants to make
use like them: intolerant and ruthless. There is some kind of psychology going on here.
This is where the real danger is. The 9/11 attack was a calculated provocation.

Invisible Scientist said at November 21, 2004 9:54 PM:

The problem with this war, is that the adversary of the Western civilization, wants to make
use like them: intolerant and ruthless. There is some kind of psychology going on here.
This is where the real danger is. The 9/11 attack was a calculated provocation.

Invisible Scientist said at November 21, 2004 10:00 PM:

The problem with this war, is that the adversary of the Western civilization, wants to make
use like them: intolerant and ruthless. There is some kind of psychology going on here.
This is where the real danger is. The 9/11 attack was a calculated provocation.

John S Bolton said at November 23, 2004 3:35 AM:

How do you like that; liberal cliches in triplicate, no less. As if foreigners suffering from racial discrimination at the hands of private parties could be proven to be cases of actual aggression, but terror-bombings were non-aggression. Not to mention pacifism; don't become like the aggressor by fighting back, as if there were no possibility of distinguishing between aggression and the response to it. Our fighting back, would largely amount to treating the moslems as wild animals to be fenced out. Is insult to the moslem somehow worse than actual aggression?

Invisible Scientist said at November 23, 2004 10:26 AM:

John S Bolton:
To avoid a misunderstanding: I was just trying to say that one of the goals of the fanatic adversaries we are
facing, is that they want to make us like themselves. I am not saying that we should not have responded to 9/11
just because it was a calculated provocation, but I am saying that all our reactions must be calculated
according to the fact that we were being intentionally drawn into a guerilla war, where we will be forced
to do terrible things, as part of the trap. We need to find a way to subvert the provocation, find a creative
way to deal with it. Right now, we are not fencing out the adversary, but we are going to their place where
we can be trapped.

Tom West said at November 25, 2004 10:42 AM:

Odd, but I suspect that you would not appreciate being held responsible for actions that you have no power over. It's the terrorist's way to attack innocents who are related by nationality or religion. Is it to become the way of the United States to persecute those who are related to its enemies by religion and nothing else? Obviously it is far less of a crime than that of the terrorists, but the costs are *extremely* steep, and may last generations. It's no coincidence that countries that do practice such tactics, for *good or bad* reason, have generally fallen by the wayside. Do you think it a coincidence that America is (was) one of the most free countries and is also the strongest? Even when those freedoms looked like they could endanger the country itself?

As for fencing "them" out. Unless you plan to see the United States *radically* restructured, it's far too late for that. Welcome to the global world. You can sever the links between you and anywhere, but there's a thousand indirect links to circumvent it. And now, isolation means economic destruction. You might as well try and be a hermit in New York...

Randall Parker said at November 25, 2004 12:22 PM:

Tom,

The vast bulk of the terrorists who want to attack the United States are currently not in the United States. If we keep them from coming here in the first place then we avert a large number of attacks.

We do not have to isolate ourselves. We just have to control our borders and be more selective about who we let in. The selectivity doesn't have to interfere with, to take two large notable examples, our trade with China or Japan because few Chinese or Japanese are Muslims.

As for your first point about the costs: The costs of the last successful attack were several thousand dead, more injured, and at least $100 billion in economic costs.

You say:

It's no coincidence that countries that do practice such tactics, for *good or bad* reason, have generally fallen by the wayside.

The French practice very aggressive profiling. With such a large Muslim population they do not have the luxury of being impractical. But they haven't "fallen by the wayside". By many reports I've heard from Americans, Brits, and Germans who live in France it is in many respects a pretty nice and free place to live - at least if you stay away from the Muslim areas.

Compare the French profiling with the American practice: Millions of Americans are hassled in airports daily because the government refuses to profile. In the name of freedom little old ladies from Des Moines get pulled out of lines to go through special screening. Political consultants who are taking lots of one-way flights bouncing around the country are being denied boarding because of their suspicious flight profiles (which are not allowed to take account of ethnicity or religious affiliations). The stories are legion. We are getting all this inflicted upon us because people like you think profiling is worse than harassing millions of people in the name of equality. Are you crazy? Are you just bonkers nuts politically correct? How can you support inflicting this crap on the American public in the name of equality?

Tom West said at November 25, 2004 2:29 PM:

How can you support inflicting this crap on the American public in the name of equality?

Simply because the effect on society on inflicting "that crap" on an identified subset is substantial and can last a lot longer than the original problem. Problems of racism have cost a lot more than 3,000 lives and $100B dollars over the generations.

Do I deny that profiling makes us safer? No. But there are a lot of actions that would make America safer that would leave psychic scars so deep that they would not, in the end, be worth the safety the action bought. (Half a dozen nuclear bursts would end both the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons and the impression of American benevolence towards mankind forever.)

Racism begins when you attribute characteristics to an individual based on characteristics attributed to a group. Profiling *is* racism. And by having the government officially sanction that racism, you make it clear to all your citizenry that particular groups (not individuals) *are* undesirable. Government sanction doesn't determine people's reactions, but it does reinforce them in ways that will be with us long after the War on Terror is won.

I reserve the right to change my opinion in the event of another incident. At some point, the safety may become worth the cost. But not yet. We're not losing.

Randall Parker said at November 26, 2004 1:34 PM:

Tom,

You say:

Simply because the effect on society on inflicting "that crap" on an identified subset is substantial and can last a lot longer than the original problem. Problems of racism have cost a lot more than 3,000 lives and $100B dollars over the generations.

Do I deny that profiling makes us safer? No. But there are a lot of actions that would make America safer that would leave psychic scars so deep that they would not, in the end, be worth the safety the action bought. (Half a dozen nuclear bursts would end both the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons and the impression of American benevolence towards mankind forever.)

As I see it we have three choices:

1) In the name of treating everyone equal watch everyone. There are not enough police and other law enforcement people to do that of of course.

2) Use statistical information that predicts who is more likely to be a terrorist or criminal. Watch those people more.

3) Don't watch anyone.

So are you in favor of number 1 or number 3?

Tom West said at November 26, 2004 4:59 PM:

First, my choice is for (1). Watching is not binary, it's a continuum. Watching more people doesn't mean that no watching is done, it merely means that it is done less thoroughly. I've already acknowledged that profiling would make us more secure. (Although that fact is in some dispute. There are a number of papers indicating how terrorists could use profiling to almost *ensure* they're not being watched...)

I should mention that I have no problem with profiling based on foreign citizenship. The corrosive effects of profiling really begin to show up with we're looking at the government saying "certain of our citizens are *inherently* less trustworthy than others".

For what it's worth, I've noticed many of the men who support profiling in this case get quite upset at the idea of the "Every man is a potential rapist" school of the "Prevention of Violence against Women" movement. Funny how profiling isn't the same when one's the target. I'm not suggesting that you are part of that group, but it's one of the only ways that white males are indeed profiled, and many find the experience upsetting.


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