53 of 100 DOCUMENTS

	The Boston Herald

	November 7, 2001 Wednesday ALL EDITIONS

	Op-Ed; Profiling terrorists not the answer

	BYLINE: By Deborah RAMIREZ and Jack LEVIN


	LENGTH: 858 words

	Prior to the attack on America, racial profiling was considered a
	blatant civil rights violation. The practice of singling out
	racial or ethnic groups during traffic stops or at border checks
	was condemned by courts, civil rights groups and the American
	public. In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attack, however,
	thousands of Arabs and Muslims complain that they are being
	unfairly scrutinized and harassed. A practice that was once
	considered intolerable is now accepted as a necessary tactic in
	the war on terrorism.

	Profiling Arabs and Muslims represents a critical test for our
	multiracial, multicultural democracy. Must we sacrifice individual
	rights in order to avoid another terrorist hijacking? Will we
	adhere to the principle that people are to be judged by their
	acts, not by the group into which they were born? Or will we
	allow our fears to balkanize America.

	From our experiences with racial profiling in the war against
	drugs, we have learned a number of important lessons that can be
	applied now in fighting terrorism.

	First, using race or ethnicity as a proxy for involvement in crime
	is both too broad and too narrow to be effective. Targeting people
	who appear to be Arabic is too broad because most of the millions
	of Arabs in the United States are loyal citizens, not dangerous
	terrorists. The profile is too narrow because there is no such
	thing as a "Middle Eastern" look. Arabs come in all colors and
	sizes. Egyptians can be lightskinned and blue-eyed. Indeed,
	numerous Americans who trace their heritage to Mexico, Spain,
	Greece, India and Italy share a "Middle-Eastern" look.

	Second, criminals frequently modify their profile. During
	the war on drugs, any drug courier profile the police created
	quickly became ineffective because drug distributors responded
	with an "anti-profile." If, for example, the police targeted
	blacks in out-of-state rental cars, the traffickers would begin to
	use female couriers in vans.

	With "people of Arab appearance," targeted, it is highly unlikely
	a sophisticated terrorist group will again use Arabs in airports.

	Third, by focusing on a particular group, we may overlook the
	criminal behavior of individuals whose appearance may not arouse
	our suspicion. If we target blacks and Latinos in drug stops, we
	may miss the many white drug dealers. In the aftermath of the
	Sept. 11 attack, we should fear that our narrow focus on "Arabs"
	will blind us to the presence of terrorists like Timothy McVeigh,
	the Unabomber or the white passenger who recently attempted to
	slit the throat of a Greyhound bus driver.

	Fourth, profiling is widely employed by ordinary citizens in a
	destructive manner. Perhaps taking their cue from law enforcement,
	white cab drivers don't always stop to pick up black men. Blacks
	and Latinos are frequently followed through stores by security
	guards who see them as potential shoplifters.

	In a similar way, angry Americans have recently attacked dozens of
	individuals across the country, based only on the fact that their
	victim spoke with a foreign accent and had dark skin. Since Sept.
	11, the FBI has investigated more than 40 anti-Arab and
	anti-Islamic hate crimes across the country. In addition, there
	have been more than 300 reports of harassment and abuse filed with
	the Council on American-Islamic Relations. 
	Finally, when criminals share racial and ethnic traits with large
	urban populations, it is better to work with the community than
	against it. When the police formed partnerships and collaborated
	with black and Latino residents in the war on drugs, they received
	information, intelligence and support that enabled them more
	effectively to target and prosecute the criminals within those
	communities. Perhaps instead of alienating and targeting the
	entire Arab-American population, we should cooperate with them to
	identify those members of their community who may be engaging in
	terrorist activities. Arab-Americans may be our best guides to
	what constitutes suspicious activity within the Arab population.
	So instead of trying to ferret out Arab-looking folks, perhaps we
	should be focused on race-neutral responses that might improve our
	ability to detect terrorism from any source and by any person.
	Perhaps every passenger in an airport should be searched by wands.
	Or, maybe we should select passengers to interrogate on a random
	basis. Perhaps all of us should be made to carry a national
	identification card.

	Rather than settling for the false sense of security that racial
	profiling may provide, we should insist that the FBI and the CIA
	obtain better intelligence about potential terrorists and planned
	criminal activity in the United States and that all of us
	participate in the process of creating better security systems in
	our airports, bus terminals, public buildings and urban
	skyscrapers. Only when we address these fundamental security
	problems will we truly be prepared to protect the homeland against
	terrorist attacks.

	Deborah Ramirez is professor of law and co-director of the
	Institute on Race and Justice. Jack Levin is director of the
	Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict, both at Northeastern

	LOAD-DATE: November 07, 2001


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