Joe Soucheray calls for racial and religious profiling
Local grouch Joe Soucheray has endorsed racial and religious profiling in a meandering piece posted to the Pioneer Press's website today.
He admits profiling everyone he meets in his daily life, justifying this bigotry by calling it a "natural human instinct." Come on, Joe. It's true everyone has prejudices. But most of us here in the 21st century try to counteract those prejudices and become more accepting of differences.
But apparently in garage logic, being a "natural human instinct" makes any sort of reprehensible action totally acceptable - I can only assume that this includes the natural human instincts to covet thy neighbor's ass and sleep with thy neighbor's wife.
The profiling argument is an old, tired, and offensive one: Many of the airplane-based terrorist attempts since 9/11 have been perpetrated by Muslim extremists, so we're justified being more suspicious of Muslim passengers.
Soucheray says that since TSA security standards have failed to prevent dangerous items from making it onto planes, passengers ought to carefully monitor their Muslim cabin-mates and be ready to jump into action "in the event he tried to light his shoes on fire or his underpants." He cites a personal anecdote as a model:
There were Muslims on our flight, one of whom knelt on his prayer rug in the waiting area before boarding the flight. It might have been untoward and insensitive, but a couple of guys took turns standing -- literally standing at this guy's seat -- the entire flight. They read magazines and sipped soft drinks, but they never moved from the guy's seat until the last moment when they had to sit down for landing. Other passengers acknowledged the watchers with a nod, and the watching continued.
I can only wonder why, after the Oklahoma City bombing, Soucheray didn't suggest visitors to federal buildings stalk and observe any white people, even if it made them feel harassed and uncomfortable? Or maybe after the Unibomber incidents, the Post Office ought to have more carefully scrutinized packages sent by white people, even if it meant increased delays?
Ethics aside, institutionalized profiling fails because real attackers are so rare: Active failures will be much more common than passive failures. The great majority of people who fit the profile will be innocent. At the same time, some real attackers are going to deliberately try to sneak past the profile. During World War II, a Japanese American saboteur could try to evade imprisonment by pretending to be Chinese. Similarly, an Arab terrorist could dye his hair blond, practice an American accent, and so on.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.