Friday, January 02, 2009

Racial Islamic Profiling: Photo Gallery


The rationale for the cogency and exigency of racial profiling as one tool in our self-defense against Islamic Jihad has been argued here before in the following essays:

White Muslims: Honorary Browns (in three parts: see particularly the comments to Part 3, where I articulate in greater detail in response to a critic the rationale behind racial profiling of Muslims)

There is, on some levels, considerable overlap and repetition distributed among these several essays. Certain elementary points have been reiterated in different ways, but to my knowledge have never been effectively refuted. At the same time, I have noticed on the part of critics a curious obstinacy based upon a stubborn denial of those points, in all cases but one in my experience without backing that denial up with even an attempt at an argument, let alone evidentiary refutation.

The one exception is documented (as noted above) in Part 3 of the essay White Muslims: Honorary Browns. The overarching flaw of that critic turned out to be amusingly amazing, because astonishingly self-contradictory: He chided me for my apparent inability to appreciate the physiognomically determinable distinctions by which one could visibly spot the difference between a Cypriot and a Greek, while at the same time he quibbled indignantly over my central thesis on the need for our security personnel throughout the West to implement discrimination of Muslims based on physiognomic criteria founded in the facts of demographic preponderances in Muslim populations worldwide (a preponderance that seems closelyif not fairly exactlyparalleled in the subpopulation of Muslim terrorists, both actual and potential). The problem with this critics odd paradox is self-evident: If according to him we can (with sufficient training and/or expertise) viably spot the difference between two populations to the normal untrained eye as exceedingly similar in appearance as Cypriot and Greek, then surelyhis indignantly ethical protestations notwithstandingit would be not appreciably more difficult (and therefore not impossible nor impracticable) to tell the difference between, sayto pick one example out of dozens from a fezan Italian and a Moroccan.  (For a more detailed analysis of my responses to this critic, see this two-part essay.)


My inclination has always been to be prepared to accept the collateral damage of an Italian being mistaken for a Moroccanon the premise, of course, that we would be aggressively pursuing a methodology that targets the Moroccan in the first place (because, obviously, he is more likely to be a Muslim); but also based on the apparently unavoidable limitation imposed upon us by our insufficient ability to perfectly, at all times, distinguish the Italian from the Moroccan. But if, according to my critic, it is possible to spot such fine distinctions (and what could be finer than the distinctions that distinguish the Cypriot from the Greek!), then perhaps it would be possible to train our security personnel to do sonot to achieve a perfect color-blindscreening process, but only, realistically, in order to minimize, at least, the inevitable collateral damage. The practical efficacy of this, of course, would have to be rigorously tested before being applied willy-nilly, or in the vain conviction that, being more ethical (because less racist), it is also ipso facto the more pragmatic (a curious linkage that seems to predominate in the more Leftish brain). We would have to be prepared as a society for the likelihood that only a relatively few of our security personnel in all the public (and less public high-security) areas throughout the Westincluding airports, bus stations, train stations, shopping centers, synagogues, etc.would be sufficiently talented and/or trained to spot such fine distinctions, and that therefore, for the purposes of our general safety, our screening process would perforce err on the side of incurring collateral damage.

In the above-linked essays, I have also taken to task the oft-repeated mantra of the still incoherent Anti-Islam MovementIslam is not a racea mantra that is waved around like a magic wand every time Muslims feigning aggrievement complain of racism whenever their Islamic behavior, or their Islamic religion, is being criticized. The problem with that mantra is that it ignores a massive and complex phenomenon, as well as one monumental, plain fact: The phenomenon is the mainstream dominance of PC MC throughout the West and its central twin axiom of irrational elevation of non-white non-Westerners coupled with irrational denigration of the white West. The plain fact is the demographic complexion of global Islam, which is overwhelmingly non-white and non-Western. The mere truism that Islam is not a racebecause, of course, it embraces any and all races within the membership of its totalitarian army (notwithstanding that Muslims indulge in far more racism than the white West does)is largely irrelevant to the plain fact just noted since, as it has worked out historically right into our own present (due in large part to how and geographically where Islam spread), the demographic complexion of Islam is not evenly distributed among the races of the world, but has a remarkable dearth of whites compared with non-whites (and closely related to that, a dearth of Westerners compared with non-Westerners).

