Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 14, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

ETHNIC PROFILING....Does the airline bombing plot strengthen the argument for ditching fainthearted liberal sensitivities about ethnic profiling? Stephen Bainbridge makes the conservative case for sticking to our principles:

First, while I'm fully cognizant of Emerson's dictum about consistency, it's worth pointing out that many advocates of profiling are also opponents of affirmative action. In the latter context, they argue that color-blindness is a basic moral and constitutional precept. If we sacrifice our principles in the name of expediency, aren't we betraying what makes us different from our opponents?

Second, Judith Miller observes that:

The alienation felt by many Muslims in Western lands is not common in the U.S. And given the integration of Muslims from many Arab and non-Muslim lands in American life, the Muslim rage that devastated Parisian suburbs last summer and shredded the tolerant culture of the Netherlands is not widespread here.

My concern is that if American Muslims start to experience "flying while Muslim," that will promote precisely the sort of alienation and rage we say in too many European Muslims.

This is wise advice. The airline plot, after all, was initially uncovered because "British authorities received a call from a worried member of the Muslim community, reporting general suspicions about an acquaintance."

Ethnic profiling of Arabs and Muslims is a blunt weapon that enrages and alienates everyone in the targeted group. In the short run it holds out the promise of preventing terrorist activity and producing useful leads, but in the long run it turns into a vicious circle: it radicalizes more and more of the Muslim community and reduces the number of friends and acquaintances likely to expose that radical behavior to law enforcement. The end result is a catastrophic increase in the very behavior it was meant to control.

This is hardly the only situation where people have a hard time accepting the long-term consequences of short-term policies that seem appealing on the surface. Conservatives and liberals both do it. Usually, though, the results are merely bad, not deadly. In this case, they're both.

Kevin Drum 12:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (133)

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Comments

Timothy McVeigh. Eric Rudolph.

Do I need to say any more?

Posted by: Dave Johnson on August 14, 2006 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

I am writing Kevin about this, and I am putting pedal to the metal.

If Kevin can't figure out a way to raise revenue from the regular posters here to update his software and hire someone to do the update so this blog can be registered, I am fucking out of here.

I am *so* not playing around.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on August 14, 2006 at 12:30 AM | PERMALINK

Quite aside from all those (excellent) arguments, the problem with racial profiling is that it makes the authorities stupider, not smarter. If you advertise the fact that certain people won't be looked at closely, then you're giving the enemy detailed instructions on "how not to be noticed".

You think arabs have to look like arabs? I've seen Eddie Murphy play an old white man, Billy Crystal play an old black man, and Robin Williams play an old Scottish woman. (Admittedly, al Qaeda probably hasn't got a lot of comedians working for them, but I think the point stands.)

If al Qaeda can send guys to flight school to learn to fly jetliners, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars per student, I think they can probably afford a few courses at cosmetology school, too.

Posted by: Evan on August 14, 2006 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

First of all, exactly which 'Judith Miller' is this? Let's hope not the one of NYT/Plamegate/Iraq WMD cheerleader fame.

Bob, was that really you last post? I'll bet not. Kevin, can't you DO something about this???

Posted by: nepeta on August 14, 2006 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

Profiling is like torture. It feels so good that it's almost irresistible. But it doesn't work. The bad -guy-to-good-guy ratio is two low and, as Kevin's post points out, the potential harm is far outweighs the benefits.

And yes, it makes the the authorities stupid. Just like torture.

aa

Posted by: aaron aardvark on August 14, 2006 at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, it's wrong for both deontological and consequentialists reasons, as Evan stated above. Just like torture is inherently wrong, it is also --as the U.S. Army Field Manual clearly states--completely ineffective.
It's obvious that we (and by "we" I loosely mean the non-Muslim world) will not be able to stop the terrorist activities of members of the Islamic faith. The best we can do is stem the tide somewhat; a true solution to the situation will only come from within the Islamic community itself. As such, it is absolutely essential that we--especially our leaders--do everything possible to not inflame Islamic public passions. We need the euphemistic Islamic street to defeat the scourge that exists within its body politic.

In order to defeat this problem, we must make the circle of Islamic terrorists ever smaller and the circle of those supporting them ever smaller as well. I'm afraid what we've done the last five years or so, nothwithstanding some of President Bush's rhetoric, has done exactly the opposite.

Posted by: mrjauk on August 14, 2006 at 1:01 AM | PERMALINK

Part of the problem with racial/ethnic profiling is that people don't fit stereotypes.

Arabs may be Christian rather than Muslim

Muslims may be Blacks rather than Arabs

White Christians seem to be as likely to be terrorists as any other group (see post #1)

Posted by: Wapiti on August 14, 2006 at 1:01 AM | PERMALINK

AA beat me to one of my points. Great minds and all...

Posted by: mrjauk on August 14, 2006 at 1:02 AM | PERMALINK

Ethnic profiling of Arabs and Muslims is a blunt weapon that enrages and alienates everyone in the targeted group. In the short run it holds out the promise of preventing terrorist activity and producing useful leads, but in the long run it turns into a vicious circle: it radicalizes more and more of the Muslim community and reduces the number of friends and acquaintances likely to expose that radical behavior to law enforcement.

Kevin, your argument makes no sense. If one group is more likely to commit a crime, shouldn't that group be profiled so that the crime doesn't happen again? Since Muslims and Arabs are more likely to be terrorists so that the Islamofascist terrorists don't kill 3000 people again as they did on 9/11.

Posted by: Al on August 14, 2006 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

Al, are you really that simple-minded or are you being willfully obtuse? Either way it's annoying and doesn't do anything to further the discussion.

Posted by: mrjauk on August 14, 2006 at 1:12 AM | PERMALINK

Timothy McVeigh. Eric Rudolph.

Dave, you missed the point. We're profiling to capture the Islamofascists who attacked us on 9/11 and attacked Israel from Lebanon. Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph are not Islamofascists.

Posted by: Al on August 14, 2006 at 1:12 AM | PERMALINK

Ok Al, I'll bite. What does an Islamofascist look like?

Posted by: mrjauk on August 14, 2006 at 1:14 AM | PERMALINK

How about making a new movie "Liquid Snakes On A Plane" or "Snake Liquids On A Plane"?

Posted by: R.L. on August 14, 2006 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

Oaky, Al you have us on that one.

So lets give dark, suspicious Arab looking people a hard time. Maybe some of them will turn out to be Mexicans or Italians, or something, but's better safe than sorry.

And let's not forget the other terrorist group -- white guys. Remember McVeigh and Nichols. Oh, and there's the Unibomber. So let's give the white guys a hard time, too.

Then there are those Asian Muslims from place like Indonesia. Might as well as do the slanty-eyed Asians. They like to bomb stuff.

Man, Al, your logic is unassailable.

aa

Posted by: aaron aardvark on August 14, 2006 at 1:27 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, Kevin Drum finally takes a bold stand, folks. He just came out against racial profiling. What a profile in courage.

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on August 14, 2006 at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK

Some say bin Laden's strategy was to go after U.S. allies in the Iraq war first, and that he is now ready to go after the U.S. proper again.

Time will tell if political correctness in immigration and open borders with Mexico, or profiling and secure borders have greater validity.

Posted by: Myron on August 14, 2006 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

Myron, false dichotomy.

Secure borders are good. Maybe those strong, decisive Republican Neocons should try it. But of course we don't need secure borders because we're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here.

On the other hand profiling is stupid because it doesn't work. It assumes our adversaries are stupid. If you think they are, then you're stupid.

aa

Posted by: aaron aardvark on August 14, 2006 at 1:40 AM | PERMALINK

A question to those who support profiling of Arab Muslims: how do you distingusih an Arab Muslim from an Arab Christian or an Arab atheist?

Posted by: nut on August 14, 2006 at 1:42 AM | PERMALINK

Timothy McVeigh. Eric Rudolph.

George W Bush.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on August 14, 2006 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

Secure borders are good. Maybe those strong, decisive Republican Neocons should try it.
Posted by: aaron aardvark on August 14, 2006 at 1:40 AM | PERMALINK

Secure borders are not profitable.
If we secure our borders, then employers are forced to hire legal citizens. We can't have that.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on August 14, 2006 at 1:45 AM | PERMALINK

If all we had to worry about was Eric Rudolph, we wouldn't be talking about terrorism right now. The threat, such as it is (it's probably not as big as carbon monoxide) comes overwhelmingly from Moslems.

But we have to to hassle lots of other people that we know aren't in the high-risk group to show how fair we are. When the TSA hassled Joe Foss (on a trip to Wesy Point) out of fear that his Congressional Medal of Honor was some kind of shuriken, that was our finest hour. After all he'd brought down many a plane...


Posted by: gcochran on August 14, 2006 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

gcochran, do you think the terrorists are stupid?

aa

Posted by: aaron aardvark on August 14, 2006 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

Sure, they're mostly stupid. Possibly as stupid as we are. As for the idea that they'll manage to get Jeremy Irons to do their suicide bombing for them, I think it's unlikely.

At minimum, if they felt that they had to recruit people whose profile in no way resembles that of the traditional suicide bombrer, they'd find their work much more difficult. Capische?

Focusing attention on Moslems is just as unfair and unproductive as cops paying somewhat special attention to the boyfriend or husband of a murdered woman. You see, life is not a paperback mystery - usually it's the one you _most_ suspect.

The Brits infiltrated Moslem groups: that's how they caught the recent plotters before they'd gone very far. Do you think that they should be infiltrating Druids as well, just as much? Just to be fair? Maybe members of the Stonecutters? When they have a finite pool of investigators?

