In praise of profiling 16

“Profiling” is stereotyping. For some reason it’s the preferred synonym.

Let’s for the moment call it stereotyping. We all stereotype all the time. We judge people as soon as we meet them by their appearance, what they say and how they say it, the first impression they make. Later, if we get to know them, we may revise our first judgment. Stereotyping is a very useful short-cut. We may like the idea of suspending judgment until all or many facts are in, but we haven’t the time. We don’t live like that.

Instant judgment may involve liking or disliking this or that “type” of person. Taking an instant dislike to someone is not the same as wishing him to be discriminated against legally or socially. Only collectivists think that way. Individualists, though certainly and necessarily capable of stereotyping, will always be aware that no generalization about  class, race,  gender, style, accent, origins, descent or anything else used to categorize people, however broadly true, can be assumed to characterize any single individual in that group.

When it comes to the adherents of a particular ideology, however, there is a difference. They are identifying themselves with a group. If a member of that group wears a badge, in dress, for instance, or a pin in the lapel, he is asking to be identified with that set of ideas, that movement, those aims.

And if that group, motivated by those ideas and aims, has declared itself your enemy, and has attacked you violently, you would be very foolish not to take particular precautions for your safety whenever a person obviously belonging to that group approaches you. He may have no thought of harming you. But you’d be an idiot not to beware of him.

In connection with these thoughts, here is a fresh look at “racial profiling”.

In an article that we think shows much common sense, Selwyn Duke makes the case for it.

Some extracts:

The critics of Arizona’s new immigration law complain that it will lead to “racial profiling.” In response, the law’s defenders point out that the legislation specifically forbids the practice.

Both groups are wrong.

They accept two false suppositions. The first is that the practice in question is immoral.

The second is that “racial profiling” actually exists.

Generally speaking, it does not — that is, not in the sense of a phenomenon widespread enough to warrant continual media attention. In reality, there are only two kinds of profiling: good profiling and bad profiling. Let’s discuss the difference.

Profiling is simply a method by which law enforcement can determine the probability that an individual has committed a crime or has criminal intent. Now, when making this assessment, many different factors are considered. Some have to do with age, sex, dress, behavior, the car being driven, whether or not a person is “out of place” (e.g., a well-dressed fellow in a BMW cruising a drug-plagued neighborhood), and, yes, some have to do with race. But whatever the criteria, good profiling chooses them in accordance with sound criminological science. And as soon as we subordinate that standard to anything, such as political or social concerns, we have rendered it bad profiling.

We also render it unfair. That is, contrary to the notion that using racial factors in profiling is discriminatory, in the negative sense of the word, it is actually the refusal to consider them that is so.

I’ll explain. I’m a member of one of the most profiled groups in the country: males. Law enforcement views us much more suspiciously than females because we commit an inordinate amount of crime. And we aren’t the only ones, as youths also attract a jaundiced eye for the same reason. Now, if considering race when profiling is “racism,” isn’t considering sex and age “sexism” and “ageism”?

The truth is that none of these things are any kind of ism. And is it just to discriminate among higher-crime-incidence groups — scrutinizing some more closely but not others — based on whether they are in or out of favor politically and socially?

This is where the capital-D discrimination lies. If you’re male or a teen, you’re fair game. But, for instance, when the matter is Muslims, the double standards fly. When seeking to identify terrorists, the people who have no problem placing the probing eye on males warn that Muslims mustn’t receive extra scrutiny. But why? As far as the terrorist threat facing the West goes, “Muslim” is a more consistent part of the terrorist profile than is “male,” as there have been more female suicide bombers than non-Muslim ones.

Some may say we must be especially sensitive with regard to race (yes, I realize “Islamic” isn’t a race), but this is silly for two reasons. First, it is a hang-up; it is suicidal to sacrifice blood on the altar of political correctness. Second, there is no blanket refusal to consider racial factors when profiling. For example, part of the profile for serial killers and methamphetamine dealers is “Caucasian.”

Likewise, given that more than 90 percent of the illegals in Arizona hail from Mexico and Latin America, isn’t “Hispanic” part of the relevant profile here? Mind you, the operative word is “part.” To say “This person appears to be of Mexican descent, so he must be illegal” is no different than assuming that every white person deals meth — it would be bad profiling.

As Dr. Walter Williams once wrote:

What about using race or ethnicity as proxies for some unobserved characteristic? Some racial and ethnic groups have a higher incidence of mortality from various diseases than the national average. In 1998, mortality rates for cardiovascular diseases were approximately 30 percent higher among black adults than among white adults. Cervical cancer rates were almost five times higher among Vietnamese women in the United States than among white women. The Pima Indians of Arizona have the highest known diabetes rates in the world. Prostate cancer is nearly twice as common among black men as white men.

After Dr. Williams discusses how the prevalence of certain diseases correlates with race, he asks, “Would one condemn a medical practitioner for advising greater screening and monitoring of black males for cardiovascular disease and prostate cancer, or greater screening and monitoring for cervical cancer among Vietnamese American females, and the same for diabetes among Pima Indians?”

Unfortunately, when the matter is the social disease of crime, we not only condemn such a practice, we fire the good diagnosticians. For example, in an older article about former attorney general John Ashcroft’s investigation of 13 cities for “racial profiling” (thank you, George Bush), ABC reports on efforts to eradicate the practice and writes, “police officials who defended profiling have been removed from their posts.” Translation: Our security has been placed in the hands of PC lackeys.

Whether the crime is violating borders, bodies or buildings, whether it’s committed in Arizona or Anytown USA, good profiling is not just part of law enforcement.

It’s the heart of law enforcement.

What do you think the legal standard of “reasonable suspicion” is? What should the police be suspicious of? Only males, teens, and whites in certain situations?

The bigots are not those who support good profiling, which scrutinizes all groups in accordance with sound criminological science. It is the Times Square bombing-analyst hopers (such as Contessa Brewer) who play pin the tale on the honkey …

America, we need to end our hang-up with race — before it ends us.

Posted under Commentary, Defense, immigration, Islam, jihad, Muslims, Terrorism by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, May 25, 2010

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