white guys: the other terrorists

Sometime in September 2001, in the minds of most Americans the word "terrorist" became synonymous with "Arab Muslim". Somehow, the Oklahoma City bombing and the white male Christian terrorists behind it were completely forgotten.

Perhaps the bizarre case of Joe Stack, the man who crashed his plane into an IRS office today, will remind us about those other terrorists, and that racial profiling doesn't work because extremists come in all colors.

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Playing the Odds

Tom,

When I knew you many years ago you were very fond of Spock. That being said wouldn't it be logical to profile. The facts being there are limited resources for fighting terrorist and more terrorist than we can possibly catch prior to them committing an act of violence. Hence it would make the biggest impact to use the limited resources to investigate the groups, racial, social, or whatever, with the highest percentages of radicals. We would then have a higher chance of preventing the most bloodshed. As Spock was fond of saying (prior to the lame movie) "The good of the many outweighs the good of the few or the one" It may not seem ethically correct but my question to you would be, is it ethically correct to let someone else come to harm due to your ethical positions.

Ascerb1 (Doug Hooper)

PS - The above statements may not represent my own beliefs - but I does like me a goooood argument.

First -- hi, Doug! Second --

First -- hi, Doug!

Second -- the point is that Stack is a reminder that it's not the case that "the highest percentages of radicals" is found among Arabs or Muslims. According to the wik, between 1980 and 2000, 250 of the 335 incidents considered "terrorist acts" in the United States, were carried out by American citizens. Keeping in mind that many of those "terrorist" acts were no such thing, just vandalism, still you've got McVeigh and Nichols, the Unabomber, the anthrax attacks, the Centennial Olympic Park bomber, the Holocaust Memorial Museum shooter, all those abortion clinic bombers -- and lest we think it's only white folks, there's the Black Liberation Army and the Jewish Defense League.

Even when it comes to Muslim religious wackos, you've got Jihad Jane to swing right past any racial or ethnic profiling.

Now, when it comes to "social profiling", at the theoretical level I don't have any beef with keeping an extra eye on people who have associations with groups that have carried out or promoted violence. The problem is that this gets applied awfully selectively. Bringing a gun to a teabagger rally and screaming about the "blood of tyrants" is a-ok, but mention how the Palestinians have been getting a raw deal and you can understand (not agree with, but understand) why desperate people might support suicide bombers, and suddenly you're a terrorist sympathizer.

Furthermore, profiling is almost always interpreted as harassment, and thus turns members of the profiled group against the authority doing the profiling. If I got hassled at the airport for being, say, a vegan, then months later the cops are looking for a bad guy who happens to be a vegan and want to know if I know anything about him, I'm much less likely to cooperate.

Spock was also a supporter of the Vulcan philosophy IDIC, "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations", celebrating diversity. Racial profiling is pretty much the antithesis of IDIC.

Tom Swiss - proprietor, unreasonable.org

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