Surveillance and suspicion is not what radicalized a certain fraction of Pakis: it's more Britain's part in the invasion of Iraq, combined with social differences. American Moslems are disproportionately edcated professionals, while the young Pakistanis in England are often underclass. The dynamics are different.



Posted by: gcochran on August 14, 2006 at 2:16 AM | PERMALINK

Well, let's see:

1) The last stat I read on this (I think on MSNBC) said that one out of every five foreign suicide bombers in Iraq has been a black African. Among those wanted for the bombings of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania or black African Muslim members of al-Qaeda. Black Americans make up around 13% of all Americans. The Atlanta cell planning to blow up the Sears Tower were all black. The sniper in DC-Maryland was also black. Isn't this too big a group to profile? When you consider that the biggest Arab-American population is in Michigan, home of cities like Detroit with large African-American populations, the prospect of profiling becomes a waste of time detracting from smarter method. Large cities - the primary Al-Qaeda target - tend to be more diverse than the American average. According to Wikipedia, 36% of New Yorkers are foreign born, 64% are black, Latino or Asian and only 45% are white. DC is 60% black and only 33% white.

2) Radical Islam has become appealing to white alienated Westerners just like the Baader-Meinhof Group and the Japanese Red Army were appealing to an earlier generation of alienated members of successful industrial democratic societies. Europeans are having a problem with their white underclass being drawn into radical Islam. These include some that one wouldn't think would be very religious, like former members of black metal bands modeled after Cannibal Corpses. This is especially a problem for those whites who are arrested and convert in prison. A joint Franco-American sting operation has led to the capture of a major Al-Qaeda operative named Christian in Paris. They have the zeal of the newly converted and tend to find their imams to be moderate. This is similar to how one of the neo-Nazi Columbine killers was part Jewish.

3) People farther up have mentioned McVeigh. The anthrax letters were likely the work of right-wing white hate groups. Klanwatch, in fact, ended its long-term relationship with the FBI when Ashcroft refused to look into the possibility that the anthrax mailings were the work of such a group. No one has been convicted of these attacks. Such groups celebrated 9/11 and have actively sought out partnerships with al-Qaeda. They have also started to infiltrate our military to gain training while recruiters have been forced to accept more undesirables. McVeigh, remember, was a soldier in the American military before turning to terrorism. In early 2004, members of such a white hate group were caught with chemicals weapons in Texas. They had planned to use these in major Texas cities. Their plan was only foiled when they sent forged UN identity documents to the wrong address in New Jersey. Before the woman who had received the documents contacted the authorities, no one had any hint that such a plot existed. They had been ignored.

4) Americans tend to be poor judges of where someone's ancestry is from. I have been mistaken for Italian, Greek, Spanish, Latino, Black, Jewish, Arab, Persian, Turkish, Native American and other groups (I am half South Asian Indian and half white). People who hold jobs like airport security often aren't the most educated people and can't tell an Indonesian Islamic fundamentalist from a southern Han Chinese tourist from Guangdong. Learning these differences will be just more of a time-consuming headache than its worth. As we become more integrated with the global economy, our major targets - our cities - are going to be visited by more and more people visiting as tourists or wishing to invest who come from non-white parts of the world. Terrorists tend to dress not to be noticed. Notice how Atta didn't even have a beard.

5) We are trying to prevent a type of behavior - terrorism - instead of a state of being, like being brown or Muslim. When characteristics of drug smugglers on airplanes that can be altered from smuggler to smuggler have been subject to profile, cartels have altered these characteristics (using smugglers of different races, changing dressing, phone protocols, luggage, etc.). The one thing that cannot be changed is the underlying behavior that comes with drug smuggling - being nervous and acting suspiscious, similar to how police know someone who talks to much is often trying to cover something up. When airports like Atlanta have narrowed their search criteria down to just looking for these types of behavior, they have tended to grab a fewer number of people for investigation, but have cut a greater number of smugglers. In fact, although the number of minorities taken aside went down, the number of of minorities found to be smugglers went up along with the total number of smugglers found. Casting too big a net lowers your effectivness.

6) Don't you think that Al-Qaeda has a contingency plan waiting to go into effect once profiling becomes official policy? Wait until everyone becomes ultra paranoid when this policy is announced and white Muslim cells blow up stuff. This is similar to plans that the US government believes that North Korea has in case of an attack on NK. According to some intelligence from defectors that has been publicized, during the Korean War a handful of black and white UN soldiers defected to Kim Il-Sung's side. They became part of a breeding program for terrorists. These black and white spies are meant to integrate into American society, gather intelligence and then execute whatever plan they have if NK is under attack.

Are we just supposed to ignore terrorist attacks from non-Muslims? The biggest home-grown terrorist attack in American history was Oklahoma City. No American-born or -raised Muslim has ever carried out anywhere near such a large attack against other Americans. Even the most famous Arab-American terrorist, Sirhan Sirhan, is a Christian.

Posted by: Reality Man on August 14, 2006 at 2:32 AM | PERMALINK

Good post, Reality. I have nothing more to add.

Posted by: Andy on August 14, 2006 at 2:53 AM | PERMALINK

The New Yorker had a great article about this in the past year. (I forget at the moment by whom and when.) But basically, as has been pointed out, a terrorist will work especially hard to break out of the stereotype so they don't draw that much attention to themselves.

People buy radar detectors and slow down when they see police for a reason--to hide their crimes. If we are silly enough to think that the most dangerous terrorists will make it obvious who they are from this point on, then we are in some serious trouble. Unfortunately, the soundbites and racists undertones play well on Fox News. Real security isn't as important as the justification of racism and xenophobia in the guise of security (or economics).

Posted by: gq on August 14, 2006 at 2:55 AM | PERMALINK


I doubt if any suicide bombers in Iraq have been black Africans. Google it. Or think: they'd stand out. The trend exists in your head, or maybe it's real in the alternate timeline you're from. North Africans, yes: black Africans, no.

Concentrating on the most likely suspects does not mean that you completely ignore others
That's what game theory is all about. Do the schools no longer teach minimax? Why, when I was a lad, nobody graduated from high school without understanding Nash's fixed-point theorem...

The Bush Administration spent the summer of 2001 commanding airport screeners to go easy on Arab Muslims. Karl Rove's idea, of course.

How did that work out?

Posted by: gcochran on August 14, 2006 at 2:56 AM | PERMALINK

One more thing:

Our intelligence and foreign services - CIA, FBI, NSA, State Department, Pentagon, etc. - lack enough people who have a command of key languages like Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Pashto, Uzbek, Turkmen, Kazakh, Uyghur, Tatar, Kyrgyz, Hindi, Urdu, Javanese, Kurdish, Azerbaijani, Punjabi, Bengali, Kashmiri, Tamil, Sindhi, Malay, Mandarin Chinese and Tagalog. Many of the people who speak these are Muslims. People who have background from these countries and still maintain a connection to them (like the high number of Lebanese-Americans who continue to visit Lebanon) will likely have a deeper understanding of the sociopolitical dynamics of the Muslim parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East that will affect our security. Tips are more likely to come from someone who knows the possible terrorists. Alienating these people is bad policy and will just reduce our effectiveness at fighting terrorism. These are the Americans we need more of in our government, not the people we should be alienating. But then again, considering 55 Arab linguists have been fired for being gay, I guess movement conservatives are more concerned about the purity of their vision of American identity than policy effectiveness.

Posted by: Reality Man on August 14, 2006 at 2:57 AM | PERMALINK

During his second debate with Al Gore in 2000, George W. Bush, hoping to win the Arab vote in Michigan, promised to eliminate airport profiling:

"Secondly, there is other forms [sic] of racial profiling that goes on in America. Arab-Americans are racially profiled in what is called secret evidence [sic]. People are stopped, and we have to do something about that. My friend, Senator Spencer Abraham of Michigan, is pushing a law to make sure that Arab-Americans are treated with respect. So racial profiling isn't just an issue at local police forces. It's an issue throughout our society."

Although Bush lost Michigan anyway, he began implementing this policy at airports in early 2001, a move which may have contributed to 9/11, although nobody seems interested in this question other than me.

In January 2002, an 86-year-old former governor of South Dakota and retired brigadier general named Joe Foss, on his way to give a speech to cadets at West Point, was subjected to the third degree by Phoenix airport security for 45 minutes because the metal detector was set off by his dangerously pointy Congressional Medal of Honor. When I first heard this, I assumed that Bush's anti-profiling rules would be laughed out of existence.

I was wrong.

If you are interested in reading more about the Bush Administration's long effort in the first 8 months of its term in office to make it easier for people like Mohammed Atta to get past airport security screeners, here's the article about it I wrote for UPI on the evening of September 11, 2001:

"Bush had called for laxer airport security"

http://www.isteve.com/2001_9-11_Bush_had_called_for_laxer_airport_security.htm

Posted by: Steve Sailer on August 14, 2006 at 3:11 AM | PERMALINK

Ummmm, Kevin? Profiling is how the Police solve everyday crimes (e.g. "200lb. white male". What, they should stop 140lb black females, too, just in case?). Saying that this will end up as anti-muslim is just B.S. Proper profiling would pick up things like mannerisms (since the Police aint that stupid, and they do understand that people *gasp* use disguises!), nervousness, odd ticketing.

Posted by: Castor on August 14, 2006 at 3:18 AM | PERMALINK

"Concentrating on the most likely suspects does not mean that you completely ignore others."

