Racial profiling is not a supportable answer

By Gus Bode

My 18-year-old niece got her tongue pierced this past week. I guess it’s the thing to do for young people; personally I think it’s silly. She told me ahead of time she was having it done, and she planned it so she would be back on solid food before Friday night pizza and movie night at la casa del Oz. I had honestly forgotten about her plans, and fixed pork adobo for dinner the evening she got spiked. Adobo is a big hit at our house, and my niece was unhappy I chose that night to prepare it. I think she thought I did it to torment her. Absurd; pork adobo is one of my wife’s favorites, and I was in the mood for some myself. OK, fixing taco salads the next night was deliberately ornery on my part.

They’re also a family favorite, especially for my niece. While the rest of us were noshing on shells filled with meat, beans, lettuce, cheese, salsa and guacamole, she was enjoying a nice bowl of Jello and a cup of chicken broth. But she went into her little act of body enhancement with her eyes wide open. I think she figured two days on a clear liquid diet would be no problem. She was, to say the least, nave. Navet is expected, and in some ways attractive in teenagers. The kind of puppy-cute thing that brings a smile to the face. It’s a lot less attractive in the general manager of a television station, especially when he advocates racial profiling, however reluctantly. I don’t have time to watch much television, but I do try to catch the 10 p.m. news and David Lettermen on a regular basis.

Mike Smythe, general manager of KFVS 12, followed the news with an editorial Wednesday. He began by relating the experience of his elderly mother who was randomly selected for a thorough search at an airport. Her bag was unpacked and searched and she was frisked. Mr. Smythe was apparently unhappy his mother was subjected to this treatment, and told of a similar incident involving an infant. He contended 83-year-old women and infants were unlikely to be smuggling weapons or bombs. He suggested that racial profiling was needed when selecting passengers for thorough searches. He calls it the next step with airline searches.


How nave! Such profiling might have stopped some of the hijackers on Sept. 11, but what about Richard C. Reid? Reid was the Briton-turned-radical-Muslim who made headlines in December when he was caught trying to light fuses in his shoes during a flight from Paris to Miami. He looked purely European. And he knew that authorities ignored searching the shoes of passengers. And what about Kim Washington? Washington, 38, pled guilty in January to smuggling heroin from Panama on two separate occasions. According to the story in the Chicago Tribune, Washington admitted using her baby as a cover while smuggling. Washington is hardly an anomaly, either.

In the past year, there have been several reports in newspapers around the country about smugglers using babies as cover while smuggling drugs in cans of formula. In many cases, the babies were rented expressly for that purpose the parents would receive money and/or drugs for the use of their child. It makes sense in a perverse way:people with babes in arms often receive deferential treatment. Racial profiling is an ugly, hateful practice. It only serves to harass the innocent based on artificial criteria. Moreover, it’s not likely to work. The people who would commit such horrific acts are not stupid. They undoubtedly watch the news and read newspapers. They did their homework before Sept. 11, and they’ll do it before the next time they strike.

To think that they might not recruit an elderly person or rent an infant as ploy to pass a security checkpoint is the height of navet. After all, it would be a logical next step for them.

Tales From Oz appears on Monday. David is a senior in journalism. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Egyptian. To read more of David’s work, go to http://www.talesfromoz.com.