I recently provided an analysis of the problem of Muslim profiling in a ‘nutshell’. Here is an even pithier and more concrete focus on the same topic, in a ‘peanut shell’:
My position is that racial/ethnic markers would have to be integrated to some degree into any rational profiling system; while one would try to minimize their influence, one would never be able to eliminate them. And secondly, this (as well as other features of any rational profiling system) will inevitably incur “collateral damages”—many non-Muslims who are non-white non-Westerners will be inconvenienced. Until we accept these unavoidable necessities, we will be erring on the side of unduly endangering our lives.
A name-checking technique—whereby people would be identified as Muslims by their legal names gleaned through their identification papers—would work best in an airport situation, and within that situation, only in terms of the already normal process by which people are funnelled onto the airplanes. And since an airplane in flight is (and probably will remain) the most common target for terrorist activity, this would be a good technique (though it would still have a few holes).
With other kinds of public spaces—such as the airport itself, or the planes in hangars or on the tarmac, or city centers, or shopping malls, or political rallies, or infrastructure utility structures situated amid population centers, etc.—a Muslim profiling system would have to rely more heavily on the racial/ethnic factors simply because it would be much more difficult to properly and in an orderly fashion filter out the actual Muslims from those who could be Muslims because they happen to look like Muslims.
Also, as the future unfolds, one could well encounter scenarios such as the following:
A policeman sees a couple, man and woman, who look “ethnic” and seem Middle Eastern and they are oddly spending too much time looking at and photographing certain angles of a bridge or a major power station located near a public park. So the policeman goes over and questions them. He asks them to produce identification papers. Their papers indicate that they are not, in fact, Muslims. Now, what can one policeman do to verify the authenticity of these papers? I think, in a situation like this, that policeman should have the authority to detain that couple and either bring them in to the police station or get on his police radio to get someone to research and verify that couple’s status. After their status has been verified as non-Muslim, they will be released. But then, our Western police forces (all the way down to local levels) would have to have the ability to verify identification, a central information system. Getting that organized and implemented would be very complex and difficult—processing hundreds of millions of people, many millions of them in flux (including immigration, etc.)—, and would, of course, have to first cross the enormous hurdles that are firmly in place as part of our dominant PC Multiculturalism.
Absent a sufficiently reliable central information system as conjectured above, I would support giving such a policeman the authority to detain such people even if their identification papers indicated they were non-Muslim. Their authentic status, absent such a system, would simply take a much longer time to determine, and would therefore cause more inconvenience to the detainees. Such detainees—many of whom, of course, would turn out to be non-Muslims—will just have to suck it up and suffer the “collateral damage” of certain inconveniences, for the sake of our general safety.