How many major terrorist attacks have been carried out by American Muslims and/or American Arabs? Very few. How many have been carried out by white Americans? Do I even need to answer this?
Some interesting info on this (Googling for this has probably got me put on some list):

"Western white woman a suicide bomber [in Iraq]":
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,7374-1898856,00.html

From the LA Times: "An online magazine, named Jihadweb, published a "road to Iraq" guide that advised recruits traveling through Syria to "wear jeans" and "use a portable music player" so they would appear more Western":
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-op-suicidebomb17jul17,0,4293580.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions

I had saved the link that had the origin point of foreign suicide bombers, but have since lost it when my computer crashed. You would think that google would make it easier to find the numbers broken down, but the best I can find is that they mention that up to 70% have been from the Arab world, which still leaves at least 30% from the rest of the world. I did find a lot of crazy blogs, but they were less than helpful. If someone can find these numbers, that would be useful. If I remembered them incorrectly, my bad. However, this does not change the fact that black Africans have been involved in Al-Qaeda attacks against Americans, such as at our embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. Considering that we are concerned here with profiling of Muslims (and dark-skinned people in general) in the US (and possibly Europe), this is more important (profiling for Arabs in Iraq or blacks in Africa would make no sense). Islam is a major or the majority religion of many largely black African nations, such as Senegal, Tanzania, Cote d'Ivoire, Nigeria, Somalia, Sierra Leone, and Burkina Faso. We know Al-Qaeda operates or is affiliated with terrorist groups operating in many of these countries and through sub-Saharan Africa. Are we going to start profiling black people based on this? We are talking about "racial" profiling, after all, which is based on appearance.

Also, have people forgotten how easy it is for many Arabs to look white or Jewish? Arabs, like Jews, are Semites. Arabs were also long classified as white. How many people realized Helen Thomas and Ralph Nader Arab-American right away from looking at them?

Posted by: Reality Man on August 14, 2006 at 3:33 AM | PERMALINK

As I've said before, there should be a filter to weed out anyone who uses the terms "Islamofascists" or "Democrat party" -- because this site isn't here for paid advertising.

Posted by: Kenji on August 14, 2006 at 3:41 AM | PERMALINK

I would support limited used of including race in profiling, but I'm against using it in a way that all but eliminates the changes that any random person. I'm afraid that we'd hyperfocus and make it easy for attacks to be carried out by people who defy the stereotypes. I'd be amazed if this isn't a policy of aQ right now. I'm sure they can find at least 1 80yr old jewish grandma in wheelchair they can convert or coerse.

Posted by: aaron on August 14, 2006 at 3:48 AM | PERMALINK

Ummmm, Kevin? Profiling is how the Police solve everyday crimes (e.g. "200lb. white male". What, they should stop 140lb black females, too, just in case?). Saying that this will end up as anti-muslim is just B.S. Proper profiling would pick up things like mannerisms (since the Police aint that stupid, and they do understand that people *gasp* use disguises!), nervousness, odd ticketing.
Posted by: Castor on August 14, 2006 at 3:18 AM | PERMALINK

When the police say, "Be on the lookout for a 200-lb white male wearing a green shirt and jeans driving a black Toyota," they are saying to look for a particular individual who is wanted for committing a particular crime or plotting a particular crime. They do not say, "a 200-lb white male is being suspected of planning something" and then proceed to pull over every moderately-sized white male driving a car, single out every white male entering a building, etc. When the LAPD said, "look for OJ Simpson in a white Bronco," they were not profiling, but instead giving a rather detailed description of how to catch a particular suspect. When we get checked at the airport for guns, etc., airport screeners are not even sure if there is a particular plot they are supposed to be looking for. 9/11 could have been solved if people across lines of authority communicated instead of being concerned about CIA-FBI turf wars, etc. You don't have to racially profile someone to figure out being suspected of having al-Qaeda contacts such as the Hamburg cell (which the FBI knew about), taking flying lessons but not caring about how to land a plane, etc., which all are aspects of Atta that various American authorities knew about, spelled trouble. Even after 9/11, an extension of Atta's student visa came through. Agencies need to learn to work together. This requires greater leadership and sharper focus on details that are more relevant, such as associating with suspected al-Qaeda members, than just creating more noise by engaging in activities that yield little to no useful intelligence, such as finding out how many Arab-Americans carry a copy of The da Vinci Code in their carry-on luggage. This requires true leadership and direction from the likes of Bush, not expanded executive powers, etc. If the FBI, the CIA, etc. had done their job, Atta and the others would not have even reached the airport in the first place where they could have been profiled. A boxcutter isn't too hard to get through customs, especially before 9/11. I know people who have realized they have accidentally smuggled knives, etc. onto planes that they forgot were in their pockets. People have even been surprised they have gotten guns and hunting knives through customs that they forgot were on their person (at least one man was arrested for informing a flight attendant of this during the flight when he wished to point out the breach of security that should be corrected in the future). A man in Germany once got a gun onto a plane by keeping the gun under his hat, placing the hat on the belt, going through the metal detector, grabbing his hat and putting it on his head. How would profiling keep a white German guy in Germany from doing this?

Posted by: Reality Man on August 14, 2006 at 3:49 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sure they can find at least 1 80yr old jewish grandma in wheelchair they can convert or coerse.
Posted by: aaron on August 14, 2006 at 3:48 AM | PERMALINK

Or just take any random member they have, preferably elderly, and use makeup, prosthetics, etc. to make them look like an 80-year-old Jewish grandma.

Posted by: Reality Man on August 14, 2006 at 3:52 AM | PERMALINK

gcochran, ever heard of Richard Reid, the Shoe Bomber? English mother and Jamaican father.

Profile that.

aa

Posted by: aaron aardvark on August 14, 2006 at 3:56 AM | PERMALINK

Also, I wanted to point out the flaw in thinking that opposing affirmative action means one should oppose profiling. Very diffent situations. Opposition to AA doesn't deny racial characteristics are correlated with behavior or other indicators, it denies that there should be held to a different standard. Profiling affects who is selected for screening, not the depth or dilegance of screening.

Posted by: aaron on August 14, 2006 at 3:58 AM | PERMALINK

gcochran, ever heard of Richard Reid, the Shoe Bomber? English mother and Jamaican father.

Profile that.

aa
Posted by: aaron aardvark on August 14, 2006 at 3:56 AM | PERMALINK

Especially in the middle of London. Jose Padilla is Puerto Rican and had been a member of the Latin Kings. Try profiling a 26% Latino city like Chicago when trying to find a Latino member of Al-Qaeda. What type of intelligence is a guard at the Sears Tower going to have, that the Latino guy might be brown? When the main, if only, targets of terrorism become the smallest suburbs in Utah, maybe racial profiling will make some sense. After all, it's a surprise more people in Utah don't blow themselves up over just being in Utah. Being brown in Utah would probably be enough to drive anyone insane.

Posted by: Reality Man on August 14, 2006 at 4:02 AM | PERMALINK

It should be difficult to find an AA opponent who would be opposed to reaching out to under-rep'ed minorities to increase application submissions. Most, I think, would encourage it and even help out with marketing schools to qualified minority candidates.

Posted by: aaron on August 14, 2006 at 4:09 AM | PERMALINK

They already recruit white people. One of the suspects arrested in this case was a white guy who converted to Islam about a year ago, apparently.

You can't know what's in a person's heart and mind by looking at the colour of their skin.

Posted by: Robert Merkel on August 14, 2006 at 4:13 AM | PERMALINK

I love the contempt for probabilistic reasoning displayed by all the commenters who bring up exceptions to a tendency and then think that they have disproved the tendency. It would be quite profitable to play poker with you guys. I could just tell you, "It's just a stereotype that you shouldn't draw to an inside straight. My uncle drew to an inside straight once and won a $500 pot!" And you'd believe me!

Or ... do you pay more respect to statistical logic in your personal lives than you do in your public advocacy? That would be wise, if not very ethical...

Posted by: Steve Sailer on August 14, 2006 at 4:30 AM | PERMALINK

想要获得翻译公司的翻译服务?还是要进入一家上海翻译公司?英语翻译爱好者的最大希望就是能够进入一家英语翻译公司或者是日语翻译公司,不过能够进入英语翻译公司那就更好了。什么?你说法语翻译公司?那是不敢想了。特别是英语同声翻译公司担任同声翻译的工作。虽然在不少翻译论坛上询问了译友,他们也没有太好的学习翻译的建议,但是大家都说不要使用机器在线翻译的功能。

Posted by: 上海翻译公司 on August 14, 2006 at 4:46 AM | PERMALINK

I love the contempt for probabilistic reasoning displayed by all the commenters who bring up exceptions to a tendency and then think that they have disproved the tendency. It would be quite profitable to play poker with you guys. I could just tell you, "It's just a stereotype that you shouldn't draw to an inside straight. My uncle drew to an inside straight once and won a $500 pot!" And you'd believe me!

