Those of you who have been around here at America’s Right for a while, long before even last year’s redesign nonetheless this one, know that I used to be an uninformed liberal Democrat. My awakening happened during the course of a single afternoon back in 2001 when I purchased and read, cover to cover, Bernie Goldberg’s fantastically phenomenal powerhouse of a book, Bias. (I’ve since purchased and handed out at least a half-dozen copies.)
A few minutes ago, Goldberg published a column at his own eponymous Web site, bernardgoldberg.com, dealing with the power and perceived pitfalls of profiling as it pertains to air travel and security. The commentary is titled And What Exactly Is Wrong With Profiling? and, like with most of everything Bernie Goldberg writes, it is absolutely correct.
When I got to the gate, after going through security like everybody else, I was pulled aside for a second security check, this time by El Al. And this time they went through my luggage before they let me on the plane.
Did I like it at the time? Not especially. Did I feel safer flying on El Al to a part of the world where bad things happen way too often rather than on some other airline? Definitely.
Call it anything you want, but there’s no way around the fact that I was profiled. Israelis, who know a little bit about terrorism, don’t cringe when it comes to profiling. Let’s just say no one will confuse Israeli security agents with the ACLU.
But why me? I was different. Almost everyone on the flight was an Israeli. I was an American. Almost everybody on the flight was going home. I was merely changing planes in Tel Aviv, en route to Amman, Jordan.
That the standard response from our federal government is to inconvenience 300 million American travelers in an attempt to prevent a few dozen foreign terrorists from lighting their dangly bits on fire does not show thoroughness or preparedness as folks like DHS Director Janet Napolitano might maintain, but rather is the hallmark of a bureaucracy and system lacking focus and rank with ineffectiveness.
As I said yesterday in The System Worked? Wrong. The Bomb Didn’t., we are not only inconveniencing hundreds of millions of travelers but also continue to be one step behind the terrorists who want to kill us, and we will stay that way until we stop dancing this terrorist two-step and start going toe-to-toe with these people. As I pointed out yesterday, Richard Reid tried to blow up his shoes so we take off our shoes now, bombers planned to bring down airliners with liquid explosives so we pack tiny bottles of shampoo now, and Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab tried to blow up his scrotum from underneath a blanket so we have to keep our laps clear now — what happens when, as I put it yesterday, the next batch of terrorists decide to Barney Frank the explosive material du jour? Regardless of whether the airports will be the only place where pre-retirement-age men can receive prostate exams after ObamaCare comes into effect, we can’t keep on doing this. Like so much else our federal government does, it’s unsustainable.
So the answer is profiling. Is it inconvenient for those profiled? Sure. Does it run afoul of the tenets of political correctness? You bet. But there has been a common thread–radical Islam–running through the terrorists, failed and successful, in recent years, and we should be using that common thread to focus our preventative efforts on those who wish to do us harm.
Such a lack of focus, fostered and facilitated by political correctness run wild, is what gave us Nidal Malik Hasan and dead soldiers at Fort Hood. And it could have cost lives here as well. Certainly, if the attack on the USS Cole or the World Trade Center or the Pentagon or the rail systems in London and Madrid or the nightclub in Bali or in any other place were carried out by anybody but radical Muslims, we should look at other parties, we should look for other faces and features when weighing threats against our own. Right now, however, just as there’s no sense looking for a red Corvette convertible if an Amber Alert describes a green and brown Winnebago, there’s no sense wasting time, resources and credibility capital frisking nuns and red-headed children and walker-bound septuagenarians while single Yemeni Muslims who paid for their one-way tickets in cash stand just ahead in line at the gate.
Bernie puts it significantly better (but that’s why he gets the big bucks):
So what’s the solution? No system is 100 percent foolproof. Granted. But profiling is a good place to start. And not just profiling anyone who seems especially nervous and is acting a little too fidgety. We need to do that, for sure. But we also need profiling – I pause here so that any liberal with a heart condition can get his medicine before continuing – we need profiling … based …on …what …you …look like. Young men traveling with passports issued, for example, in Nigeria, Yemen, or anyplace in the Arab world, should get special attention. They should be profiled! A 23-year old man from Beirut is not the same as a 78-year old woman from Peoria. They do not pose the same potential threat to our safety. That strikes me as beyond obvious. Besides, if liberals are willing to turn our economy upside down on the chance –no matter how slight – that global warming may harm us in a hundred years or so, they ought to be willing to profile potential terrorists who might to try to blow up an airplane in an hour or so – no matter how slight that chance.
But liberals will say, “What happens when the terrorists recruit a blond, blue-eyed Swedish woman to carry the bomb? What good will your profiling do then?” Good question. When that happens, we should start profiling Swedish women, too.
But for now, we can be assured of just one thing: if you thought going through security at the airport was a great big pain in the ass before the “underwear bomber” surfaced, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
And if I’m correct about the next batch of wanna-be terrorists stashing the PETN where the Islamic crescent don’t shine, that last sentence will definitely ring true.