Racist, Xenophobic Republicans Want to Revive Profiling to Circumvent TSA Screening

As the TSA screening debate rages on, some despicable right-wingers are using it as an excuse to vent their own racism. This week, Reps. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) both went on separate shows to discuss their support for racial and religious profiling as a way to get around new TSA screening tactics. The Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer blamed the pat-downs on “the absurd taboo against racial profiling,” joining a growing chorusof racial profiling advocates that, typically, includes Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh. But while their justification–aside from their inherent proprietary assertion of white privilege–is that racial profiling is incredibly effective, that's a false notion shot down by former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff last week.


In 2009, Chertoff stated similar sentiments to NPR:

ROBERT SIEGEL (host): How should the U.S. reconcile reasonable, ethical restraints on profiling with some obvious facts that this sort of thing has been done by Muslim men, typically, and also of a certain age. One could focus pretty heavily on Muslim men under 40 and come up with lots of the people who are posing threats.

Mr. CHERTOFF: Actually Robert, I'm going to argue that this case illustrates the danger and the foolishness of profiling because people's conception of what a potential terrorist looks like often doesn't match reality. In this case we had a Nigerian, for example, not a person from the Middle East or from South Asia. If you look at the airline plot of 2006, two of the plotters were a married couple that were going to get on a plane with a young baby. The terrorists understand that the more they vary the kind of operative they use, the more likely they're going to be able to exploit prejudices if we allow those prejudices to guide the way we conduct our investigation.

SIEGEL: Your objection to profiling is not just as an ethical matter, it's a point of efficacy also. You're saying it doesn't work.

Mr. CHERTOFF: I think it's not only problematic from civil rights' standpoint, but frankly, I think it winds up not being terribly effective.

As Think Progress points out, “recent terror suspects undermine the notion that terrorists “all look alike.”

Shoe bomber Richard Reid was a white, Jamaican-born British citizen; underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutalla was Nigerian; and “Jihad Jane” Colleen Renee LaRose, who was arrested in March on charges that she wanted to “wage violent jihad,” was a “petite” blond-haired, blue-eyed 46-year-old American woman.

But “catching terrorists” isn't what these racial-profiling advocates are really interested in. If it was, they would pay attention to the facts. Read more at Think Progress.

AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at November 23, 2010, 5:37am

Sign Up!
Get AlterNet's Daily Newsletter in Your Inbox
+ sign up for additional lists
Select additional lists by selecting the checkboxes below before clicking Subscribe:
Election 2018
Today's Top Stories