Or ... do you pay more respect to statistical logic in your personal lives than you do in your public advocacy? That would be wise, if not very ethical...
Posted by: Steve Sailer on August 14, 2006 at 4:30 AM | PERMALINK

Except that poker is a closed system based on analyzing behavior. For your metaphor to work, stereotypes like "black guys suck at playing poker" would have to be the most predictable patterns of behavior that would give you a glimpse into peoples' minds when playing poker. Instead, looking for behavior, which studies have shown is more successful than less successful racial profiling, is a better guide to learning that someone is bluffing. This is paying more respect to statistical logic than racial profiling. Race and membership in al-Qaeda is a classic example of correlation not implying causation. This should not be hard to understand. Would you want to try to attempt racially profiling people in Michigan and see what success rate you are going to get? First of all, you would have to get a 100% success rate of telling apart Arabs from non-Arabs, including all people who look like they could be Arab but aren't and all people who are Arab that don't look Arab to the untrained eye. You don't risk alienating a loyal, successful part of the American public by using statistics when playing poker because poker is largely a closed system. If you were planning an attack, who would you rather use, the guy who would be picked up once a policy of racial profiling was implemented or the white guy? I wouldn't be surprised if al-Qaeda is sitting on using their best white terrorists in the event of racial profiling being implemented. If they do not, they are much stupider than we give them credit for being. It would make sense to use racially diverse cells if racial profiling is implemented. The Arabs would be picked up, while the other members would go through. In fact, the Arab members could easily be used as decoys to distract enough attention to themselves so that any odd behavior by their other members would be more likely to not be noticed. Once again, the key to catching terrorists is good police work and good intelligence, not inefficient means like racial profiling. I bet the percentages of people who are terrorists who have constant known contact with terrorists is a lot higher than the number of people who would be caught if racial profiling would be implemented. Al-Qaeda and its affiliates have shown an ability to react to changing situations. Don't underestimate your enemy unless you want to lose.

Posted by: Reality Man on August 14, 2006 at 4:46 AM | PERMALINK

Another thing that has been left out is the fact that a lot of the Arab-Muslim terrorist who have spent a significant amount of time in the West became radicalized by the racist treatment they faced in Europe. Liberal, open American society just has not churned out really any radical Islamic terrorists. The biggest exception seems to be Sayid Qutb's hardening anti-Western, anti-capitalist stance that came in part from the racism he faced while in the US in the pre-Civil Rights Movement United States (the other being the materialism-consumerism of our culture and the social openness women enjoy here to express their sexuality, neither of which we should apoligize for). Moving toward the European model does not show any sign of serving our interests or upholding what is good and just about being American.

Posted by: Reality Man on August 14, 2006 at 5:01 AM | PERMALINK

Countries with the largest Muslim populations: Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria and Morroco.
Of the 1 billion Muslims in the world less than 20% are Arab.

9/11 perpetrated by Saudi Terrorists
Bali bombings - planed by Malaysian terrorists
Madrid - carried out by Moroccan terrorists
London - executed by Pakistani terrorists

Profiling Arabs is not the best way to go.

Posted by: another billiant GOP plan on August 14, 2006 at 5:01 AM | PERMALINK

I knew that traitor Hellen Thomas was an Arab the minute she asked me a nasty question.

Posted by: Ari/Scottie/Tony/GW on August 14, 2006 at 5:07 AM | PERMALINK

Plus, when you start racially profiling one group and only one group, you "expose your flank," so to speak, against attacks by other groups. Either only Arabs are profiled and those who would do the profile have to become near-perfect at identifiying Arabs from non-Arabs. Once you stretch it enough to get anyone who looks like they could be Arab, you open up the field to Spaniards, Portuguese, Italians, Greeks, Slavs, Turkics, Persians, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans, light-skinned black people, Latinos and many others to being profiled and wasting everyone's time. Even the Irish Black are descended from the Moors. I have known Americans of Southern European or Eastern European descent being mistaken for Arab. When many non-Italians like Brando and Caan look Italian enough to enough people that they can become symbols of the stereotypical Italian gangster, appearance becomes very useless for determining ethnicity. My girlfriend is obviously Latin, but is often mistaken for Indian or Arab even when she is not with me because the average person is very stupid.

I wonder what percentage of crimes by white hate groups have been committed by white people. The largest home-grown terrorist attack was Oklahoma City. Would it make sense to profile all white people? No, in no small part because the population is too big. However, considering that profiling is in the eye of the beholder, in major cities the number of people who could be mistaken for Arab (depending on how stupid the profiler is) could run from 20% to 80% of the local population. How is this a useful strategy?

It reminds me of the Louis C.K. joke (paraphrasing):

"I read recently that 80% of New Yorkers are minorities. When they are at 80%, does it really make sense to call them minorities? The arrogance of some white people. They could be in Africa and be like 'Look at all of these minorities! Somebody should do something about that.'"

Posted by: Reality Man on August 14, 2006 at 5:24 AM | PERMALINK

There is no al-Qaeda. There is no organized international terror network. There are only enraged Muslims - enraged because of the way Bush and the neocons have treated them, slaughtered them and exploited their religion as a false evil to grab power.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on August 14, 2006 at 5:29 AM | PERMALINK

Betting on straight draw makes sense if you can get you opponent to fold.

I'm for profiling, but in addition to random searches not instead. Profiling should help focus screening, but it shouldn't totally eliminate the randomness.

abgp, profiling doesn't mean Arab, it means they make profiles based on the observable characteristics of current and past terrorists.

Posted by: aaron on August 14, 2006 at 5:34 AM | PERMALINK

Countries with the largest Muslim populations: Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria and Morroco.
Of the 1 billion Muslims in the world less than 20% are Arab.

9/11 perpetrated by Saudi Terrorists
Bali bombings - planed by Malaysian terrorists
Madrid - carried out by Moroccan terrorists
London - executed by Pakistani terrorists

Profiling Arabs is not the best way to go.
Posted by: another billiant GOP plan on August 14, 2006 at 5:01 AM | PERMALINK

Random fun fact: As of the mid-1990's, if you took every Muslim in China and put them in their own country in the Middle East, they would be the fourth-largest country there (if I remeber correctly). A handful of the top leaders of the Tiananmen Student Democracy Movement in Beijing in 1989 were practicing Muslims. One of them, Wuer Kaixi, is a Uyghur, who are a Turkic people. He was also the most-wanted of all the students by the government after the massacre (local CIA officials took it upon themselves to help him and many others escape arrest and leave China) and was one of the most publicized of all the protesters because he was one of the main leaders. He was a higher priority than Chai Ling, who was the nearest to being a leader the movement had. The international media focused a lot of attention on Wuer Kaixi, but never mentioned he was a Muslim because they could not tell. Uyghurs, the majority of whom are Muslim, would probably just look Chinese to the average American, but just slightly different. Members of East Turkestan liberation groups have been known to train at Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan during Taliban rule. The Hui, the largest Muslim minority in China, look almost exactly like the Han majority to most Chinese (at least that is the line in the public culture) and often can only be told apart by dress.

Posted by: Reality Man on August 14, 2006 at 5:36 AM | PERMALINK

"As of the mid-1990's, if you took every Muslim in China and put them in their own country in the Middle East, they would be the fourth-largest country there (if I remeber correctly)."

On second thought, that was probably the Gulf region, not the Middle East.

Posted by: Reality Man on August 14, 2006 at 5:38 AM | PERMALINK

abGp, you realize that you are implying that terrorists are representative of all muslims.

F'ing Islamophobe.

Posted by: aaron on August 14, 2006 at 5:40 AM | PERMALINK

abGp, you realize that you are implying that terrorists are representative of all muslims.

F'ing Islamophobe.
Posted by: aaron on August 14, 2006 at 5:40 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure that is his point in the least. The argument at hand is whether racially profiling Arabs is effective at catching Islamic terrorists. His point was to show that the majority of Muslims are not Arabs and that a large percentage of terrorist attacks caused by Al-Qaeda and co. are not caused by Arabs. Al-Qaeda has two major pools of people it has any hope of recruiting: current Muslims, largely situated in the mentioned countries long into the foreseeable future, and future converts, whose numbers cannot be calculated with any precision. Pointing out the diversity of Muslims, the most broadly-defined pool of people who could possibly be drawn into Al-Qaeda, as a way of undermining the logic of profiling, which is based on examining a much larger pool of people than is either necessary or effective, does carry weight. If someone advocated racially profiling N. European whites as a way of finding Christian fascists because the majority of Nazis were German, one could easily point to the followers of Franco, Mussolini, Salazar, Marcos, Peron and the Guardians of the Cedars without saying fascists are representative of all Christians.

Posted by: Reality Man on August 14, 2006 at 5:56 AM | PERMALINK

There is the possibility that the profile is wrong. That it is purely coincidence that the terrorists we have identified share some characteristics.

I guess we won't be able to develope a fair profile until random searches and successful attacks (you can't include attacks stopped by investigating leads because they might be biased)./sarcasm

Posted by: aaron on August 14, 2006 at 5:58 AM | PERMALINK

No one is going to make an "Arab Profile" that will be used to screen for terrorst. If that's what you are arguing, the whole discussion is moot. No one has suggested something like that who could be taken seriously.

Posted by: aaron on August 14, 2006 at 6:05 AM | PERMALINK

I see your point. apGp suggested that profiling muslims would be more effective than profiling Arabs.

The reality is that profiles would be based on much more, and different, information than that.

I didn't realize I was in a discussion on searching just Arabs. The idea is absurd.

Posted by: aaron on August 14, 2006 at 6:53 AM | PERMALINK

I'd love to play poker with Reality Man and Aaron Aardvark sometime. People who don't understand odds are my kind of Hold 'Em opponents. Chase that straight all night, Aaron, I'll keep calling your bets.

If racial profiling of terrorists doesn't work, why does Israel do it on El Al flights? Arabs are much closer to Israelis in appearance than they are to Englishmen. Yet somehow, I suspect an airport security investigator would see through the 25-year-old Arab terrorist disguised with prosthetics as an 80-year-old Jewish grandmother. Of all the stupid, innumerate things posted on this thread, that was my favorite.