I was provisionally heartened, therefore, to notice that three recent postings on Jihad Watch (one of the major sources of harping on the mantra) concerning a recent profiling incident on an American airline (AirTran Airways) made no mention of the mantra, and even implied the cogency and exigency of racial profiling. This time, three Jihad Watch luminaries weighed in: Spencer, Ibrahim, and Fitzgeraldand all three kept their flaws with respect to this particular issue to a bearable minimum (with only the last of the three tending to beg the question when he argued for the cogency and exigency of the concern on the part of non-Muslims for easily identifiable Muslimsleaving unanswered the more important problem of the less easily identifiable Muslims, which begins to verge on the hairy difficulty, and inevitability, of collateral damage). Spencer and Ibrahim, more pertinently, strongly implied the unavoidable necessity of collateral damageraising the issue of their own personal experience at having been collateral damage themselves at airports, because of their appearance (though Spencer with his black beard to my untrained eye looks more like a Jewish accountant than an Arab or Turk). At any rate, whether this augurs more rationality on this issue from within the Anti-Islam Movement, or whether it represents merely the odd appearance of one horn of a characteristically incoherent paradox typical of Jihad Watch analysis, only time will tell.

Photo Gallery:

To view the photo gallery, click this link. (I did not want to encumber this site with the 30 photographs chosen, some of them quite large.)

The photo gallery is not presented as infallible proof of my thesis, only as an indicative illustration of its cogency. Definitive proof defending the cogency and exigency of racial profiling to help protect us from Islamic terrorism is probably impossible. When dangers are as broad-based, complex, unpredictable and uniquely fanatical as the danger of Islamic terrorism, and when the phenomenon is itself complex, amorphous and resistant to scientific perfectionas racial physiognomy isthen measures of self-defense in which such a phenomenon factors in will likely involve collateral damage of one sort or another, and will be unable to avoid various imperfections.

The photo gallery has been taken from photos of Muslim terror suspects and/or fanatics of various flavors, chosen from a breezy browsing of the archives at Jihad Watch spanning the current month as well as December and November of 2008.

The faces represented in this rogues gallery run the gamut from actual terrorists, to various categories of enablers and/or fanatics who could easily become direct supporters of terrorism or even terrorists themselves.

I have deliberately left the photos unmarked and the faces unidentified, since one major point of racial profiling is precisely the setting up of a primary firewall to filter out suspects about whom one does not have sufficient knowledge of their connection to terrorism. If we had sufficient knowledge about all the individuals pullulating in and out of a complex, nearly chaotic public space like an airport or a shopping mall, we wouldnt need to engage in profiling at all, much less racial profiling. The more democratic a society is, the less able is its government to keep totalitarian tabs on everybody under its rule. The porousness and relative freedom of anonymitycoupled with the complex dynamism of public centersmakes it imperative that we profile and that our profiling be comprehensively prejudicial enough to err on the side of protecting the public, which will likely entail collateral damage of one sort or another.

Look at the faces of this photo gallery and tell me that we should be giving equal attention, in our profiling at public places and sensitive security locations, to white people. To my untrained eye (I certainly am not as experienced and talented as the above-mentioned commenter who claims he can spot the difference between Cypriots and Greeks who live in Cyprus), some of them could very well be, for example, Italians or Spaniards or Greeks. The better trained our security personnel can be, the better we can minimize collateral damage. We should not, however, delude ourselves into thinking that we can avoid collateral damage altogether, or even minimize it to a satisfactory degree. In fact, we have to wrap our collective, societal heads around the likelihood that the profiling necessary for our self-defense from Islamic terrorism will entail degrees of collateral damage that will seem to be too much. What defines too much, of course, is to an extent subjective and relative. Our current PC MC paradigm, which is dominant throughout the West, would define too much in a reckless and perilous manner. We need to err on the side of actually pursuing excessive collateral damagethat is to say, of proceeding with being ruthlessly concerned about our self-defense, even if it results in profiling that seems excessively prone to collateral damage.

Specific commentary about the photos:

I will here only comment specifically about one photo in the gallerythe very first one. It is a poster of the six Muslims who plotted to kill American soldiers at Fort Dix in New Jersey (and also had ambitions to kill more Americansciviliansin various unknown places). Yes, three of these six Islamic terrorists look white (because they are Bosnians and likely have racial background reflecting non-Arabic, non-Turkish Slavic, if not also southern European, ancestry). But the ratio out there in the real world of Islamic terrorists (both guilty and suspected) is, unlike this poster of six faces, nowhere close to being 50/50. It is more like 98/2. Our profiling methodologies therefore should reflect that, obviously. (It amazes and amuses me how persistently otherwise intelligent people, even from within the anti-Islam movement, think that a 98/2 ratio (or even, to be exceedingly generous, a 70/30 ratio) should be handled like a 50/50 ratio.)


Nobody said...

