More on racial profiling...
Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal is a terrific reporter. Here she chimes in on racial profiling and terrorism.
Among other lessons of 9/11, we have learned the cost of squeamishness that prevented closer scrutiny of young Arab men entering the country even when their behavior raised suspicions. In an exceptionally powerful series airing on the National Geographic Channel on Aug. 21 and 22, titled "Inside 9/11," an airline ticket-taker recalls being stunned by the strange look on the face of customer Mohamed Atta--particularly the unsettling fury the man exuded. Still, he could not bring himself to raise any alarm: indeed, when he heard later that the plane Atta was on had been one of those that crashed in the terror attacks, the agent felt terrible. Terrible because he had been suspicious of the passenger and thought he could be a terrorist and now the poor man was dead. It was a while before the ticket agent grasped that the man he suspected was, in fact, hijacker-in-chief and pilot of the plane.Please read the whole thing.
As the admirable Tony Blair is now discovering after announcing his determination that "multiculturalist concerns" will not be allowed to impede the struggle to rid his nation of terrorists, a thorny road lies ahead. Islamic civil rights organizations and others immediately warned that the only result of his efforts would be to "alienate" young Muslims. Translation: cause them to become terrorists. In short, the prime minister must accede to blackmail in his dealing with Muslim communities.
Ethnic/racial profiling may not, in fact, work very well as a security strategy--but the frenzy of the attacks it has excited tells more than we may want to know about our post-9/11 condition. Large numbers of citizens of every religion and ethnicity lost their lives in the terrorist attacks. Today, a strategy designed to help ensure that such a calamity will not again occur has been converted to a bizarre race-discrimination issue, subordinated to the concerns and ambitions of politicians. This won't, in the end, do much for the office-seekers and -holders now competing for the honor of delivering the most hysterical denunciations of ethnic and racial profiling. What, after all, can citizens (black and brown among them) think of leaders still prepared to argue that young Arab males receive no more scrutiny than the famous 80-year-old little grandmother--and that the people's security lies in measures clearly the least suited to assuring their safety?