Posted by: Orkon on August 14, 2006 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin makes the following statement as one of fact when it is nothing more than his speculative opinion:

"[profiling] radicalizes more and more of the Muslim community and reduces the number of friends and acquaintance likely to expose that radical behavior to law enforcement. The end result is a catastrophic increase in the very behavior it was meant to control."

Now, if the short term benefit [which Kevin concedes] is to catch someone and prevent 1,000 or 100,000 or 1,000,000 deaths, would you rather use profiling or rely upon Kevin's opinion that it would produce a "catastrophic" bad long term result.

I assume if one talked to Kevin he would concede it was just his opinion and he did not have any real factual basis for it, but that is an example of liberal argument -- taking his opinion about how he thinks people feel and turning it into "fact."

I take it that Israel has been effectively profiling and screening for years. We should do what they do.

ps. It is hard to believe that in 2000 Bush apparently was considered the favorite of Arab voters. I think today they would prefer Kevin and his friends.

Posted by: brian on August 14, 2006 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

One or more of the four 9/11 hijackings committed by 19 youngish Arab men might have been prevented by airport personnel if the Bush Administration hadn't been working so hard throughout 2001, for political reasons, to intimidate them into paying no more attention to Arabs than to anybody else

Posted by: Steve Sailer on August 14, 2006 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

I have to agree with brian -- let's profile like Israel does -- one of the members of the 9/11 Commission, John Lehman, makes the same point:

http://www.johnflehman.com/pdf/proceedings_MAR2004.pdf

Posted by: Thomas on August 14, 2006 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

> If one group is more likely to commit
> a crime, shouldn't that group be profiled
> so that the crime doesn't happen again?

"Al",
Glad to hear you are in favor of profiling, searching, no-flying, etc conservative Christian gun owners from Oklahoma and Arizona. Be sure to let John McCain know that you will be implemeting these restrictions on their travel can civil liberties.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on August 14, 2006 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

Steve:

In hindsight, that was the worst Democratic Party platform in 2000 as well.

Posted by: Thomas on August 14, 2006 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

Needless to say, the second post in this thread was not posted by me.

If you see that particular post again (and if the past is a harbinger of the future, you will) -- please ignore it.

Thanks.

Now let me got read the thread.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on August 14, 2006 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Steve Sailer,

Wow, thirty years later and I'm still hearing the same lame Vietnam excuse - "We coulda won if the politicians woulda let us take the gloves off."

So Bush's problem was that he cared too much for the stinking Ayerabs, eh?

Posted by: Tripp on August 14, 2006 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

rmck1 / Bob:

I thought you were so "fucking out of here"?

P.S. Good morning, Cranky.

Posted by: Thomas on August 14, 2006 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

Tripp:

It's not ALL Arabs (as the British plot proves yet again). Bush's problem is that he recognizes the enemy as "radical, violent Islamic fundamentalism" but it is politically incorrect to say so.

Posted by: Thomas on August 14, 2006 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

Profiling occurs before the people show up at the airport. If your passport is issued from an Islamic country, or your name is arabic or some other ethnicity that has a relatively large population of muslims, you will undergo much more intense scrutiny that you will not even be aware of, and if there are any issues or doubts, you and your luggage will undergo heightened examination at the airport, and your seat positions will be known by the flight crew and the air marshals.

Kevin, do you really believe the above is not appropriate?

Posted by: Yancey Ward on August 14, 2006 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

From the 2000 Democratic Party Platform:

Ending Racial Profiling. Good policing demands mutual trust and respect between the community and the police. We shouldnt let the acts of a few rogue officers undermine that trust or the reputation of the outstanding work of the vast majority of our dedicated men and women in blue. That is why we need to end the unjust practice of racial profiling in America because its not only unfair, it is inconsistent with Americas community policing success, it is a violation of the basic American principle of innocent until proven guilty, it views Americans as members of groups instead of as individuals, and it is just plain shoddy policing. We believe that all law enforcement agencies in America should adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward racial profiling.

http://a9.g.akamai.net/7/9/8082/v001/www.democrats.org/pdfs/2000platform.pdf

Posted by: Thomas on August 14, 2006 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

This post will probably get lost in amidst all the other chatter, but I hope you see it, Kevin.

YOU ALREADY HAVE PROFILING IN THE US.

I am a British citizen born in Iran, and every time I fly in and out of this country (I live here on a work visa), I have to report to a special room, surrounded by men in chains or people being asked why they had $40k in their suitcase, and I get fingerprinted and photographed. I haven't been to Iran for 28 years and have no contacts in that country. As a liberal atheist, I can't even be accused of being a Muslim.

When I first applied for the work visa, despite impeccable credentials and the backing of a huge corporation I was rejected - purely because of where I was born. And for my first few months here, I had to report to local federal offices every 30 days to let them know I was still around. To this day, I have to write to the Immigration Dept if i change my address.

As far as i know, this rule applies to anyone born in one of seven countries, regardless of their current nationality. I believe the countries are Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Syria and (I think) N Korea.

Posted by: Sam on August 14, 2006 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Yancey:

I think that is exactly what Kevin, most above, and the mainstream Deomcratic Party is saying -- because they hate Bush but if Gore were President of the United States, I suspect those positions would be changed -- at least you and I know we would hold the same position.

Posted by: Thomas on August 14, 2006 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Thomas:

And I thought you knew how to read.

Oh well ... we all make mistakes sometime :)

Reality Man:

Excellent posts all night. Good background on the folly of profiling one of the largest demographic groups in the entire world.

One suggestion, though: Do you think you could use more paragraph breaks? It really is straining to read an entire screen page with no breaks in it.

I guarantee you that if you did this, your well-thought-out would garner more discussion.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on August 14, 2006 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

If racial profiling of terrorists doesn't work, why does Israel do it on El Al flights?

Well, for one thing, Israelis are much better at identifying who is an Arab and who isn't than Westerners are. They work in, essentially, a closed system -- there are Israelis and there are Arabs, and not much else.

In America, on the other hand, we deal with a much larger pool of types, and most Americans have a hard time telling an Arab from a Hispanic, much less distinguishing between an Arab and a Turk and a Persian and a Pakistani and an Indian. Hell, people here have thought my Israeli friends speaking Hebrew were Arabs....

Posted by: Stefan on August 14, 2006 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

well-thought-out would = well-thought-out posts would

Posted by: rmck1 on August 14, 2006 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

PS to Brian:

Don't you think the Arabs regret voting for Bush? I bet they'd change their vote if they had to do it again -- assuming Diebold would count their vote, that is. ; )

Posted by: Thomas on August 14, 2006 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Bob:

I quoted YOUR words -- if Kevin does not impose comment registration, you are leaving, right?

In the meantime, good luck explaining the "folly" of racial profiling to airport screeners in Israel.

Posted by: Thomas on August 14, 2006 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

If your passport is issued from an Islamic country, or your name is arabic or some other ethnicity that has a relatively large population of muslims, you will undergo much more intense scrutiny that you will not even be aware of, and if there are any issues or doubts, you and your luggage will undergo heightened examination at the airport, and your seat positions will be known by the flight crew and the air marshals.

Again, though, that wouldn't do a thing to catch someone like Richard Reid, a man travelling on a UK passport with an Anglo name. The system throws up too many false positives, wasting time and energy chasing down leads that never turn out.

Posted by: Stefan on August 14, 2006 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Stefan:

That's true. Also, the threat from al Qaeda in Western countries is not the same thing as the terrorist threat from adjacent couuntries is in Israel. As you say, it's a closed system -- whereas the next batch of al Qaeda ops taking on a Western country could come from almost any country in the world ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on August 14, 2006 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

I see my neocon imposter fake "Thomas" is back.

Posted by: Thomas on August 14, 2006 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Thomas:

You quoted me out-of-context, from an old thread which was crossposted into this one (and interminably in the last one) by someone other than myself.

Keep up these mongoloid questions, and I'll begin to suspect *you* as the identity thief in question.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on August 14, 2006 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Thomas,

You honestly think Bush is restrained by a feeling of political correctness? But, but I thought he was a plain-spoken Texan with a nack for cutting through all the BS.

Wow, that is too bad. It is too bad he doesn't have, oh, I dunno, a spokesman or maybe even a TV network or talk radio host on his side to help him get his message across.

Poor guy. If only he could speak his mind we'd have these terrists licked in no time.

Posted by: Tripp on August 14, 2006 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

fake "Thomas":

For someone like Bush who claims the problem is "violent fundamentalism" he certainly seems uninterested in going after Osama bin Laden. Do you think he's made a deal with him? Since Bush has said we "can't win" the war on terror that might be his easiest way out.

Posted by: Thomas on August 14, 2006 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

The "real, Kerry-voting" Thomas:

If you're being sincere that you have an impostor (which, to be truthful, I'm beginning to doubt) -- then I'd suggest changing your name to reflect your true identity.

Try Thomas1 or something similar.

Otherwise, this is beginning to smell like as Cheney/Charlie-esque game ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on August 14, 2006 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

rmck1/bob:

Thanks for the suggestion! Actually I hope Kevin gets registration soon -- I've written Kevin about that as you recommended.

Posted by: Thomas on August 14, 2006 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Stefan,

Unless you strip search everyone getting onto a plane, then no system is going to approach the perfection required to nab someone like Reid before he boards the plane, unless that person has done something in the past that would have flagged him for scrutiny.

Let me ask you directly: Do you think it is inappropriate to do what I asserted is being done already? If you think it inappropriate, then what would you do for security of air travel?

