02 August 2005

Targeting Muslims

I've been lucky that I haven't traveled much since September 11th (in fact, my first flight since then was just a few weeks ago), so the greatly increased security at airports has had little effect on me. However, I've read plenty of stories about people who have been very unhappy with airport security, and for good reason. No one wants to be searched, and it can be especially hard on children.

Many people wish that young Muslim men were more specifically targeted in these searches since most of the recent terrorist action has been by young Muslim men. It sounds reasonable, but I cannot agree with any type of racial profiling like this. It's unconstitutional and simply unfair.

If this actually became the policy, I can only imagine what the uproar would be if Christians, Hindus, and Jews with darker skin ended up being targeted as well. How can a security guard in the New York subway know the religion or ethnic group every person belongs to? This is a problem in Israel since many Jews there look like Arabs (and technically are Arab, since their native language is Arabic). I wonder if the Hispanic man who was shot by London police recently wouldn't have been under such suspicion if he had been white. It is not right, and can even be dangerous, to profile racially.

I would think that Mormons would be especially sensitive to this. We are all tired of being profiled ourselves as polygamists, ultra-conservatives, wackos, or any number of odd things. Sure, there are some weird Mormons out there. There might even be more weird Mormons proportionally than there are weird Catholics, Protestants, or Muslims out there. I don't know. But I do know that I don't like to be lumped in with anyone. I hope I can't be defined so easily.

And that's why I am willing to be searched if I'm the one who randomly is tagged. If we're going to do searches, we all must be a part of it (I'm not necessarily convinced that searches are even helpful, but that's not the point here). There is no fair way to do it otherwise.

And it is still safer to ride the subway than to drive a car. The threats are relative. The media have a great deal to do with our perception of our safety.


  1. I cannot agree with any type of racial profiling like this. It's unconstitutional and simply unfair.

    I could NOT agree with you more. It is horrible.

    Have you seen the film, "The Siege?" Probably not, but it quite outlines what happens and follows a family who endures such harshments. It chills my blood.

    Thanks for the post, for your light and for your awarement.

  2. My husband is very dark and has black hair and brown eyes. My neighbors call him my A-rab. He used to have a beard, boy, he really looked Arabic. He gets searched every time we travel. It's a small inconvenience.

    I'm in favor of the profiling. It's not fool-proof, but it's an okay precaution by me. You cannot compare searching an Arab looking man with what happened in the Siege.

    Muslims, mostly Arab or eastern, are the ones mainly involved in this bombing. We don't need to shoot them, but searching them just doesn't seem cruel or inhumane.

    If a group of apostate Mormons suddenly started doing these things, I would willingly submit to being searched, if it helped to stop the crimes committed.

  3. You know, I worried about offending others when I posted that other post. I do feel that way, it makes sense if basically Arabs are Al-Queda, to search the Arab guy in the line.

    But I was watching something on TV the other day about the subway thing, they are searching every seventh person?--and somebody said something about searching the little old lady or the mother with a stroller. And I thought if I was a terrorist, I'd find a way to look like a little old lady or have a baby in a stroller. Plus they are probably recruiting here, getting crazy very-white people to suicide bomb or something.

    I would rather sacrifice my safety than my freedom. Bottom line. I don't know what that says about my former post, I don't know from constitutional, but I suppose my ambivalence reflects the very complicated and terrible situation we are in, world-wide.

  4. You didn't offend anyone, annegb. I just didn't agree with you. :)

    I agree that there isn't any one right answer for everything. Sometimes I'm just glad I'm not the one who has to make the hard decisions.