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Racial Profiling in Fighting Terrorism

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Dictionary.com defines racial profiling as the practice of substituting skin colour for evidence as grounds for suspicion. This means that racial profiling happens when someone is considered a suspect for a certain crime simply because they belong to a certain race. In his Washington Post column, titled “You cannot fight terrorism with racism”, Colbert King goes into an analysis of racial profiling and its evils, after being prompted by two articles in the New York Times and Post. Colbert writes that in the first article, Paul Sperry endorses the practice of using ethnicity, national origin religion as primary factors in deciding whom the police should consider as being possible terrorists. He adds that those articles approve of the practice of denying people their constitutional rights by constantly subjecting them to suspicion, hence, making their lives miserable. Mr. King goes into a detailed analysis of events in which racial profiling led to the severe undermining of the rights of certain people, like in the unlawful shooting of  a young Brazilian man suspected to be a terrorist because of his brown complexion.

He also states that Sperry’s description of what a terrorism suspect looks like targets his two sons, the younger one a brown-skinned New-Yorker who shaves his head and moustache, and the older one, also brown- skinned with short haircut and a wearer of cologne. This observation brings to light the careless and trivial nature of Sperry’s assertions that men with a shaved head, or a short haircut, with a recently shaved beard or moustache, and wearing flowery scents should be treated suspiciously in trains. Colbert then gives examples of instances when white men of caucasian origin carried out several terrorist attacks, thereby  insisting that terrorism is not a race thing, and that it is not just young men of North African, South Asian and Middle Eastern origin who should be treated with suspicion, as was erroneously stated by Krauthammer in his Post column.

In essence, the point that Colbert brings across is that everyone is a suspect of terrorism and that it is extremely unfair to subject people of certain races to suspicion, torture and even death because of their skin colour with no evidence of any terrorist activities carried out by them. He says that racial profilers support offensive and insulting thoughts, and deed, thus supporting racism.

Colbert’s theory of racial profiling is extremely useful because it sheds light on the difficult problem of racism that has plagued our societies. It is exceedingly unfortunate, to say the least, that in  what should be the 21st century democratic world, people still look at others and judge them, not only  by who they really are on the inside, but according to the color of their skin. Martin Luther King would have been very disappointed. I agree that racial profiling is a disease that, like  cancer, is spreading fast in our societies because, though I have not experienced it myself, my friends’ embarrassing and humiliating experiences confirm it. I also agree that this point needs emphasizing because so many people believe that people from certain regions of the world are terrorists, a myth that should not be in existence. Those unfamiliar with this school of thought and ideas might be more interested to acknowlege that it basically boils down to a person’s character and their personal motivations and not their skin complexion.

That said, Mr. King is right that racial profiling is a societal evil, but he also seems oblivious to the fact that it is up to these suspect nations to prove the rest of the world wrong. Sure, it is always bad to judge a person purely on the basis of how they present themselves, but these targeted groups of  people seem to be doing nothing about their situation. If they truly want to fight racism, they should show the people judging them that they are, in fact, good people with no intention of hurting others by stopping any terrorism activities. Laws should be instituted in these countries banning terrorist activities and  heavy penalties instituted on those found guilty of terrorism. Only then will the world develop a different view of them and begin the fight against racial profiling.

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