Posted by: Yancey Ward on August 14, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

One suggestion, though: Do you think you could use more paragraph breaks? It really is straining to read an entire screen page with no breaks in it.

I guarantee you that if you did this, your well-thought-out would garner more discussion.

Bob
Posted by: rmck1 on August 14, 2006 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I was stuck number-crunching for my job all night and only taking breaks here. My bad about the paragraph breaks.

Thomas:

Well, let's see. How successful have the Israelis been at neutralizing the threat from Arab and Muslim terrorists? Catching a few doesn't help the fact that Israeli policies have led to them ruling over millions of people that are alienated from mainstram Israeli society and are treated as second-class citizens. Alienated group members tend to be more likely to join terrorist groups than non-alienated members. Why we would want to go closer to this policy style is beyond me.

We simply do not have a home-grown terrorist problem here. American Muslims tend to be well-integrated and financially more successful than the average American. Telling one of our most productive social groups that they are less American than others is stupid. If we could simply do things like consolidate our no-fly lists (we have about 3 or 4, which have at times included members of Congress) and make the different federal agencies talk to each other, authorities would be more effective at catching terrorists.

Also, it needs to be repeated, that profiling is not an effective policy. It is less efficient than the other policies I have mentioned above. Airports that have switched from examining profiles like race to examining behavior have pulled aside fewer people but caught more people smuggling things like drugs. This has been proved repeatedly. Why would we want to make authorities follow policies that lead to less effective decision-making? The fact that people like you, Thomas, ignore this just shows you see people as less American than others and therefore a racist.

This reminds me of a time once when I went into a CD store to go look at the rap CD's. Once I was seen looking at gangsta rap CD's, the store employees followed me all around the store. Meanwhile, a couple white kids I knew who happened to be in the store used this opportunity to steal merchandise and leave. They were all happy about it and bragged to me about it once I left the store. No wonder that store went out of business.

Posted by: Reality Man on August 14, 2006 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Why doesn't anyone talk about the root causes of arab political terrorism againist the U.S.? To wit, U.S. corporate investments in the middle east(oil inparticular); unreasonable support of Israel over arab populations; the fiasco in iraq, etc.

Rather than arabs, the more interesting profile would be a profile of those among the U.S. political/corporate elites who got us into this dangerous mess.

Posted by: Hotspur on August 14, 2006 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

Reality Man:

Who says the Israeli airports don't examine behavior?!

Posted by: Thomas on August 14, 2006 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

rmck1-- Needless to say, the second post in this thread was not posted by me.

But you originally posted it a couple of days ago because someone had posted something else under your name. Why were you so fucking out of here for that but now so determined to stay even though your grievance has not been addressed and is recurring? Don't want to "cut and run"? Are you saying "bring it on"?

Posted by: American Hawk on August 14, 2006 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Hotspur:

Did you think there was "unreasonable support" for West Berlin during the Cold War too?

Posted by: Thomas on August 14, 2006 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Wasn't Richard Reid a Muslim?

Yeah, so? He wasn't exactly wearing a big sign saying "Muslim" around his neck, was he? As a half-white, half-Jamaican Briton with a very Anglo name, he didn't exactly scream "Muslim" and hence was essentially invisible to a racial/ethnic/religious based profiling system.

The dangers of such a system, therefore, are that someone like Reid will breeze through while the screeners' time is spent on dealing with the hordes of false positives their system has uncovered. A system that will turn out so many false positives is essentially useless -- it's like a cancer test that tells 99% of the people who take it that they have cancer when they really don't.

Posted by: Stefan on August 14, 2006 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Yancey Ward:

I don't object to that in principle. The trick is, though, to make the process as transparent as possible to the passenger in question.

What Kevin (and many of us) fear(s) is not profiling per se -- it's the alienation factor of subjecting Muslims to a ritual of humiliation on a regular basis not undergone by other passengers. Once in a while -- hey, they tried to bounce Ted Kennedy off a flight because his name was on a terrorist watch list. Stuff happens.

On a regular basis, though, and it could undermine the goodwill we now enjoy with a non-alienated Muslim-American community.

If you keep these protocols discreet, however -- I see no problem in itself with sharing that information with flight crews and air marshals.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on August 14, 2006 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Stefan:

Perhaps we need to increase the number of TSA screeners then -- there is a current legal "limit" for our 450 commercial airports -- as I recall, Reid WAS detained initially, but the politically correct system let him on the next day.

Posted by: Thomas on August 14, 2006 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

Yancey:

Do you think the Normandy invasions approached "perfection" as well?

Posted by: Thomas on August 14, 2006 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Having now read through all of the comments, it would seem that the only rational middle ground is to basically strip/body search every individual boarding a flight.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on August 14, 2006 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Reality Man:

Who says the Israeli airports don't examine behavior?!
Posted by: Thomas on August 14, 2006 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

Well, it does become a bit of an even / or conundrum. When you have a search critieria that includes too many things, the amount you focus on the more important things are diminished. I notice you also didn't respond to my point about alienation. The fact that you ignore the social effects of this policy show the fact that you suffer from following non-consequential ethics. The effects of the policy decisions you want seem to you like they would be more effective in the short term (which they wouldn't be), but you ignore how this makes the problem worse in the long term.

Also, why worry so much about airplanes when there are plenty of locations on the ground in Israel that can be targeted? Suicide bombers in Israel tend to go into action just a couple of days or less after being recruited. It doesn't take a lot of training to press a button. However, it takes a lot of training to fly a plane into a building. If the Palestinians wished to take down more planes, they could do it. However, the likes of Hamas they have focused on quickly recruiting people who can be put into action right away. The PLO has developed a bit of a dual personality, in which it is the most legitimate and socialized of the large parties in the Palestinian Terroritories (in part because it has intimidated other groups into obscurity), but factions within it are likely still involved in terrorism, but have largely been overshadowed by Hamas as a recruiter for terrorists. Notice how the fall of the PLO as the major Palestinian terrorist organization and the rise of Hamas has seen the switch of Palestinian terrorist tactics from more complex attacks like Munich to low-intensity suicide bombing.

Posted by: Reality Man on August 14, 2006 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Thomas or Fake Thomas,

You will have to clarify your question or your point.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on August 14, 2006 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Let me ask you directly: Do you think it is inappropriate to do what I asserted is being done already? If you think it inappropriate, then what would you do for security of air travel?

The theory of what you're describing is not necessarily unreasonable. In practice, however, it doesn't work like that. A friend of mine is a Waspy, American upper middle-class lawyer who, through marriage, happens to have an Arab last name.

She's routinely flagged and, quite often, harassed when travelling through airports. Some of the treatment she's encountered goes far, far beynod what would be necessary to detect a threat and is outright humiliation and harassment -- and remember, this is a completely white, upper-middle class attorney who's not even Muslim. If she's treated this way, imagine how an ordinary Arab Muslim is treated, and imagine the resentment and anger that must create in him.

Posted by: Stefan on August 14, 2006 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

An aside:

The terrorist plot was stopped because a member of the muslim community trusted the British government enough to report suspicious activity.

If you had a family member who you suspected of doing something wrong, wouldn't you still be worried about their treatment?

If your brother might be plotting to kill some or many, wouldn't you still want your brother to have the advantage of a fair trial?

If you'd been routinely harrassed because of the color of your skin or your choice of religions, wouldn't that make you hesitated before reporting someone who shared that skin color or religion?

If you were worried that a member of your church would be whisked off to a foreign country and tortured, with no trial, would that make you less likely to call?

Calling the government on a friend, family member, or even acquaintance is hard, and should be. But it was that kind of a call that potentially saved the lives of hundreds or even thousands. Ethnic profiling, torture, extrodinary rendition, secret prisons and legal black holes discourage those who can help the most.

Fairness and justice aren't just luxuries for safe times, or words to be spouted and then ignored. They make the world safer for all of us.

Posted by: Fides on August 14, 2006 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Having now read through all of the comments, it would seem that the only rational middle ground is to basically strip/body search every individual boarding a flight.
Posted by: Yancey Ward on August 14, 2006 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

I had a female blond friend who claims that racial profiling doesn't take place because she is always stripped searched when she flies. I can't figure out if she realizes that it doesn't have to do with her bad luck, but that she is hot enough that a lot of people out there would want to strip search her. I don't think anyone has had the heart to tell what is really going on.

Posted by: Reality Man on August 14, 2006 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Yancey Ward:

Nice exercise in straw-man facetiae ...

American Hawk:

Dr. Mengele! So glad you could make it to the party, Herr Doktor. If you're going to play the bringing-stuff-up-from-old-threads game, let me announce to all and sundry that this individual, "American Hawk," supports using CHEMICAL WEAPONS against Hezbollah.

Live that one down, pal :)

As for your context-deficient little snark, recall what I said in that post. I wrote to Kevin about registration. I've also had public discussions with others here who have written Kevin about registration. Moving up to a newer version of MoveableType is not a simple thing. The new software is more expensive than a few of us had suspected.

I do have a tolerance point when it comes to full-bore assholery on blogs.

And I think that's all that needs to be said on the subject.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on August 14, 2006 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

Also, remember that Tunisian-born Canadian Muslim who was taken into custody and sent to Syria for torture when he came to visit his son at college? He was innocent of any crime. Why would anyone want this to happen to a loved one, especially if they worried that the person was not actually planning anything and informing on them might get people tortured?

Posted by: Reality Man on August 14, 2006 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

And why are we sending people to Syria of all places for anything? Aren't they like, you know, an enemy nation?

