Sunday, March 18, 2012

Profiling, Period

The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg gets it re scrutiny at airports:
There are a fair number of interesting comments that follow my post this morning on about security at Ben-Gurion airport, and I've received a fair number of harsh e-mails about it as well, mainly along these lines:
You can think it's funny to advocate for ethnic profiling in American airports, but as an Arab who has traveled through the Tel Aviv airport, I can tell you that it's a disgusting, racist process targeting an imaginary threat, in which Arabs are considered terrorists until proven otherwise.
First, everyone traveling through Ben-Gurion is considered to be a terrorist until proven otherwise. Second, I don't argue for ethnic or racial profiling in American airports, and I've never argued for such practices. I argue for profiling, period. Profiling would allow the TSA to get a much better handle on who is getting on American airplanes, and why they're getting on. The questioning that passengers should undergo would go a long way to weeding out potential threats. I oppose racial or ethnic profiling not only on ethical grounds, but practical grounds as well. If the TSA were only looking critically at Arab passengers, for instance, it would miss many other sorts of threats (including, by the way, people of different races and nationalities who have converted to Islam, as in the case of the shoe bomber, Richard Reid).
In Israel, the situation is a little different. Israel is in open conflict with several Muslim terror groups, many with active and large memberships in territory controlled by Israel. It's hard to argue with Israeli security when it says that the main threats to El Al and other airlines flying out of Israel come from these Muslim terror groups. It is also absurd to argue that the threat is "imaginary." A small but not inconsequential number of Muslims, Arab and otherwise, are actively trying to kill Jews, and have been actively trying to kill Jews for quite a while...
Words to live by--literally.

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