Racial profiling---thoughts

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Beyond the Sidewalks : One Thread

I was listening to NPR this afternoon. They were reporting on a story of the FBI questioning resident Iraqis, looking for information regarding terrorists etc. Basically a fishing trip.

They said some Iraqis have been very cooperative, even kinda excited, about being questioned by the FBI while others were miffed.

The guy they actually interviewed was miffed. He'd been in the country for 20 yrs. They didn't say if he was a citizen. He said when they interviewed him and asked if he was muslem he sez "No I'm a satanist and I practice black magic." He said he was really offended.

In response to a smart ass I mighta said "Yeah, I figured, what mosque do you go to?"

My own immediate impulse was "If this clowns not a citizen I'd put him on the next plane back to Iraq. As a "guest" in our country he has no 'RIGHTS', just privledges. And if he wants to stay in this country he had better set aside his admittedly understandable discomfort with the whole situation and COOPERATE! There are bigger fish to fry than to be overly concerned with his individual pride.

Its like having company, guests in my home. I say "Look, I got some bad guys coming here, wanting to do me harm and its just a matter of time in all likelyhood. Unfortunately, they look alot like you and they practice the same religion, which has a vocal and very public component that is avowedly and violently opposed to Americans and all their country represents.

If you can help me eject them from OUR lives and protect OUR homes and loved ones I'd welcome your help and input but if you can't I have to ask you to leave because instead of being part of the solution you've decided to be part of the problem. That ain't no way to treat a generous host"

Thats sounds like a pretty understandable position to me.

On the other hand I can see the Iraqis postition too. I wouldn't like being pulled aside merely because I looked like someone else, spoke the same language or whatever but again I gotta put this in context.

Suppose I hear on the radio someone robs a liquor store in my hood. They say hes a white guy and whattya know, I get pulled over and questioned because I match the suspects description. Should I go to the ACLU screaming "racial profiling"? Or should I try to be objective, express mild displeasure just outta principle, then cooperate?

It seems to me that the middle eastern folks who are in this country, citizens or not, should try to understand that its not personal. If they're not terrorists they should have nothing to fear and have alot to gain by understanding AND cooperating.

And while I'm ranting, I'd sure like the American Muslem commununity being alot more vocal against terrorism. I know some folks are speaking out but it seems you don't hear much.

-- Anonymous, April 08, 2003


Hmm. Well I can speak something about the gender profiling.

If a woman robs a bank and they send out an APB saying the perpetrator is a woman, it doesn't bother me that I could be a suspect (hey, we all look alike anyway).

However, when I'm applying for a job, and I get discriminated against because I'm a woman (and I well remember those days), I'd get pissed. If it was organized discrimination (and I well remember those days), I'd be doubly pissed.

Not really addressing the big picture, but the fact that a criminal is a woman (and the fact that I look like one might get me in a lineup) doesn't bother me anywhere near as much as if all women had to report to the FBI and discuss whether or not we know any other women! Fortunately that hasn't happened (yet)...

-- Anonymous, April 08, 2003

Point taken I think sheepish but is it the same thing? Doesn't seem like it to me.

-- Anonymous, April 09, 2003

As I am caucasion, have ceased my world travel with my retirement and no longer travel out of the environment in which I now live comfortably, profiling is not an issue to me and I have no concern or opinion on it

-- Anonymous, April 09, 2003

After 9/11 were'nt there something like 100 Arabs rounded up and jailed for suspicion. Then left in jail for MONTHS? I believe not to many were charged with anything. Set me straight if I got that wrong.

I know I'm in the minority but I like to think ANYONE in this country otta have rights. One of them is don't arrest me because I have the same skin color as Bin Ladin. Arrest 1st find out later? Great...Kirk

-- Anonymous, April 09, 2003

Oh it's been way more than a hundred, Kirk, it's thousands. Just last December they called young Iranian men in Los Angeles to come down for a 'registration' process, and when they arrived, they were arrested. The vast majority of these guys were here legally. They're pulling this stuff all over the place, and yes, of course now anything goes in Ashcroft's Brave New World, where the Constitution has been suspended for lack of interest.