Also, via Andrew Sullivan:
http://time.blogs.com/daily_dish/2006/08/how_serious_is_.html

A senior federal law enforcement official said MI5 also had a distinct advantage over the F.B.I. in that it had a greater store of foreign-language speakers, giving British authorities greater ability to infiltrate conspiracy groups. The F.B.I. still has only a handful of Muslim agents and others who speak Arabic, Urdu or other languages common in the Islamic world.


We have already started firing Arab linguists for being gay while we are understaffed. Giving Arab-Americans less reason to want to help out in the War on Terror by giving them reasons to feel alienated does not seem like the right plan. When you think about it, the support of Americans who have connections to the Middle East and the rest of the Muslim world and understand it are more important when it comes to winning than the support of the average white American.

Posted by: Reality Man on August 14, 2006 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

Reality Man:

Well, let's hope at least that she's being strip-searched by female agents :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on August 14, 2006 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

I doubt if any suicide bombers in Iraq have been black Africans.

At least 2 of the prisoners in level 5 (most dangerous high value) at Abu Ghraib were black Africans. Several prisoners were from from the Caucusus. Except for the yellow jump suits they could have been white guys walking down any European street.

I was watching C-SPan Sat and the former head of Isreali airport security pointed out that the two times Ben Gurion Airport was attacked it was not by anyone who would fit a racial profile but by two Japanese first and the second time by a tall blue eyed blonde.
He said the reason they were able to limit the death and destruction caused by the blond man was because they analysed his actions not his skin color and pulled him aside for further screening.

Posted by: klyde on August 14, 2006 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Stefan,

Then you, rmck1, and I would appear to agree that the present system needs to be more professional and discreet. This, of course, is no argument for discontinuing the random searches that can target anyone.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on August 14, 2006 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Using racial profiling as a blunt instrument is probably not going to be helpful. However, I'm very hard pressed to think that allowing race to be one component of the profile that overwhelmingly describes the terrorists is a bad idea. For instance, how about anyone who conforms to the following profile get the extra pat-down at the airport (though not strictly limiting the extra security to this group):

1) Male between 18 - 45
2) Traveled to Iran, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc. in the last year.
3) Of arab/persian extraction.
4) Traveling alone or with a group of similar people.

This seems like it would cover most of the people who have attacked so far, while limiting the inconvenience inflicted on families who happen to fit the profile, or people who have immigrated from these countries and have not been back for sometime. For immigrants who return to their families frequently, we appologize, but at least we let them know that it's going to happen up front, and not humiliate them by pulling them out of line.

This is obviously not completely thought through, but it seems like it would be a hell of a lot better than the current system.

Posted by: TW Andrews on August 14, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Thomas,

You be back-pedaling big time. Is this your usual strategy - to make an outrageously false claim and then back away from it when confronted?

But taking this to its end - yes, I remember when Bush used the word "crusade" and then stopped using it. How this supports your point that we could have won this thing if Bush could simply speak plainly I don't know. You think if Bush could have continued to use the word 'crusade' we would have been better off? How so?

Speaking of the behaviour profiling - I'm fairly skeptical of the effectiveness of this. Do we really think terrorists haven't heard of beta-blockers? How do they distinguish between someone with a fear of flying and a terrorist?

They won't give specifics of what they are using for criteria so why should we believe it works?

Posted by: Tripp on August 14, 2006 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1-- So you're not leaving? You're not putting pedal to the metal? You're not so fucking out of here? You're not *so* not playing around?

Does that mean you're not really someone who would have to be held back by his buddies if you had an argument with me in a bar?

Can we trust anything you say?

Posted by: American Hawk on August 14, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

I am writing Kevin about this, and I am putting pedal to the metal.

If Kevin can't figure out a way to raise revenue from the regular posters here to update his software and hire someone to do the update so this blog can be registered, I am fucking out of here.

I am *so* not playing around.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on August 14, 2006 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

I swear to gods if I had that conversation in a bar with Hawk, my buddies would have to hold me back before I hauled off and decked the guy.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on August 14, 2006 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan,

She's routinely flagged and, quite often, harassed when travelling through airports. Some of the treatment she's encountered goes far, far beynod what would be necessary to detect a threat and is outright humiliation and harassment -- and remember, this is a completely white, upper-middle class attorney who's not even Muslim. If she's treated this way, imagine how an ordinary Arab Muslim is treated, and imagine the resentment and anger that must create in him.

She should report incidents of harassment to the authorities. The fact that security staff may sometimes abuse their powers is not an argument against profiling.

Posted by: GOP on August 14, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Calling the government on a friend, family member, or even acquaintance is hard, and should be. But it was that kind of a call that potentially saved the lives of hundreds or even thousands. Ethnic profiling, torture, extrodinary rendition, secret prisons and legal black holes discourage those who can help the most.

Ethnic profiling of airline passengers could also potentially save the lives of hundreds or thousands.

Ethnicity alone is probably too broad a characteristic. But ethnicity combined with other characteristics (age and sex, for example) may be a very useful form of profiling.

Posted by: GOP on August 14, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

American Hawk:

Now waitiminute ... let me get this straight. Can I assume here that *you* are the person who's posting things I wrote in other threads here, and signing my name and email address to them -- since they were left, apparently as "evidence," for the point you were trying to make?

Hawk, I thought you were some fiftysomething red-state lawyer who occasionally pops in here to have honest debates with political opponents. As much as we've all ridiculed your positions on the merits, I honestly wouldn't have mistaken you for a misfit troll ...

Now I really don't wish to belabor this, because it's off-topic and doubtless annoying to the regulars, so let me just try to say this once:

That first post I wrote when I was exasperated. It was an overreaction. No doubt there's a point at which this blog could sink to that would drive me away -- as it would doubtless drive away others for the same reasons. Most sane people who like to debate and discuss political issues have a tolerance threshhold for rank juvenility -- and that's why we're on Kevin's blog as opposed to, say, an AOL chatroom. I don't particularly feel like setting forth that criteria in detail (and it was a mistake to do so in the crosspost on top of the thread), because doubtless there are some ugly-souled critters who dwell here who will try to push precisely those buttons.

You know, trolls are an awful lot like terrorists. And civilized people have the same type of frustration in dealing with them than the civilized world has dealing with terrorists. Trolls don't honor the basic standards of civil exchange, and their opponents have a natural aversion to sinking to their level. So we fight "with one hand tied behind our backs" as it were. I've emailed Kevin. I know many, if not most, regulars share my feelings on blog registration. At the moment that's quite good enough for me.

As for slugging you in the mouth because you advocate using chemical weapons in Hezbollah's tunnels -- I fully stand behind that statement. It's utterly loathesome to hear alleged patriots so willing to wipe their asses with things that set us apart from the uncivilized.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on August 14, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Reality Man, you need your own blog. Your posts have been some of the most articulate and well-argued statements I've seen on the subject.

Posted by: Hank Scorpio on August 14, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Hank Scopio,

Could you tell me where you got the office hammocks?

Posted by: Yancey Ward on August 14, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

"If racial profiling of terrorists doesn't work, why does Israel do it on El Al flights"

If profiling is such an effective means of rooting out one's enemies, why does Israel STILL need to do it? Race profiling is a tool for hoodwinking the frightened into thinking you're protecting them.


"I knew when I saw that woman dumping her Oil of Olay into a trash barrel and spewing snot about 'being safer' that the terrorists, both domestic and foreign, had won."
FoM

Posted by: Salt on August 14, 2006 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

If we spent a tenth of the amount we spend on this Godforsaken war in police we wouldn't have to worry about "terrorists". Of course we need to become friends with the rest of the world again.

Posted by: darby1936 on August 14, 2006 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Salt,

If profiling is such an effective means of rooting out one's enemies, why does Israel STILL need to do it?

Huh? What a bizarre question. They "still" need to do it because there is still a serious risk to their flights.

Posted by: GOP on August 14, 2006 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

I like the idea of rejecting the explicit adoption of a policy of ethnic profiling. But I think as long as we're facing the threat of totalitarian Islamist terrorism, we're going to at least be using implied ethnic profiling. To put in another way, please tell me in which alternate universe a 24 year-old Yemeni graduate student doesn't receive more scrutiny at JFK than a 74 year-old grandmother from New Jersey with a Jewish surname?

Posted by: backspace on August 14, 2006 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

I think Yancey Ward raises a valid question: " If you think [racial profiling] inappropriate, then what would you do for security of air travel"

The consensus on this thread seems to be that "racial profiling" isn't very effective--because it is very hard to identify who might be a Muslim terrorist --and such discrimination alienates the innocent.

Okay, so we continue to do random spot checks of everyone so as not to offend those innocents who might be mistaken as terrorists because they look vaguely "Arab". So now my 82-year old anglo-irish mother can be patted down when she travels, and this is less offensive because no group is singled out and the procedure is ineffective anyway.

So what can we do for the security of air travel? We are beginning to realize that we may not be able to exterminate terrorists or eradicate hate by bombing nations. We are becoming aware that we can't predict who may be dangerous to our security because a "Muslim terrorist" doesn't have obvious physical features. Meanwhile we can't carry toothpaste or liquids on airplanes because terrorists could carry on acetone & concentrated hydrogen peroxide in Gatorade bottles and mix a powerful explosive right there in seats 36A & 36B.

