Saturday, January 16, 2010

Strip-search 18-28-year-old Muslim men? Unethical and dangerously ineffective

  "If you are an 18-28-year-old Muslim man then you should be strip searched. And if we don't do that there's a very high probability we're going to lose an airliner." So said retired Air Force Lieutenant General Tom McInerney to Fox newscaster Julie Banderas.
Most Americans, and all constitutional lawyers, would consider such religious discrimination to be wrong: unethical and probably illegal. But perhaps it’s okay to do unethical things to save 300 lives, as General McInerny recommends.
Hmmm, if you were Al Qaeda and planning an attack against an American airliner could you possibly counter this policy of strip-searching 18-28-year-old Muslim males? Let me count the ways:
1) Send a non-Muslim
2) Send somebody who looks like a non-Muslim
3) Send a 35-yr old Muslim, like the double agent who killed seven CIA agents in Afghanistan.
4) Send a woman
Get the idea? Profiling is a good thing for law enforcement people to do. It lets them concentrate their efforts on people who behave suspiciously. Like maybe several recent short trips to Yemen. Or buying a one-way ticket and having no baggage. Or a thousand other things.
But profiling on the basis of religion? That’s the worst of both worlds: it is unethical and ineffective, and as a bonus, would give millions of peaceful and friendly Muslims good reason to hate us. We should reject this advice as dangerously wrong-headed.

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