Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Racial Profiling and the Problem of Islam

Some basics before we get to the meat of the problem:

Profiling is a common technique used by law enforcement. It helps law enforcement when they try to

a) find an unknown criminal who has been committing crimes,


b) find and/or prevent unknown criminals who are likely to commit crimes in the near future.

Profiling in this general sense relies heavily on external data: physical appearance, clothing, behaviors, social habits, and, finally, cultural and subcultural factors that might be expressed in any or all of the aforementioned external data.

Now, we begin to get into the meat:

1) Race usually manifests itself in external data—most notably, in physical appearance: skin color, hair color, physiognomic features, etc. An adjunct to this primary fact is the parallel fact that certain behaviors by which a given race might tend to manifest itself are often inextricably intermingled with culture or subculture. (The complications to this parallel fact, however, may sometimes be too subtle and elusive to be of much practical value in profiling, and a casuistic methodology will end up excluding this as a factor more often than not.)

1b) Modern Western societies do not officially practice racial profiling in law enforcement. They furthermore have been trying to avoid, eschew or even eliminate what they suspect are significant habits of unofficial racial profiling on the part of individual law enforcement personnel (usually, but not always, white). Insofar as many law enforcement personnel believe, based on their daily personal experience as well as the statistics, that most violent crimes are committed by blacks, Hispanics, and certain Asians (in descending order of degree), they often come to the logical conclusion that the sheer data on the street lead them to racially profile. At the very least, when law enforcement personnel in, for example, large cities in the U.S.A., simply do their job in a strictly color-blind fashion during the course of any given week, the results of their activity will reflect a disproportionate degree of blacks, Hispanics and Asians targeted for good reason, compared with whites. Sometimes this logical conclusion leads further to ‘preventive measures’, where the law enforcement personnel figure that they might as well stop that car full of young black men because chances are, they will find evidence of criminal activity there. Such preventive measures are not always reprehensible, but are in certain instances sensible. Again, one must approach this casuistically, and not impose an abstract template that would stamp out all concrete nuances—a tactic favored by the obsessive-compulsive and purist PC multiculturalist.

2) Two elemental facts about worldwide Islam with regard to race:

a) The vast majority of Muslims are non-white (Arabs, Berber, black African, Turkic, central Asiatic, Asian, southeast Asian).

b) The vast majority of whites are non-Muslims.

With these two elemental facts about the sociological complexion of Islam, it would be irrational to exclude racial data from any profiling methodology that might in the future be constructed by which to deal with the problem of Islamic terrorism. (Certain significant sectors of the central Asiatic Muslim populations are in many respects identifiable as ‘white’, though even there a rational profiling could employ a ‘granularization’ technique whereby finer distinctions are sifted out: in this case, specifically, a central Asiatic Muslim will tend to look more like Yul Brynner or Theodore Bikel than he will look like Robert Redford or Carrot Top.)

3) Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch has repeatedly made parenthetical comments that imply, or come close to declaring, that from this obvious fact, that—

a) Islam is not a race, it is an ideology—

one must therefore apparently conclude that

b) race should not be a factor in our self-defensive tactics and strategies against Islamic Jihadists.

The problem with this conclusion—a conclusion that seems to be shared by many or most of the people who participate in the comments section of Jihad Watch—is that, because, to repeat ourselves, the vast majority of the world’s Muslims are non-white and the vast majority of the world’s whites are non-Muslims, the elimination or proscription of the vast amount of racial data that is one pertinent (but not perfect) factor among others in identifying Muslims would impair any attempts at profiling Muslims.

Now, of course, if law enforcement screeners could figure out a foolproof way of always, at all times, discerning who is a Muslim and who is not a Muslim, then they wouldn’t need to integrate racial indicators into their profiling methodology—since the premise that leads to Robert Spencer’s faulty conclusion (i.e., the premise that Islam is an ideology, not a race) is a sound premise taken by itself.

Would that such a simple solution were possible! But three factors tend to throw a significant monkey wrench into this simplistic solution:

a) Most locations where profiling is necessary (airports, train depots, shipping ports, shopping malls, hotel complexes, city centers in general, etc.) are places of complex and dynamic movements of large amounts of people: unless we could implement a program whereby all citizens and all visiting and transient non-citizens have a visible label or marker on their person, there is no way we can always tell who is a Muslim and who is not a Muslim (even if sometimes the distinctive clothing of Muslims can help us in this regard). The modest and reasonable suggestion to have all passports denote ‘Muslim/non-Muslim’ is of course a no-brainer, and should be part of our profiling methodology: but to think that this procedure alone would solve our profiling problem is simple-minded and ignores complexities:

i) there are many situations and contexts in locations where profiling is necessary where passports are not relevant, and so potential terrorists could easily get through the cracks of such a procedure

ii) potential terrorists could lie about their Muslim identity, and/or forge passports

iii) if you think that profiling Muslims in general is a nearly impossible policy to implement given our PC multiculturalist attitudes and laws, then having the policy of identifying ‘Muslim/non-Muslim’ on passports would be an even less realizable option.

iv) such a procedure would necessitate the cooperation of all nations, many of which are Muslim and already highly hostile to any measures to integrate Islam as a factor in any way in our prevention of terrorism, and many of the non-Muslim nations are anti-American (and/or anti-Western) and would resist cooperation.

b) Potential Muslim terrorists will lie about being Muslim—certainly they will begin to do this after Infidels implement any kind of policy that would base profiling on Muslim identity.

c) Worst of all for those who try to steer a righteous course above the fray of racism—“Islam is not a race, it is an ideology”—even if any methodology that would only strictly profile Muslims qua their Muslim (i.e., ideological, not racial) identity were feasible and effective, and even if we could profile only on the basis of the ideology of Islam, it would still have the effect of appearing to be “racist” for the simple and obvious fact that most of the world’s Muslims are non-white. I.e., most of those that would be targeted by profiling (stopped, checked, searched, detained, questioned, inconvenienced, etc.)—probably over 90%—will be non-whites (and mostly non-Western) even if our profiling methodology only screened for the ideology of Islam and completely ignored all ethnic and racial factors.

The bottom line is that any procedures to limit profiling on the basis only of the ideology of Islam and excluding all factors of race would be insufficient for our profiling needs. Of course, we should in our profiling methodology integrate any and all procedures that would target the ideology of Islam, but we should not do this to the exclusion of racial factors—it is only rational to employ both types of procedure, and not exclude either one.

4) There is a reason why Islam has a mostly non-white population world-wide: its military imperialism, led by non-white Arab agents beginning in the 7th century A.D. and continuing for centuries after that, spread mostly over lands populated by non-whites, from Morocco on the Atlantic all the way to the Philippines in the Pacific, most of whose survivors (who were not slaughtered by the Muslim armies) opted eventually to convert rather than live under the onus of dhimmitude, indentured servitude, or outright slavery (not to mention the constant threat of violence from Muslims, either officially or unofficially, which would be significantly reduced if not eliminated upon conversion to Islam). In more recent history, Islam to some degree attracts non-whites who nurse hatred of the white West for grievances stemming from Western Colonialism and its after-effects. Furthermore, although Islam attempted many times, and for centuries, to conquer Europe, it never succeeded, and by the time America became established, Islam had become rather hemmed in to hunker down in its vast non-white ghetto stretching from Morroco to the Philippines.

To be continued in Part Two...

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