Essay about Racial Profiling Violates the Constitution

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Racial Profiling Violates the Constitution

After the heinous attacks of Sept. 11, Americans have been forced to face the issue of racial profiling? Americans love to use data and statistics to justify their actions. What data might justify special searches of anyone who looks "Arab" at an airport? There are up to 7 million Arab Americans in the United States. If we add all those South Asians (1.6 million), Latinos and African Americans who might "appear" Arab, we have a ballpark figure of at least 10 million folks. How many of these are bona fide terrorists? Let's say 100. That amounts to 0.001 percent.

As a very rough comparison, consider that in 1999 alone, roughly 350,000 men were arrested for violent crimes.
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We may also waste valuable resources on "false positives," those who fit the profile but who are not terrorists. That is the lesson of scientist Wen Ho Lee, who was scapegoated as the "spy" who leaked nuclear secrets to China.

And if profiling is being justified in cold, cost-benefit terms, how many lives are we actually saving? Don't you think we could save far more by mandating head-curtain airbags, reducing the national speed limit (which would also decrease our dependence on Middle Eastern oil), discouraging smoking and encouraging exercise?

Fourth, do not underestimate the harm.

Just as it is easy to spend other people's money, it is easy to burden other people's liberties -- especially racial and ethnic minorities. Just ask a young Black man profiled as a rapist, a Black woman profiled as a drug mule, a Latino profiled as an illegal immigrant, a Japanese American survivor of the internment profiled as a traitor.

How much would you have to be paid before you would agree to live the life of a "false positive," stopped at airports, bus stops, stadiums, skyscrapers, malls? Think about the time, the inconvenience, the insult to dignity. Think about trying to calm your children bewildered by armed men. Now think about this happening every day of your life.

Fifth, gauge long-term, big-picture

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