By PHILLIP MILANO The Times-Union
Question: Is it so wrong to racially profile people who are flying?
Lisa, white, Custar, Ohio
I would be nervous if I saw a couple of Middle-Eastern people get on my plane. I think we [whites] should be aware of how the profiling makes others feel, but those who fit the profile should also understand that at the moment it might just be a necessary evil.
Jason, Kiel, Germany
I shouldn't be subject to racial profiling and harassment just to make xenophobic people like you feel safer.
KMW, 22, black/white male, Boston
[Oklahoma City bomber] Timothy McVeigh was a white male in his 20s, so, given the pro-profiling notion, all white males in their 20s should be considered a serious threat to national security.
People are always complaining about how easy we [Muslims] are getting it. Well, we aren't - we get harassed all the time. There . . . rejoice!
Karim, 27, Arab male,
What if conservative radio host Michael Smerconish, author of Flying Blind (which advocates racial profiling in airports), and Parvez Ahmed, chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and associate professor at the University of North Florida, got together for a nice chat on this?
Well, they didn't. But we did interview them separately, so maybe the banter would go something like this:
Ahmed: "The fear is very legitimate, but we must acknowledge it's a result of lack of knowledge. . . . The flying public should say something if they see something, but not if they see nothing."
Smerconish: "Profiling is absolutely necessary. The FBI says Al-Qaeda is reconstituting itself . . . and their surnames aren't Jones or Smerconish. There are still Arab extremists who threaten us. The common denominator of the 19 [Sept. 11] attackers remains constant."
Ahmed: "If someone is suspicious-looking, yes, pull them aside. But if you simply see a person with a different color, or a beard, that's diverting law enforcement from things of a genuine security concern. That's counterproductive."
Smerconish: "The blue-haired old lady out of Miami with a walker is undeserving of the same level of attention as Abdul flying in from Saudi Arabia. If that offends people, I'm sorry, but we need to use street-smarts and face the fact there are commonalities among those who threaten us."
Ahmed: "Smerconish and others are exploiting our fears. . . . Law enforcement agrees profiling is the wrong way to go based on race. It should be based on suspicious behavior. The process now is so haphazard. Yes, I feel the stares. . . . If a local agent can detain you for hours because he didn't like how you dressed that day, how have you been made safer?"
Smerconish: "Hey, when . . . bald suburban white guys like me start to threaten us, I'll change my tune."
This story can be found on Jacksonville.com at http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/050807/enm_168298991.shtml.
- ▼ May 2007 (3)