A Nation of Profilers
Victor Davis Hanson
Profiling is considered among the worst of American sins.
Not long ago,
Here is where the argument about an individual and the group turns nasty: Is using statistics on collective behavior a reasonable tool of law enforcement to anticipate the greater likelihood of a crime, or is it gratuitously stereotyping the innocent? Or sometimes both, depending on how it's done?
More than 60 percent of voters nationwide either support the
Otherwise, would it be presently OK for the border patrol to try to detain suspicious Hispanic males for possible immigration violations at or near the border, but not OK for police to ask for ID from the same person should he make it a few miles past the border?
Or imagine the reaction if nearly a million mostly poor, white French-Canadians were trying to cross into
On a recent international flight, I noticed the cabin crew was far more attentive to a group of Arabic-speaking, Middle Eastern males than it was to a group of Chinese nationals. Had the attendants collated the number of terrorist incidents since 9/11, concluded that the vast majority of them were attempted by Middle Eastern males, and so tried to give more attention to politely watching one group than another? And should they have, given that the vast majority of Middle Eastern males reject terrorism?
When we weigh racial and gender stereotypes for what we deem are noble purposes, we call it "diversity," but when considering criteria other than one's individuality for matters of public safety, it devolves into "profiling"?
So what are we to make of the
First, rightly or wrongly, most Americans have long accepted some forms of both private and government profiling that draws on greater statistical likelihood. Second, should
And fourth, the third likelihood accounts for much of the angry reaction to the
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A Nation of Profilers | United States
(c) 2010 Victor Davis Hanson