Jil Bandes, Bushite, on Racial Profiling
It’s sad, but racial profiling is necessary for our safety
LICENSED TO JILL
September 13, 2005
I want all Arabs to be stripped naked and cavity-searched if they get within 100 yards of an airport.
I don’t care if they’re being inconvenienced. I don’t care if it seems as though their rights are being violated.
I care about my life. I care about the lives of my family and friends.
And I care about the lives of the Arabs and Arab Americans I’m privileged to know and study with.
They’re some of the brightest, kindest people I’ve ever met.
Tragically, they’re also members of an ethnicity that is responsible for almost every act of terror committed against the West in the recent past.
And in the wake of the anniversary of 9/11, I think it’s important to remember not only those who died, but how they died, why they died and where we stand now compared to where we stood then.
Four years and two days ago, we stood somewhere between apathy and ignorance. Sure, there were heinous acts of terrorism being committed in far-away lands, and sure, there was always the threat that some psychopath might do something.
After all, we’re the generation of Timothy McVeigh, the Unabomber and Columbine. The news was littered with coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, nerve gas on Japanese subways and terror in the Balkans.
But those attacks weren’t in the same buildings we toured on our eighth-grade class trips.
They didn’t kill 3,000 of our relatives.
They weren’t in our face.
So Bushie waged war on ’em. He set out to knock the evil off its axis, and we’re still there, duking it out.
And for good reason. You can debate a lot of things about post-9/11 foreign policy, but one thing you can’t debate is that taking out terrorists — or blatant human-rights violators — is a good thing.
You also can’t debate that of the 19 hijackers on those planes, all 19 were Arab.
And you can’t debate that while most Arabs are not terrorists, sadly, most terrorists are indeed Arab.
Given this combination, I want some kind of security.
Done in a professional, conscientious manner, racial profiling is more likely to get the bad guys than accosting my 12-year-old pipsqueak of a brother on his way to summer camp.
When asked if she had a boyfriend, Ann Coulter once said that any time she had a need for physical intimacy, she would simply walk through an airport’s security checkpoint.
I want Arabs to get sexed up like nothing else.
And Arab students at UNC don’t seem to think that’s such a bad idea.
“(Racial profiling) really doesn’t bother me,” said Sherief Khaki, a first-generation Egyptian-American and representative of the UNC-CH Arabic Club.
“So a couple of hours are wasted. Big deal.”
Said Muhammad Salameh, a junior biology major: “I can accept it, even if I don’t like it. I don’t want to die.”
Professor Nasser Isleem, a man for whom I have complete and utter respect after merely two weeks of sitting in his Arabic 101 class, said, “Let them search.”
“It depends on how I’m stopped, but if it is done in a professional manner … ”
Then he nodded.
“There were Muslims in those buildings, too.”
Some people say that racial profiling will make terrorism a self-fulfilling prophecy, or that it’s somehow unfair to designate certain individuals as being more likely to commit an act of terror than another.
If 19 blond-haired, blue-eyed, Caucasian Jews had plowed into the World Trade Center with two jumbo jets, I would demand to be interrogated every time I browsed Cheapflights.com.
After each interrogation, I would offer the official a cup of joe, then heartedly thank him for his efforts. And I would not be any more inclined to blow up innocent civilians as a result of it.
Neither would Sherief Khaki. Or Muhammad Salameh. Or Nasser Isleem.
Nearly every Arab American I’ve spoken with has done nothing but condemn the evil that was done just four years ago, and at least tacitly recognize that some profiling is necessary.
I have enough confidence in my country’s imperfect but steadfast law enforcement systems to carry out such profiling the way it should be done: in a professional and thorough manner, without going down the slippery slope of pointless and disrespectful encroachment on the livelihood or decorum of everyday Arabs and Arab Americans.
Stop, as Coulter advises, treating racial profiling like the Victorians treated sex — by not discussing the topic unless you’re recoiling in horror at the practice.
Embrace the race.
Contact Jillian Bandes, a junior majoring in international studies,