The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, and its commands seem pretty straightforward to me. When arrested and accused of a crime, you have several constitutional rights, including (1) a speedy and public trial, (2) a jury of peers, (3) a statement of the charges against you, (4) the right to confront your accusers, (5) the power to subpoena those whose testimony can help you, and (6) the right to an attorney.

Now if this language seems so clear to me, why does Attorney General John Ashcroft have such a difficult time understanding these words?

Answer: cuz no one cares. after all, they ain't arresting ME.

-- Anonymous, April 09, 2003

When they showed that picture of the new 'Public Enemy No. 1', (the guy who is supposed to be a pilot - a couple of weeks ago - you know, THE GUY!), I kinda laughed to myself.

That person's description fit about half the male's appearances down here, hispanic's often having black straight hair / swarthy complexion / mustache. Down here, they'd have to wall the entire Rio Grande Valley to keep us in (not to mention electrifying the Rio Grande River), our seperation from the nation of Mexico.

On the other hand . . .

If an Arabic man is attempting to board a plane, and I was a passenger on it, I would be relieved if they checked him out a little more than necessary. I'd would be lying if I said different.

I've been a victim of profiling, though I'm not sure racial had anything to do with it. When I was going to college in San Antonio, and I came to visit my parents, I had to drive through the checkpoints looking for illegal alien attempting to continue their journey into the U.S. interior. We also happen to be a hot spot for drug smuggliing - in fact, I think we are now number 1. So when I would drive to the checkpoint, did they pull over the young, single driver with a beat up pickup and tool box in the bed?

Damn straight. I'd get the dog circling the vehicle, the 'please pull over to the side out of traffic' signal to the side of the building. Inspectors would question me, while other's were checking any suspicious areas where drugs or persons could be smuggled.

It was a hastle, but I understood - they were just doing their job. Most of the inspectors apologized also, but they know that person's fitting my description is the number one profile for being a smuggler. It usually took about 15 - 20 minutes, start to finish.

I'd feel different if I had been detained for a couple of months without any charges though - that sucks. They should have a fast track investigation team that finds out the facts quickly, and get the suspect out as soon as possible.

-- Anonymous, April 09, 2003

EM, You got it right. its the arab looking ones turn in the barrel now. We had our turn down home here in the flickering light of the flaming crosses in the 60s and 70s. All it took was to have two or more people known to call you "Bubba" and have a Wallace sticker on your car and you were profiled. We lived through it. Not everyone was a "booger under the sheet" ( my girlfriend called me one, but that was just because I made her sing opera in bed :>). Times and threats change, policies change, people survive, administrations always have oppressive power to some sectors. Its called majority rules and we all call it the American Way. Eventually , everyone will have the opportunity to be profiled about something.

-- Anonymous, April 09, 2003

This may be somewhat off topic, but I was really amazed to find out that you don't have to be a US citizen to join our armed forces. I just always assumed that you had to be a citizen to join. According to a story I read on abcnews.com there are over 31,000 resident aliens in our armed forces, many of them currently serving in Iraq. Some of them have even died in Iraq. Joining the service does make it easier to become a citizen, that only seems fair to me. I've heard some of the more radical right-wing types on other forums say that anyone who wasn't born in the US should be shipped back to wherever they came from. I wonder how they feel about these soldiers?

Even more off topic...My brother and one of his friends were stopped at the Canadian border and held for several hours for questioning a few years ago. They both live in Florida and work in construction so they are very tan, at first glance they look Hispanic. They were at my parent's for Christmas and then borrowed our grandparents car for a weekend ski trip to Canada. The Canadian border patrol was suspicious that two "Hispanic" men from Florida were driving a car with Michigan plates titled to someone with a different name. Finally after many phone calls to various states the Canadian cops told them they were free to go, but since my brother's friend had a 10 year-old DUI conviction he would have to pay a $500 "fine" to enter the country. They told the cops where they could stick the fine and went skiing in Michigan instead.

-- Anonymous, April 09, 2003

My opinion on the immigrant soldiers is that each be naturalized on returning to their home base after competion of their first completed combat tour or upon recieving a battlefield citation or being KIA or MIA. They fight for this country, they are part of this country. No combat, they go through normal channels of naturalization.

-- Anonymous, April 09, 2003

I too agree with EM in regards to the unlawful arrests and detainments, based merely on nationality etc.

