The Effects of Racial Profiling and its Use in the War on Terrorism
Benjamin Todd Jealous once said that “Racial profiling punishes innocent individuals for the actions of those who outlook and sound like them. It misdirects crucial resources and undercuts the trust needed between law enforcement they serve. It has no place in our national discourse, and no place in our nation’s police departments.” Racial profiling has been a deeply rooted problem in law enforcement agencies going back several hundred years; starting with the systematic racial profiling of African Americans and other minority groups. Later on during the “War on Drugs” profiling became focused primarily on the African Americans and Hispanics. In the same way, Muslims and Middle Eastern immigrants were persecuted by law enforcement following the terrorist attacks of September 11th. Racial profiling is a pertinent issue that must be corrected among law enforcement agencies in the United States. The war on terrorism has allowed law enforcement and the citizens of the United States to forget that the practice of racial profiling is an unjust ineffective method of counterterrorism, that infringes upon the rights of innocent citizens.
Prior to the terroristic attacks of September 11th, minority groups were targeted for racial profiling during and after the “War on Drugs” campaign in the 1970s. For instance, the Drug Policy Alliance states, “The drug war has produced profoundly unequal outcomes across racial groups, manifested through racial discrimination by law enforcement and disproportionate drug war misery suffered by communities of color.” (Drug Policy Alliance.) This points to the conclusion that minority groups were subjected to biased and partial treatment by law enforcement prior to the events of September 11th. “Higher arrest and incarceration rates for these communities are not reflective of increased prevalence of drug use, but rather of law enforcement’s focus on urban areas, lower income communities, and communities of color.” (Drug Policy Alliance.) Despite the fact that minority groups were often singled out, many still made the assumption that the higher arrest and incarceration rates could be accredited to the use of racial profiling. In closing, racial profiling during the “War on Drugs” campaign affected minorities by subjecting them to discrimination from law enforcement personnel.
Perspectives on the tolerance of racial profiling
There are many different views and perspectives on the topic of racial profiling, as a result, there have been many disputes on laws and guidelines regarding racial profiling. Minorities and those who sympathize with minority groups agree that racial profiling is a largely ineffective practice that violates the civil liberties bestowed upon U.S. citizens by the fourth and fourteenth amendments. Case in point, in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Prof. Rudovsky wrote that, ”… presidential candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore both agreed that the practice should be abandoned, and up to 80% of the public found [racial profiling] to be unfair.” due to the discriminatory nature of racial profiling, many find the practice immoral and partial towards the affected minorities.”(Penn Law Review.) Other citizens believe that racial profiling is a necessary evil needed to combat criminal activity. For instance, Prof. Davis at the American University Washington College of Law states that “Since September 11th, some Americans defend the racial profiling of Arab-Americans, and describe the practice as a small price and a mere inconvenience to assure safety. ” People who share this perspective, often have not felt the effects of racial profiling or paused to examine how it affects those targeted. Thus it can be said that of the many different perspectives regarding racial profiling the most prominent and heavily supported are whether or not racial profiling should be tolerated.
Racial profiling and the “War on Terrorism”
The “War on Terrorism” has prompted several egregious self-defensive responses in retaliation the terroristic attacks of September 11th. In War on Terrorism: Behind the Terror, John Hamilton defines terrorism as “the deliberate creation of fear in order to change a government or its policies.” On the morning of September 11th, 2001, a group of nineteen men affiliated with Al-Qaeda, a Muslim extremist group, hijacked four Boeing 767 aircraft and used them as missiles to target American government and business structures, resulting in a reported 2,996 casualties. Shortly after, President Bush issued a “War on Terrorism,” and began mobilizing troops to confront Al-Qaeda at their base in Afghanistan. Before deploying troops in President Bush was given the warning, “Before you invade Iraq there is one Usama bin Laden after you invade there will be hundreds,” by Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak. Meaning that if he went and provoked a passive country, he could turn its inhabitants against America forever. In addition to the deployment of soldiers to apprehend members of Al-Qaeda, the U.S. government passed the Patriot Act which essentially allows the government access to personal information, in hopes of being able to prevent future acts of terror; Unfortunately, this act also enabled law enforcement agencies to profile Muslim and Arab-Americans, which led Prof. Abu B. Bah to refer to it as a “state-sponsored crackdown on Arabs and Muslims, intended to protect the United States against terrorism.” (Bah, 77.) To conclude, the “War on Terrorism” was the United States’ last moral straw in its conflict with racial profiling, and has shifted the focus of racial profiling unto a new set of victims the Arab/Muslim American Communities.
In summation, racial profiling has dealt minority groups a cruel injustice that after being coupled with the mixed feelings of grief, anger, and insecurity felt by Americans after the terrorist attacks of September 11th gave the final push necessary to drive Americans to take drastic counterterrorism measures. The terrorist attacks of September 11th have clouded the citizens and state officials into justifying a detrimental and ineffectual method of national security. The profiling of suspects in criminal cases by their race, religion, or national origin is an urgent problem that has to be dealt with. In order for our country to come together and resolve the “race” obstacle ingrained in the foundations of our nation, Americans have to realize that racial profiling is an immoral practice that strips victims of their human rights and starts making amends.