Profiles in pure common sense

10/12/2013 5:00 PM

10/12/2013 11:20 PM

The random profiling of individuals by race, religion or national origin is a violation not only of law but also of fundamental decency.

The key word in that statement, however, is



Discriminate profiling is a perfectly acceptable feature of everyday life.

A fair-minded employer may choose not to hire a paroled thief.

A prudent homeowner with young children may reasonably complain about the presence in the neighborhood of a known pedophile.

On an international flight, I once saw the plane’s co-pilot and a male attendant tie an inebriated and noisy passenger to his seat for the duration of the trip. It seemed an altogether appropriate response to the lout’s behavior.

The U.S. House Homeland Security Committee believes that al-Shabab, the Somali terrorist group that perpetrated the mall massacre in Nairobi, Kenya, may have recruited as many as 50 young Somali-Americans to serve as accomplices in its violent schemes.

If supported by credible evidence, that would be sufficient cause to scrutinize by whatever means possible — including telephone and electronic monitoring and screening of mail — the activities of individuals who fit that profile.

The ACLU may object, but good sense commands it.

For in a world plagued by almost continual murderous violence, nations have both the right and the obligation to defend themselves and their people.

I bear no grudge against Somalis as individuals or against the Muslim faith. But the indisputable fact is that much of the terrorism in the world today — in Western Europe, Russia, Africa, Asia, Canada, the Middle East and this country — is carried out by Islamist fanatics.

Discussing this with a longtime friend, one I know to be thoughtful and fair-minded, I said that if ever in an airport boarding area I were to see a man in a robe and headscarf unroll a prayer rug, drop to the floor facing east and begin chanting verses from the holy book, I would tear up my ticket and make a run for the exit.

I asked my friend, “Should I be ashamed of thinking that?”

“No,” he replied. “It doesn’t make you a bigot. It makes you a realist.”


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