The rant was more directed at those who whine and complain, not about being arrested, detained or actually harassed but merely interviewed in their own homes, more or less casually.

-- Anonymous, April 09, 2003

John, I didn't hear that particular interview, so I'm wondering was this smart-ass the only one they interviewed? Sounds kinda weird! I agree people should be cooperative if they mean to help route out real terrorists from their community. But I think a big part of the problem is when government officials treat people disrespectfully, they are not going to get cooperation. If they behave like bullies, or act as though they think the people they are questioning are suspect, all they are doing is engendering fear, and that is not constructive. From what I have read, that is what is happening in a great deal of these cases.

-- Anonymous, April 09, 2003

I agree EM but from what I was lead to believe the feds were merely on a fishing trip and randomly talking with Iraqis in America. What I heard on the radio was less of an interview than a sound bite quote directly from the guy. It just pissed me off. You'd think the guy would be sharp enuf to understand HE could be the victim of an indiscriminate attack just as easily as anyone else.

Sheepish made a good point but to me there is a difference. While there is no excuse for the gender "profiling" she refers to it just ain't the same thing as trying to locate people who want to inflict large numbers of casualties among innocent civilians.

-- Anonymous, April 10, 2003

It seems to me they are grasping at straws, and in the process doing irrepairable damage to the freedoms they are supposedly protecting. I have collected dozens of cases like this blacklist

and where folks are treated like crap at airports by security personel who have no business being in any position of authority because they think it means they can bully people around. Bren's mother, who is a sweet little old white woman, gets searched and ordered around rudely every time she flies, and she thinks it's because she looks vulnerable. It makes my blood boil.

I personally will never fly again unless I have no choice, even though I could afford to travel the world, not because I am in the least bit in fear of terrorists, but because I will not subject myself to airport personel. The last time I was in an airport, there were National Guard boys in fatigues walking around with automatic weapons and an attitude; it was the damned spookiest thing I had ever seen, and although I am told they are no longer there, I ain't goin back. Too bad we postponed our world traveling till our elder years; now it looks like we'll have to wait till next lifetime to see the world firsthand. (thank goodness for the travel channel).

I love my country, but fear my government.

-- Anonymous, April 10, 2003

Tardy getting back at you. Sorry john!

I was sort of blending my concern with racial profiling with affirmative action, I guess. Lately, things get jumbled in my head so much. I don't know why, since the news reported lately seems so straitforward, honest, relevant...

-- Anonymous, April 11, 2003

This is such an incredibly complicated issue. I was married to a French Tunisian who loved America but was really insulted about the preconceptions Americans had about MEers. During 9/11, i was both teaching and studying in a linguistics/TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) program with MANY Middle Easterners, many of who were devout Muslims. I've had people from Syria, Saudi Arabia, pretty much the entire ME as students. I've had entire classrooms full of MEers as students. I've studied with students from Turkey, Bandladesh, Malaysia, everywhere. My study partner during this time was from Turkey. Two students in our study group were devout Muslims from Saudi Arabia. Another was, believe it or not, a jewish fellow who'd spent the previous year living in Israel.

There was no problem, no conflict. It was a great situation.

I'm a really curious sort of person so I'm always anxious to find out more about other people and other cultures. And in my classrooms, I would always spend at least two class periods allowing the students to talk about their native countries, their religions, etc. And they were always anxious to do so because they'd encountered so many misconceptions. And I always asked my study partners and fellow students about different things, and they were always always so anxious to tell me.

During 9/11, the ME people in my classes (I was taking courses with them at the time, not teaching them), were at least as horrified as the Americans, not only because of the act itself but because they were here, intending to go back to their countries, true, but they came here because there were things about America they wanted to learn and take back to their own countries. They had no intentions of becoming Americans, but they wanted to learn more about the things they admired about America. It was considered valuable information - things like American teaching methods, just the experience of being in an English-speaking country and practicing their English with people like me, the nature of American society, etc.

But all of them knew, with 9/11, this exchange of ideas and ways of living, etc. was over. And it looks to me like they were right. And this is really sad to me. I don't know how to frame it within the context of terrorism - I know none of those people knew terrorists. But ... ???

-- Anonymous, April 16, 2003

Moderation questions? read the FAQ