Thursday, February 10, 2005

Racial Profiling

As readers of my blog are aware (and I'm sure that this includes all of you!), I finished Lt Gen Michael DeLong's Inside Centcom (he was Tommy Frank's second-in-command) last week and started Michelle Malkin's In Defense of Internment: The Case for Racial Profiling in World War II and the War on Terror. I did my usual "book report" on DeLong's book which you can read over at The Redhunter.

Malkin's book is quite provocative and raised quite a stir when released. She got into a number of debates, many of which she posted on her website (which is must-reading). So far, I've only read the introduction in the book so am hardly ready to offer commentary on our policy of internment during World War II.

That said, "racial profiling" has, of course, become an issue over the past few years. It has been debated in a few areas, perhaps none more than with regard to airport security. Secretary of Transportation Norman Minetta has famously refused to allow any profiling at all. Secretary Minetta and his family were interned during the Second World War. His attitude toward any sort of profiling is described by Malkin in her book
When asked by CBS's 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Croft whyether he could enfision any circumstance wre it would make sense to use racial and ethnic profiling, Mineta responded, "Absolutely not." Croft persisted, "Are you saying at the security screening desks, that a 70 year-old white woman from Vero Beach, Florida, would recive the same level of scrutiny as a Muslim man from Jersey City?" Mineta replied, "Basically, I would hope so." Croft followed up, "If you saw three young Arab men sitting, kneeling, praying, before they boarded a flight, getting on, talking to eadh other in Arabic, getting onthe plane, no reason to stop and ask them any questions?" "No reason," Minetta stubbornly declared.
This is madness.

There was an incident a few years ago wherby former Vice-President Al Gore himself was pulled aside while waiting for a flight and given a more-than-usual search. Apparently the guards were selecting people at random and his number came up. Although other passengers reported that Gore was not happy about being searched, Gore later "shook the hands of all the airport screeners afterward and thanked them for doing the jobs that they're doing and asked them to keep up the good work."

All of which reminds me of the final scene in Bridge on the River Kwai, where the camp doctor mutters "Madness, Madness!" as he walks about the wreckage of the bridge that had just been blown.

We need to restore a bit of sanity to our security. We can do this without treating all Arabs or Muslims as if they were terrorists. But we do need to take into account the fact that terrorists do tend to fit certain profiles. As Steve Croft noted, 70 year old white, black, or asian women do not fit into any known terrorist profile. Young Arab men do. Common sense dictates that security personell use some sort of profiling based on these facts. My understanding is that today they are largely not allowed to do so. Complaints by CAIR be damned.

As Malkin documents, "civil rights" advocates typically tell us that any attempt to profile will only lead to World War II - style internment. Woe be it to anyone who suggests otherwise. Malkin related how U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Peter Kirsanow was vilified by Japanese-American and Arab-American activists;
He was merely observing that adopting lesser measures that the ethnic grievance industry vehemently protests as civil rights atrocities - such things as airport profiling, targeted illegal alien sweeps, monitoring of mosques, and tighter visa screening procedures - can prevent acts of terrorism, which in turn can prevent larger infringements on civil liberties down the road.

More to come.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Illegal Immigration and the many issues involved

I just read an interesting commentary over at OpinionJournal. Its about some legislation being proposed in Arkansas to prevent illegal aliens from getting state services (education, medical care, etc), which is modeled after Arizona's Proposition 200. The piece was written by an editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Here is a part out of that article:

"Well, yes, what kind of message does that send? That we're foresighted enough to want these future Americans to be healthy and well-educated? That we don't punish the children for the sins of the fathers? Do we really want to make these little suckers second-class citizens while they're still in the womb? There may be some differences of opinion in this state, and country, about when life begins, but these two state senators seem agreed: Discrimination should begin at conception.

In real life, as opposed to politics, would Jim Holt really deny some poor Mexican who's just been mangled in a car wreck the emergency treatment he needs? Jim Holt ran for the U.S. Senate last year as a practicing Christian; his campaign signs bore the fish symbol. Would he just pass by people who are hurting and in need of help--like some kind of Bad Samaritan

What the gentleman wrote is thought-provoking and in it, he seems to be appealing to the reader's concience, but I think he misses the mark, in that he seems to infer that if you are against illegal immigrants you are a racist. (He describes the bill as ""inflammatory, race-baiting demagoguery.")

There may be some who are against it for racist reasons, but not all. Some are against it because of the drain on the economy, some because of issues of national security, etc. The list is long.

But what I found to be most interesting were some of the "Reader responses". Here are some examples:

-From a reader in So. Cal.:
"A malicious, misleading hit piece. Come and visit Southern California and take a serious look at the costs both in dollars and lifestyle of illegal immigration. That some in Arkansas don't want to find themselves in the same situation in a few years is smart. Immigration is good for this country. Illegal immigration and the dual standards of justice that are promoted by the open borders crowd is a cancer that will kill."

-From a reader in Maine:
"Well, I must be racist and bigoted by Mr. Greenberg's standards as I am one of those Wal-Mart shoppin' rednecks who just cannot understand the sense of allowing illegal aliens the same rights and access to services as citizens. If we assume the term illegal still applies, then its an obligation to uphold the law. It's also a slap in the face to every honest citizen who works hard and sees his medical insurance premiums and taxes increase. This isn't about race, it's about fairness. It's about my family and it's welfare."

Not all the responses were negative, there were some who agreed with the sentiments expressed by the author.

-From a reader in Texas:
"Resentment at illegals generally revolves around fear of cultural change, an irrational fear, but is justified by observing that illegals are, well, illegal. They broke immigration laws, by definition. But, as a Christian, people like Mr. Holt should recognize that immigration laws are amoral; they are not there to prevent socially unacceptable behavior (such as laws against theft or murder or assault), but are there to protect the economic and social order of the country, to slow change, and to permit vetting of potentially dangerous immigrants."

The issue of illegal immigration involves many different issues - the moral issue of denying medical care to poor immigrants, the issue of American citizens having to pay for that care thru their taxes, the issue of the effect on the economy of the need for the cheap labor; the issue of national security, etc. But racism? I disagree.