America Needs Racial Profiling Based Upon Ethnicity and National Origin

America Needs Racial Profiling Based Upon Ethnicity and National Origin

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Hypothesis: The events of September 11th has caused racial profiling, a practice that was vilified by many years ago, has become a common and accepted practice used by the government, airline officials, police agencies, and the American public. Profiling has also become a necessary tool used to prevent further terrorist attacks on the United States.

Map of the Territory:

I. Racial profiling is the practice of “selecting someone for investigation or stronger action on the basis of race, national origin or ethnicity.” (Weinstien, Finnegan and Wantanabe 1)
A. Racial profiling is a practice that has been debated and for the most part vilified over the last decade.
1. Before September 11th the majority of Americans “felt that racial profiling is a wide spread phenomenon, and that it must be rooted out.” (Harris 1)
2. Various laws were passed prior to September 11th, banning racial profiling by police officers. One such law is S.989 the End Racial Profiling act of 2001, which uses data collection as tool to gather information as to who is being targeted and to hold police officers and agencies accountable.
3. The most publicized incidents of racial profiling involved New Jersey police officers targeting black men, puling them over and searching there cars looking for drugs. From this the term “driving while black” was coined.
C. Even before September 11th Arab-Americans experienced forms for racial profiling.
     1.In the 1970’s the view of Arabs as terrorists became prevalent, and again during the Gulf War. During this time Elected-officials in the United States who were of Arab decent were questioned by the FBI regarding terrorism being planned in the U.S. (Samhan, 2)
     2. It is the view of some sociologists that before September 11th the public in the United States had an already negative view toward people of Arab decent but most gave little thought to the subject. (Deaux, 4)
II. Following the attacks of September 11th the racial profiling of Arab Americans has become much more prevalent.
A. In the days following the attack the majority of Americans reacted to anyone of Arab decent with fear and anger.
     1. Between September 11th and November 9th the American Arab Anti Discrimination Committee confirmed 520 violent incidents directed toward Arab Americans, and 27 incidents in which Arab Americans have been expelled from a flight. Complaints from Arab Americans to the ADC also include employment discrimination, law enforcement profiling, and tensions in schools. (ADC, 1)
     2. These incidents have been compared to the treatment of Japanese Americans during WW2, culminating in their internment.

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B. The government has had a contradictory stance on Racial profiling since September 11th.
     1. Publicly President Bush has denounced the practice of profiling Arab Americans and has urged all of the American people not to practice it.
     2. Laws such as the USA Patriot Act which gives the government sweeping powers to detain, search, watch, anyone based on suspicion. The government has also decided to try non-citizens in military tribunals instead of civilian courts.
     3. Another tactic the government is using is calling in 5,000 men of Arab decent holding temporary visas in for interviews with police agencies regarding possible knowledge of the terrorist attacks.
      a) Some police agencies have refused to do the interviews on the basis that it violates the men’s civil rights. Portland police were the first to refuse with many other agencies following their lead.
IV. While the reaction from the Arab community to the racial profiling has been deeply resentful there is also understanding.
A. The Arab community is trying thorough the media, and through their own community improve their image. They would like the rest of the United States to see that they are first and foremost Americans, and that they are just as outraged about the attacks as the rest of Americans.
B. The ACLU has also stepped in to help Arab Americans in there fight against racial profiling, by providing lawyers to those who need one and helping those who have been discriminated against take legal action.
V. The American public has completely changed its views regarding racial profiling since September 11th.
A. In a Gallup poll taken a few days after the attacks 68% of those polled were in favor authorities “randomly stopping people who fit the profile of suspected terrorists.” Another Gallup poll found that a majority of Americans favor requiring people of Arab decent to “undergo special, more intensive security checks before boarding airplanes in the U.S.” (Weinstein, Finnegan, Wantanabe, 1). Even black Americans who have experienced racial profiling in the past favor such measures being taken when dealing with Arab Americans.
B. Given the nature of the attacks against the U.S. it is impossible for people not to profile Arabs, whether it is conscious or unconscious.
     1. Harvard professor Lawrence Tribe believes that Americans “may not aspire to take into account these factors, but it is like standing in the corner of the room trying not to think about a green elephant in the room because we are told not to think about it.”
     2. This type of unconscious profiling is due to the fact that in this war against terrorism there is no clear enemy, but the one common characteristic of the hijackers on September 11th, and of the perception of who a terrorist is, is that they are all people of Arab decent.
VI. There is no clear cut solution that would provide a safe nation while keeping civil liberties intact, but by using racial profiling as a tool the right way can be beneficial to all Americans.
A. The first step is that the government needs to admit that racial profiling is a tool that is used.
B. Racial profiling needs to be part of an overall system, race can be a factor but it must not be the only factor.
C. The racial profiling should only be used under compelling circumstance, such as September 11th.
D. There needs to be a circumstance in which racial profiling will obviously help an investigation.
E. Finally the government needs to pass legislation to set up a very clear guideline and set of rules as to when and how racial profiling can be used.


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