Erich: Yes, three of these six Islamic terrorists look white (because they are Bosnians and likely have racial background reflecting non-Arabic, non-Turkish Slavic, if not also southern European, ancestry).

Bosnians? They are Kosovo Albanians! What's wrong with you - can't tell the difference between Albanians and Bosnians? Next, you will be mistaking Canadians for Americans, Kiwis for Aussies, Ukrainians for Russians, Portugese for Spaniards, Hondurans for Mexicans, and what have you! How can you ever profile, if you can't tell such basic differences?

Nobody said...

BTW, Happy New Year!

Erich said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Erich said...

Thanks, Nobody -- Happy New Year to you too!

Your comment, though tongue in cheek, reminds me of another facet of the issue which I didn't make explicit (though I alluded to it by speaking of targeting Moroccans because Morocco is a Muslim country). Certain regions or countries, like Kosovo or Albania, should be considered suspect such that any and all individuals who hail from them should be under higher suspicion (and therefore profiled) than others, like say, Slovakia or Sweden. Thus, if it is possible to tell a white Albanian apart from a white Slovakian, then the white Albanian should be automatically considered to be in a more suspicious category; etc. To the degree that we cannot make these fine distinctions, however, (and it is safe to say that most of the thousands -- if not hundreds of thousands -- of security personnel we need throughout the West will not be able to make such fine distinctions), we are forced to fall back on a profiling that will be even sloppier with regard to collateral damage -- but not so sloppy that we search 80-year-old blue-haired nuns, of course: only "sloppy" with regard to being prejudicially sweeping about people we deem to "look Muslim".

Mr. X said...

I see you're using our debate as an example of your "victory" over a critic. Too bad the only way you can do that is by misrepresenting my position and contradicting your own.

Both Muslims and non-Muslims come in shades ranging from pale white to pitch black, and they belong to all three of the major races of mankind and every possible mixture thereof. That renders any system of profiling based on color and/or race unreliable at best and totally useless at worst. Dividing the world as you have into Muslim "Browns" and non-Muslim "Whites" (whom you seem to think are best represented by orange-haired outliers like Carrot Top) is simplistic beyond belief and not at all conducive to teaching people how to make "fine distinctions" between different ethnic groups. It's a child's way of looking at the world.

You're also naive in thinking that the only "collateral damage" would be an occasional European mistaken for Middle Eastern. No one in your Photo Gallery looks like any kind of European except the actual Europeans from Bosnia (either train that damn eye of yours or poke it out). The reality is that vaguely "brown" people in the United States are most likely to be Latin American. Middle Eastern and South Asian come in a distant second. And even then, they're just as likely to be Christian, Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist as they are to be Muslim. So what good is a profiling system whose collateral damage far exceeds its positive identifications? It's just as inefficient as the "color-blind" screening process.

The poor understanding you have of these issues is emblematic of the general ignorance you displayed in our discussion. You proved to lack knowledge about the science of race and pigmentation, about the histories of Greece and Cyprus, about the ancestry of Cat Stevens, and even about his appearance -- before his "transformation" he could've been one of the Beatles:

Yet you purport to speak with authority about all of these things, when in fact you invariably have no idea what you're talking about.

Hesperado said...

I only noticed this comment by Mr. X long after I had posted my essay. I believe it became the nucleus of a three-part analysis with "Mr. X" in the title, which I will insert now as an Update in my essay above.

For now, I will only note that Mr. X's retort ignores two huge factors: 1) the imperfection of any profiling methodology (he seems to think that any methodology that is not perfect is therefore unfit to be applied; I hope he doesn't practice this in his daily life); and 2) he continues to ignore the paradox he himself generated, in his previous insistence that he is able to tell the exceedingly fine, granular distinction between a Cypriot and a Greek on Cyprus -- coupled with his insistence that we cannot have any profiling based on our ability to make distinctions certainly less fine than that one.

This intelligent irrationality manifested by people like Mr. X is one reason why the West continues to be myopic to the problem of Islam.

Traeh said...

There would be a significant downside to your racial profiling approach. It would create among non-Muslim non-lily white people, not to mention many white people, tremendous hostility to the anti-Islam movement. These new and newly energized opponents would band together with Muslims and organize politically to oppose racial profiling and would also often oppose anything else associated with the anti-Islam movement. The problem with your approach is that it will tremendously increase the number of enemies to the anti-Islam movement, turning the latter into a racial polarization movement. Not only that, but other religions besides Islam that have mostly non-lily-white peoples will become less friendly and more hostile to the anti-Islam movement as well.

From that point of view, Spencer is right -- race should be kept out of it, since the problem is not additional melanin, it's the choice of an ideology.