Racial Profiling? No Thank You:

by John Hawkins | June 4, 2002 6:10 pm

Racial Profiling? No Thank You: Because of 9/11 we have normally sensible people demanding that we institute racial profiling in our airports to prevent another plane from being hijacked. However, racial profiling is not the way to go. Personally, I believe that government mandated racial profiling is a violation of the Fourth Amendment. That makes it a non-starter as far as I’m concerned.

But the debate has been framed in such a way that people think they’re choosing between racial profiling or randomly frisking nuns and 85 year old war veterans. That has only appeared to be true so far because of the ham-handed and incompetent handling or airport security since 9/11.

What if we assigned a “risk factor” to each passenger and then randomly searched people based on how high their “risk factor” was. For example, if you’re male you’d have a higher risk factor than a woman. If you’re between the ages of say 18-40 you’d be more likely to get searched. Buying a one way ticket? Your “risk factor” just went up. Are you from outside of the US? It just went higher. Are from a country with known al-Queda cells? Ratchet it up another notch. Are you from a nation that supports terrorists or that is an al-Queda stronghold like Iraq, Iran, or Saudi Arabia? Crank it up even higher. So could grandma still get searched? Sure she could. But is it likely that 500 “higher risk” people would get searched for every “low risk” person? If it’s done correctly, yes.

Furthermore, this method would be more effective than racial profiling. Ask yourself which of these methods would be more likely to catch John Walker Lindh or an Al-Queda member recruited from Somalia if they tried to hijack a plane? See what I mean? Racial profiling is not the way to go…

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