Friday, December 23, 2011

Spencer's simple-minded prescription for airport profiling

Robert Spencer
writes (for the second time in recent memory):

... the whole TSA security apparatus exists because of Islamic jihad terrorists, and yet, as I have pointed out many times, it will never be adequate to stop those jihadists. The TSA is always prohibiting or restricting or searching things pertaining to the method of the previous jihad attack attempt -- shoes, liquids, etc. -- but they have no way to anticipate or head off the method of the next attack. And they waste huge amounts of time, money, and resources by pretending that everyone is an equal threat to launch a terror attack -- Baptist grandmothers in wheelchairs just as much as young Pakistani Muslim males. And now, seizing terrorist cupcakes.

This part is fine. It's where Spencer goes from here that is the problem:

The only answer at this point, and even it is not perfect, would be to institute Israeli-style profiling of air passengers. The Israelis have run an efficient and terror-attack-free air service for years, without all these invasive security measures.

Two problems here:

1) Israel, being a tiny postage-stamp-sized country with a minuscule fraction of the air traffic the sprawling gigantic U.S.A. has to deal with, has the luxury of being capable of controlling its airports more effectively.

2) And because of #1, Israel can control its airports with less overtly discriminatory profiling.


Because of the size and complexity of a country like the U.S.A. we would be forced to institute a kind of profiling that even Spencer would disapprove of -- i.e., as I have called for before, simply not allowing Muslims to fly on planes at all, and identifying Muslims in part by whether they
look like Muslims.

And, of course, this applies to all social venues; not merely airports.

Further reading:

(As the reader will note on sampling some of these further links below, Spencer has, characteristically, waffled and weaseled on this issue of profiling before, leaving a mess of incoherent logic behind to be cleaned up.)


Racial Islamic Profiling

Muslim Profiling Revisited

Muslim Profiling Revisited Part Two

A note on the need for racial profiling

Muslim Profiling in a Nutshell

Muslim Profiling in a Peanut Shell

Racial Profiling and the Problem of Islam

Racial Profiling and the Problem of Islam -- Part Two


Nobody said...

I'm going to disagree here, not so much b'cos of the argument used, but b'cos Israel does do profiling a lot smarter.

Yeah, the Israelis don't test old women on wheelchairs nor the innards of children's dolls, but the profiling they do is not purely 'racial' profiling either. First of all, the Israelis, unlike the Americans, recognize differences b/w Palestinians, Egyptians, Moroccans and others based not just on their looks, but their accents and other ethnic traits. Since they use a number of parameters aside from how a person looks, they do a far better job of weeding out would be jihadis from the rest of the crowd. There is no way Israeli profilers would interview someone from Ethiopia and think he's from Somalia. Part of the reason is that Israeli interrogators are good in Arabic to the point that they'd recognize from someone's speech which Arab country he's from - something not common in other Western countries. Once they've done that filtering, which gets rid of 90% of the subjects, it gives them enough time & resources to focus on the remaining 10%

American profilers otoh wouldn't be above looking @ someone from Italy or Spain, and thinking that that person is from the Middle East. That is a part of what lands them in trouble, since non-Arabs have problems being mistaken for Arabs.

Race being a factor in profiling is fine, but when profilers are unable to quickly eliminate a large section of the target population, as the Israelis do, that's what lands them in trouble from a PR standpoint - even w/o even beginning to deal w/ the PCMC ramifications that they'd have to come up against.

Hesperado said...


I agree that the Israelis have a better profiling system. But becuase Israel is so much smaller and less complex, its system cannot be translated to gigantic, sprawling, complex societies like nearly the entire rest of the West (with the exception perhaps of similarly postage-sized polities like Switzerland).

Gigantic, sprawling, complex societies -- if they want to protect their people optimally from Muslims -- will simply have to institute ruthless seemingly sloppier profiling measures that will necessarily involve a lot of "collateral damage" of various types.

Sagunto said...

Problem facing progressivists of all stripes: defeating Islam progressive-style involves (near) police-state measures. Like veritable Boromirs they'll try to use state power to "do good". Well, perhaps its no problem at all for some CJ's or AIM'ers, since perhaps they actually love an ever more emboldened and empowered welfare state.


Hesperado said...


With regard to the problem of Islam, there will be no need for a police state, once we deconstruct PC MC -- since we will then discriminate solely against Muslims, and institute measures solely against Muslims (with, of course, a bit of collateral damage, but hardly on a scale that could be characterized as involving a "police state").

Sagunto said...

Hi Hesp -

Sweet dreams Mr Progressive ;)