Profiling? I believe the majority of the voters in this country want our law enforcement officers (and the citizenry) to use good common sense on this subject. Our law enforcement departments don’t suspect people because of their race, religion, occupation, dress, height, weight, age, sex, attractiveness, education, or profession. Behavioral factors are a major reason anyone should be watched. If authorities suspect something may be out of place the great majority of us want them to continue further surveillance. Law enforcement officers are trained to look for patterns such as individuals buying cell phones by the case or large quantities of explosive making materials. Other factors including “profiling”, who they communicate and socialize with, would be included in the laws assessment whether to warrant legitimate surveillance, search or arrest. Our safety often depends on expediency as most of us would rather be inconvenienced than dead or injured. Do officers of the law sometimes make mistakes? Yes, and sometimes serious ones but that is the way of our lives. Corrective action is usually taken.
I was born on a farm and we profiled with regularity. If we saw individuals and activities that did not fit in with our neighborhood kept an eye on the situation and sometimes alerted our neighbors. It was not unusual to have our produce stolen and it was not being stolen by the neighbors. Now living in the city, I expect our informal neighborhood watch to do the same. If we had an animal missing we described it by color, sex, size and breed. If we saw a Hereford bull among our Angus heifers, (or vice-versa) we made some quick decisions without asking the heifers what they thought.
When I was very young we had gypsy wagon caravans that would come down the back roads. Most of them were not thieves but our awareness senses were alerted until they had moved on. Also, our Mom would not let any hired men sleep in our house; I had seven sisters so mom was doing a little profiling on her own.
After 9/11 profiling awareness was intensified which means more of us are alive today because of this precautionary and inconvenient surveillance. None of the systems used such as behavioral recognition, Secure Flight, SPOT and terrorist watch lists work to everybody’s satisfaction. We can by observation know some of the programs that identify threatening people have been working as we have not had any major terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. Unfortunately pacifist organizations and many radical ACLU operatives have slowed and complicated the process. So have bureaucratic fumbling, privacy protection controversy and technology failures.
Accept that our lives changed drastically in this decade. Accept that this country founded as a Christian country is under attack by world-wide terrorist operatives that are determined to destroy the United States of America. And Israel. The millions of people whose job it is to protect us are under threat by many of our own citizens who give solace to terrorist organizations, to try to force our government to expose their intelligence gathering actions. The ill-informed or radicals of any ilk may protest any act that might infringe on ones rights because this is a free country. Anyone can say or write whatever opinion they form or magnify any half-truth to make our government look like the oppressor. Or the media can constantly show images that often cause opinion changes that assist the enemy..
No, this country is not a “free” country and never was a free country. Ask members of the black community, the Jewish community, the Chinese community and many religious groups to name a few whose liberties have been and sometimes are compromised with acts leading to even death and destruction. We operate under sets of laws and the more we weaken these laws to give freedom to Nazi organizations, hate groups, religious zealots and Islamicfascist terrorists, the less free we become. All people who live in this melting pot called the United States of America must accept some injustice and inconveniences if we expect to live as the freest country in the world.
The plot in England was discovered and foiled, at least, so far, because a large number of people were under surveillance concerning their spending, travel and communications with emphasis on their communications which allowed security to determine if their behavior was or was going to be detrimental to the safety of free people.
Suggested reading is “The Looming Tower” by Lawrence Wright, a detailed look at al Qaeda’s founder and the U. S. agents who saw the threat developing before 9/11. Many recognized the threat thru profiling, surveillance and intelligence gathering but were denied a voice largely because of the legal/bureaucratic wall between the FBI and the CIA, a wall largely dismantled by the Patriot Act. Now pacifist groups are trying to dismantle the Patriot Act. Wake up, those of you who think a lot like I do. We are becoming more and more under threat by those who claim to defend democracy when actually many of them want democracy to fail and blame it all on our current political leaders. There are many leaders from both political parties who can share equally in any blame game. Replacing Republicans with Democrats (or vice versa) is never a whole answer. The “hate and kill United States infidels” thinking started long before any Clinton or Bush presidency. Read up on the history of the world. Realize that we are never going to be safe in this country no matter what political body is in power. The more some “chatter” or walk in political protests, the less safe we all become
A good friend of mine just returned from some weeks in Europe. She and her husband were very concerned with the way some European countries are being influenced by those who would return that Europe to the middle ages. Many terrorist groups would like to do the same to us and these terrorists have been and are spread all over the world.
Those of us who believe in our form of government must speak up more to offset the type of half-truth drivel written by one Tonya Sneed of Peoria in today’s JS. I suggest she should have stayed in Guatemala or head to the MidEast to “get to know the people” and write her letters to the editors. She probably doesn’t believe some countries and religious terrorists would behead her for writing what she wrote. Empathy, which most of us in the world have, is one thing; the half-truth blame game is another.
Leonard Pitts is not my favorite columnist but he got it largely correct in his column in the JS today.