Sunday, January 03, 2010

First Good Idea of 2010

Since Muslims took down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, every attack on a commercial airliner has been committed by foreign-born Muslim men with the same hair color, eye color and skin color. Half of them have been named Mohammed.
Ann Coulter

"Profiling” has entered that pantheon of words and phrases (“torture,” “marketplace of ideas,” “compassion,” etc.) the mere utterance of which paralyzes thought.
--Andrew McCarthy

We're paranoid of profiling.
Nolan Finley

In a society where key ideas are muted by concerns over political correctness, being allowed to utter what was forbidden to be uttered only weeks ago can be a sign of dramatic change.

Since Christmas Day 2009, Americans are waking up to the logic of concentrating on the types of people overwhelmingly involved in terrorist attacks against us--instead of assuming that three-year olds and old Irish grandmothers are equally suspect for unleashing the next 9/11. It may still be a thought crime to suggest that we start “profiling,” but it’s no longer a capital thought crime.

Nor, by “profiling,” do we mean simply targeting people for closer scrutiny because they are young, Muslim males, or Arabic. That would be both wrong, and ineffective. Andrew McCarthy explained this a few years back:

The question is this: Are people being entered into the system solely because they happen to be Muslims?

That, of course, would be wrong. But, grousing to the contrary notwithstanding, it does not follow from this premise that it would also be wrong — that it would amount to improper profiling — for police to consider, in addition to other facts, the fact that a person practices Islam. Or that he has “connections to Muslim groups” — especially if we are talking about groups that may have a track record of supporting terrorism.

The issue raised by CAIR and other Islamic groups is that this raises “long-standing fears of unequal treatment” for Muslims. “Of far longer standing, however,” writes McCarthy:

is the fact of life that there is no greater iniquity than treating as equal things which are not. In the consideration of modern terrorism, Muslims and others simply do not stand as equals.

The interest groups would undeniably have a point if the global scourge of terrorism cut across sectarian lines. Broadly speaking, though, it does not. The vast majority of the terrorism committed in the world, and virtually all of the terrorism targeted against the United States for the past dozen years, has been spawned by radical Islam.

Stated another way, everyone is aware that secondary screening of toddlers, and wanding of grandmas with walkers is doing absolutely nothing to protect airline passengers, and is a tremendous waste of time and expense.

Yet the logic of “never-profile!” demands we affirmatively waste time looking at the wrong people in order not to appear to be illegally targeting the right people. Our sloppy grasp on civil liberties requires us to do a bad job at screening people, because a good job would force us to pay closer attention to young, Muslim males.

Like all affirmative-action efforts, sooner or later practitioners are going to begin using a quota system, (whether officially or informally, it doesn’t really matter). That’s the surest way to avoid the appearance of targeting the now-protected group. The upshot is if you’re a young, Muslim, male, your odds are better that you’ll escape closer scrutiny than a fat, middle-aged Scandinavian.

The only substantive point that can be made against this kind of profiling is that it will fall heavier on young Muslim males than on everybody else. This is where the concerns over “unequal treatment” come in. And yes, profiling will fall heavier on young Muslim males, but not disproportionately so. As a matter of proportion, 100% of the risks airlines are screening for have been posed by young Muslim males. (I note an exception of some of the recent dry-run shenanigans, which seem to be favored by middle-aged or older Muslim males.) And we're not suggesting that 100% of Muslims males be subjected to secondary screening. Only that those critical factors be taken into account along with other information when they are looked over by screeners.

That many innocent young Muslim male passengers will suffer closer scrutiny is unfair, in the existential sense that JFK had in mind when he once observed that “life isn’t fair.” It’s unfair in the sense that the government can’t offer protection of 100% of innocent feelings without compromising security for 100% of innocent human lives. The source of that unfairness, though, isn’t with us, but with radical Islam.

Since Christmas Day, even minds as sensitive as Mitch Albom’s are complaining about “political correctness,” and urging “profiling.”

This could be a big change for the better.

1 comment:

Wendy Woodley said...

Yes, by all means, do profile -PLEASE!