PROFILING: A SURVIVAL INSTINCT
Profiling is not a politically correct law enforcement policy in today’s world. Most liberals and even George W. Bush, a Republican president, spoke against profiling as part of a counter-terrorism program. Profiling doesn’t need to be defined. Everyone knows exactly what it is because everyone does it.
The act of profiling is as old as the beginning of life. Isn’t profiling simply looking for indicators of a danger to survival? Like any other activity, profiling can be misused. But when used properly it can save lives and diminish day-to-day threats.
People who live and work in active war zones quickly sharpen up their profiling skills. In Danang, Vietnam, in 1968 one of the best Viet Cong assassins was a young boy, probably not yet in his teens. His modus operandi was to carry a pistol in a paper bag and on a crowded street walk casually up to his selected target and shoot through the paper bag from inside three feet. How long do you think it took for those of us walking in the markets of Danang to profile any young boy carrying a paper bag? Not long. It wasn’t because we were discriminating against young boy or paper bags. It was the awakening of an old survival instinct. All living creatures have the ability to recognize dangers to their survival. Ask anyone who has ever hunted crows. They will tell you that the crows can recognize if you are carrying anything looking like a rifle or shotgun. The crows profile hunters.
In the world of counter-terrorism, all Arab Muslims are not terrorists but most terrorists are Arabs and Muslims. It is insane for law enforcement officers to not give special scrutiny to Arab-looking men and women traveling by air. How many elderly non-Arabs have been pulled out of line for extra scrutiny just to show no one is being profiled? If you resemble a rational threat description, you should be profiled. Not many blue-haired grandmothers have been terrorists.
Profiling has been attacked by people perpetuating racism. Black male teenagers have reported they hear car door locks clicking when they cross streets. Our president has said he has heard the doors locking when he was a young man crossing streets. Of course, and it is not because they are black or young. It’s because nearly all urban street crime is by young black males. Most of it black on black violence. You have to be nearly mindless if you do not profile a group of young black men approaching. Remember the wave of people injured in the “knockout game” on urban streets. Weren’t all the victims white and the attackers black?
Profiling can be abused and profiling policies need to be routinely reviewed. Profiling is a natural instinct. Don’t confuse it with racism.