There is nothing more painful for me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start to think about robbery and then look around and see it’s somebody white and feel relieved.
Reverend Jesse Jackson NY Times, 12-12-93
Profiling is a very unsavory activity, we are told. There are marches against it and laws against it. Let’s consider what profiling is, starting with the definition of three terms relevant to the discussion :
profiling: the act or process of extrapolating information about a person based on known traits or tendencies; the act of suspecting or targeting a person on the basis of observed characteristics or behavior.
discrimination: The ability or power to see or make fine distinctions; discernment.
prejudice: An adverse judgment or opinion formed beforehand or without knowledge or examination of the facts.
“Profiling” and “discrimination” are morally neutral terms. They describe the normal processes of thinking and making judgments. Discernment based on observable characteristic is rationality.
Prejudice can cloud rationality if an adverse opinion is formed without knowledge or examination of the facts. It is prejudice that should be condemned, not making judgments from observable facts.
Here are some observable facts:
- Rapes are primarily committed by men.
- Major terrorist attacks, worldwide, are primarily committed by young Muslim men.
- NBA Basketball teams consist primarily of young black men.
- Young black men are 7 times more likely to commit murder, and 8 times more likely to commit robbery than white men.
When you are looking for a rapist, it is rational to target men. When you are screening airline passengers, it makes sense to target those most likely to be a security threat. That would not be little girls and grandmothers. When you are on a dark street, being approached by a group of young men, it is rational to feel safer if it is a group of white men.
These are not foolproof judgments, but they are not prejudiced judgments either. They are simply factual observations. The makeup of sports teams is determined by judgment from observable facts, not from racial prejudice. There is no need to apologize to white people for their lack of representation on NBA teams. The position on the team was earned. The other judgments we are talking about are earned as well. There is no need to apologize for seeing reality as it is. There should be no laws against it.
Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, the NAACP, are calling for more laws against profiling in the wake of the Martin/Zimmerman case. The prosecution, defense and both families agree that this incident was not about race. Yet, Ben Jealous, of the NAACP, said, “We are outraged … and we will not rest until racial profiling in all its forms is outlawed.”
Apparently unaware of the statistics about racial violence and ignorant of the facts in the Zimmerman case, the NEA just launched an anti-profiling campaign. They say, “the case of Trayvon Martin has activated millions of Americans to urgently seek answers to how we can finally end wide-spread, officially-sanctioned, racial profiling and racially motivated violence….”
The campaigns against racial profiling and “Islamophobia” are campaigns against reason. It is unfortunate, but perfectly logical, to have an increased fear of violence from young black men or Islamic Jihadists. We must be clear that those who observe the problem are not the cause of the problem.
Millions of peaceful black men and peaceful Muslims suffer from the acts of the violent members of their group. They suffer directly from black on black and Muslim on Muslim violence, but they suffer indirectly from the bad image created by the violent minority. It is the violent minorities that deserve condemnation, not the people who observe and react to the violence. The observers are the effect, not the cause.
In President Obama’s July 19 black victimology speech, (brilliantly deconstructed here), he discussed profiling as a very significant problem that white folks need to reflect on. He said, with Clinton-like lip biting for effect, that many black men have the experience of walking near a car and hearing the doors lock or otherwise sensing fear from “white folks”. His implication was that this was proof of continuing white racism. It’s not. It’s fear of crime.
If Obama himself did some honest reflection he would see that doors have been unlocked for him for most of his life because he is black. At almost every point in his life it has been a huge advantage for him. This inexperienced Senator from Illinois was a viable Presidential candidate, not it spite of being black, but because he is black.