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The dangers of racial profiling

Published:Saturday | January 9, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

The recent terrorist attack on Northwest Airlines in the United States has brought to the fore, yet again, the issue of racial profiling. That is, targeting specifically and strategically those racial ethnic groups, as it is understood, with a certain proclivity to cause harm or be involved with terrorist cells or organisations.

These days, the colours of that profiling are seen largely through black and white lenses - or more aptly, black and brown skin hues. Alas, many of the terrorist attacks have been perpetrated by those who are of Negroid (Black) or Middle Eastern (Arab) descent. While I, and I imagine all of us, can understand the rationale behind racial profiling at airports and other terminals of transportation because safety is a paramount concern - we must realise that often the road to hell is paved with good intentions in tandem with scant analysis.

road to damnation

Suffice it to say, racial profiling is a journey on that road to damnation of any civil-democratic society. Racial profiling amounts to nothing but racial discrimination at worst, and tactical miscalculation at best. Some would argue that it's not discrimination but, instead, observation, but that's a distinction without a difference. Terrorism cannot be fought with a myopic and seemingly kindergarten approach to national security. Surely, if terrorists know who exactly authorities are targeting, a change of tactic is all that is necessary to avoid being caught.

It is not hearsay for a Caucasian person or a person of Asian descent (Chinese) to hold hostage a plane with bombs strapped to their bodies. Stories have been corroborated where the head of a terrorist cell was a white American training would-be terrorists in Sudan, inculcating massive levels of propaganda and anti-West sentiments.

Contrary to popular and misguided belief, terrorism isn't characteristic of a single or a few ethnicities, it is applicable to all. Yet, I would admit that the preponderance of terrorism has been made by those who are of black and brown hues. A solution to this problem, however, isn't remedied as easily as its identification. Racial profiling is a sophomoric analytical calculation to what seems to be a complex situation.

democratic decency

As a new year is at our feet, Jamaica should hold fast to her principles of democratic decency, fairness and integrity. Given the recent tragedy at the Norman Manley airport and other airports across the globe, increased security is inevitable. Yet, that does not mean Jamaica should follow in the misguided footsteps of her older sister to the north.

It is often said that how we fight speaks with greater volume than what we fight. Terrorists are the essence of discrimination and visceral hate; racial profiling is a mutated sibling of that hatred. Let us not employ their weapon and wield it in this battle for safety and fortified national security. Instead, elevate the discussion by finding solutions to combat these terroristic elements that are neither discriminatory nor ineffectual. To the powers that be, I urge you to 'wheel and come again'.

I am, etc.,


Orange City, IA