The problem seems to arise from the fact that we have been living in an open society under the good-natured assumption that we can trust other people even though they are strangers. For example, until recently when we boarded a plane, we could trust that the other passengers--though unknown to us and differing in race, religion, ethnicity, class--were not homicidal maniacs who hated us and intended to murder us. We obviously can't assume that anymore.

So, are we ready for identity cards?

Posted by: PTate in MN on August 14, 2006 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

"As far as i know, this rule applies to anyone born in one of seven countries, regardless of their current nationality. I believe the countries are Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Syria and (I think) N Korea."
You would think at least Saudi Arabia would be in there!
Having a fixed policy of profiling would be as stupid as not all owing any profiling. When dealing with a threat you need to be flexible, trying to guess where the danger is coming from and doing your best to block it. Looking for suspicious groups on a number of criterea makes a great deal of sense, especially in the short term. Right now most big terror attacks are coming from Muslims. If you knew what religion people were, a limited amount of religious profiling would make sense. But this alone is not enough, nor must you ever target one group so hard you turn a complete blind eye to another. Yes, it might be a pain if you are a muslim and get searched more often, but it is other muslims that are mainly in this right now. On the other hand if you want to search people for handguns near abortion clinics, you would choose a different profile. Next question - how to design a quick test that will detirmine what religion someone is? Ideology not race is probably the predictor.

Posted by: profiler on August 14, 2006 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

So I'll put Kevin Drum down as a conscientious objector to affirmative action.

That was something I did not know.

Posted by: Birkel on August 14, 2006 at 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

P Tate in Mn,

The profiling does not just occur based on appearance. It is a certainty that your name, identity, and background is examined before you arrive at the airport.

I agree that singling people out of the lineup for public scrutiny is going to cause resentment. As a commenter wrote above, it appears that a lot of the screening occurs in enclosed rooms, out of public sight. I am not privy to how the security is conducted, but it seems very likely that the random checks are not only done for their explicit security value, but also as a cover for specific individual examinations.

The holes in security arises for domestic flights in which a would be terrorist may use a pseudonym and false identification to hide his background. A hard to forge national identity card might help in this regard, but you would still have the problem of someone using a recently stolen card to board a flight. My guess is that if a plane is taken down, you will not be allowed any carry on items at all, and the process of security adjustments and terrorists replies will go through another iteration.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on August 15, 2006 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Learn more about how Israel does this sort of thing. After all, many Israelis can pass easily as Arab and Arabs as Israelis.


As for Chinese Muslims: hard to find god and give up pork in traditional Chinese cooking!

Posted by: fred lapides on August 15, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Yancey Ward: "The profiling does not just occur based on appearance. It is a certainty that your name, identity, and background is examined before you arrive at the airport."

I would be delighted to know, when I boarded an international flight from London to the US, that someone had checked and double-checked to identify anyone on board with suspicious ties to Pakistan, Al Qaeda or radical Islam.

Even though a national identity card can be stolen or fraudulent, it is one way to provide a "public reputation" in an open, but threatened, society. I hope it doesn't get to that.

The problem continues to be the one you first raised: what can we do to ensure the security of air travel?

Posted by: PTate in Mn on August 15, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

It is now received wisdom that the WWII internment of Japanese immigrants and Americans of Japanese descent on the West Coast was an agregious error. But I wonder if security was not in fact enhanced by that draconian measure.

In criminal law, we cling to the notion that it is better that 100 guilty men go free than 1 innocent man be imprisoned. All are, by law, innocent until proven guilty. But should we prosecute war according to the standards of criminal law?

Certainly, there are many who think so. For some, they have no problem prosecuting simple soldiers for civilian deaths. They go on and on about violations of international law - whatever that is.

As a nation, we have not yet become serious about fighting terrorism. This post, and this tiresome debate is evidence of that. The truth is that in war, MANY MANY innocent people are caught in the crossfire, both actual and political. It has always been such.

Unless or until we, as a nation and as a culture, get to the point where we decide that the value of our way of life exceeds the value of the comfort and, yes, even the lives of some innocent people, we will be ineffective in our collective efforts to fight Islamofascist terrorists. Until we are willing to accept that a certain amount of injustice in inevitable and unavoidable, there is no real hope for success.

The real question is what will it take for us collectively to reach that point? It appears that for some, their precious utopian aspirations will never allow them to reach that point - no matter the provocation. Others have already reached that point, and are tremendously frustrated by the incompetent, ineffective half measures that we have taken so far.

As for me personally, I initially opposed the Iraq invasion. I signed on when I thought (apparently erroneously) that the purpose was to establish a foothold in the region from which we would expand our efforts into Iran, Syria, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. Given that the Administration has stopped short of such bold measures, I feel betrayed.

While I have a measure of sympathy for trying to bring freedom to once oppressed people, my first allegiance is to the USA - the rest of the world be damned. The whole point of the Iraq invasion, by my understanding, was to secure America and American lives. The whole point of the invasions and disruptions in our everyday lives was the security of America and American lives.

But it appears that political correctness and cultural sensitivity are more important to some than the very survival of Western Democracy and of the security of the USA in particular. I cannot relate to these people who would sacrifice the security of my children and of my family for their utopian ideals. I just cannot.

One day, at some point in the future, something is going to happen that will finally cause the mass of Americans to rise up, and discard the fools who suppose that peace is the natural state of mankind, and that it can be brought into being by kind words and good intentions. At some point, because of the lack of moral courage on the part of these misguided people, we will suffer a catastrophe large enough to bring us face to face with the natural depravity of man. At that point, I hope we will have the courage remaining in this nation to finally rise up and do what MUST be done. But I must confess that I am not sure that we will. If we don't, then we have only ourselves to blame for the demise and destruction of all we hold dear.

Farouq Dhondy says that "only with the help of Muslims can terrorism be defeated. Which I would have thought was a blindingly obvious sentiment myself."

This is a patently false statement.

A similar statement would be "it would be impossible to beat the Nazi's without the help of Germans." After all, not all Germans were Nazi's.

A better way to phrase it is "with our current strategies and cultural sensitivities and with our current fear of offending anyone, only with the help of Muslims can terrorism be defeated."

But strategies can change, sensitivities can be discarded, and fear can be overcome.

FDR said that "the only thing to fear was fear itself." Today, that should be rephrased to "the only thing to fear is ourselves." The Muslims of the world are not keeping us from victory. It is our own misguided allegiances to our own impossible utopian dreams that are keeping us from victory. Once we discard our illusions, we can win - but not until.

Posted by: Scott Harris on August 15, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

One other thought on Bainbridge's comment: "If we sacrifice our principles in the name of expediency, aren't we betraying what makes us different from our opponents?"

When we realize that this war is not about "our princiles", but rather about our very survival, we might then be willing to take the necessary measures to secure victory. There has NEVER been a successful war fought where principles did not get compromised. To think that such a thing is possible is naive. As for me, I value the LIVES of my children over anyone's cherished PRINCIPLES.

Posted by: Scott Harris on August 15, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

PTate,

I guess I would just refer you to the comment and quote that Jay Ackroyd made in the blog entry above, "Republicans and National Security". The essential point is that you can adjust to the tactics used in a particular situation (bombing airplanes with liquid IEDs), but you will always be one step behind the terrorists because they will adapt, and the danger will always be there.

Short of putting all passengers asleep, searching their bodies thoroughly, placing them on the plane, and flying them to their destinations, you will not foreclose the possibility of terrorists bringing down a plane (and even my extreme scenario does not stop a terrorist from buying off a mechanic to place a device to disable the plane in flight).

I think we have already taken most of the reasonable precautions, and if it is really easy to make a liquid bomb (and as an organic chemist I can assure you it is easy), then not allowing unexamined liquids aboard is likely to be the new adjustment. However, this is a neverending battle, and we are only discussing a single avenue of terrorist attack- there are numerous others.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on August 15, 2006 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Scott Harris: "One day, at some point in the future, something is going to happen that will finally cause the mass of Americans to rise up, and discard the fools who suppose that peace is the natural state of mankind, and that it can be brought into being by kind words and good intentions."

I infer that you are not a Christian and regard Gandhi as just a impractical little guy in a diaper?

Posted by: PTate in MN on August 15, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Ptate,

Ghandi would have been quickly killed in a true totalitarian state, so his effectiveness was directly linked to Western cultural values of tolerance. To suppose that a Ghandi type figure would be effective in the Middle East is laughable.

As far a being Christian, one of the core doctrines of Christianity is the depravity of man. And Jesus did not promise peace among men, but peace with God. Look up Matthew 10:34 "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."

So spare me your pseudo-Christianity. Christianity is a martial religion - and always has been.

Posted by: Scott Harris on August 15, 2006 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Scott Harris. "Christianity is a martial religion - and always has been."

Wow! You take one line out of context, misconstrue it, and think that because Christ talks about "bringing swords, not peace" that Christianity is martial religion?? You think that one of the core tenets of Christianity is the DEPRAVITY of humankind? Is that what right-wing Christianists are teaching to rationalize their fear and aggression?

I guess modern scholarship has discredited those wimpy Beatitudes ( "blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." MT 5:9), Christ's healing ministry, and his difficult commandments to turn the other cheek and love your enemies (MT5:38-48).

Where do you imagine that European culture of tolerance came from in the first place???

Posted by: PTate in MN on August 15, 2006 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

PTate,

The phrase, "European culture of tolerance", is a near oxymoron in a historical context. They are certainly more tolerant today, but I suspect that has to do with horrors of World War II and the influence that American culture has had since the war's end.

However, I would have to agree with Scott, Christianity is a martial religion, as are most religions.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on August 16, 2006 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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