Questions On Racial Profiling

Imagine you’re driving around, you’re near a military base, but not on one, instead on perfectly public and free highway, perhaps on a roadtrip with your buddy, enjoying a much deserved vacation from the rigors of school.  Continue to imagine, if you will, that you are then pulled over for speeding.  Your buddy puts away a laptop and you’re nervous and the cop asks to search your vehicle, finding perhaps old fireworks.  At this point, how likely do you think it is that the FBI would now be involved in your case?

Being a white, seemingly Christian, male, I’m pretty sure there would be no FBI.  That’s not to say I wouldn’t have my laptop with me.  Like any good blogger I do have my laptop on my passenger seat ready to go for some random hot action blogging at least half the time I’m in my car.  Further, I don’t do well around cops.  Having few run ins with the law, the only time I ever was pulled over for a speeding ticket (35 in a 25), I damn near peed in my pants, and couldn’t tell the officer a straight story to save my life.

I was given a speeding ticket.  Granted, I didn’t have fireworks or incendiary devices of any other kind in my trunk, but there you go.

For Yousef Samir Megahed and Ahmed Abda Sherf Mohamed, their fate was significantly different, and the FBI have taken over the case.

It’s too early to know the ending of this story as testing of the incendiary devices found are still underway.  Indeed, from the stance the FBI has taken, as well as that of the families involved, this all seems to be something of a misunderstanding.

Of course, this is not a misunderstanding at all.  This is called racial profiling.  Had these two men not been of Middle Eastern decent, there would be little to nothing suspicious about two guys on a road trip with some fireworks, and pvc piping and model rocket engines.  In fact, when tied to a laptop, this could either be a bomb in the making, or, some zany engineering experiment.

Hey, I know me some engineers, they do some crazy things.

But, as many may argue, what’s the big deal?  So what if a few Arabs get treated poorly?  They’re the ones that attacked us.  They’re the ones that will attack us again, we have to do this to keep safe.

Of course this is cowardice driven bullshit.  One thing the War in Iraq has taught us is that not all Arabs are the same considering that Iraq had absolutely, positively, zero, none, nicht, nil, nada, nothing to do with the terrorist attacks of September 11th.  NONE!

To engage in racial profiling is not very far removed at all from encouraging resegregation.

But for the “I’m in it for me” crowd, there’s a reason for you not to want to go in for the whole racial profiling thing too.  For one, and I keep trying and trying to pound this through many people’s extremely thick skulls, not all terrorists are Arabic or Muslim.  If you only focus on the Arabic of Muslim community, you’re begging to get blindsided by non-Arabic/Muslim terrorist activity in the future.

For another thing, there is such a thing as the golden rule.  There are benefits to fair and equal treatment, and perils to be endured by engaging in prejudiced treatment.  You can take a peaceful man, and turn him into your enemy through your own actions, and I fear that this is something that we have been doing now for years, particularly following the 9/11 attacks.

Someone may be a good guy before, but how likely do you think it is that he will be after we unfairly jailed him, prosecuted him, and treated him?

 Update: In the original writing of this story I relayed an anecdote by an email correspondence without express written permission, and have been asked to strike it from the record.  I take full responsibility, and have removed the text from the article.  I also wish to express my full and sincere apologies to the offended party who at this time wishes to remain unnamed.

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