BOSTON (CBS) – Even though progress has been made toward curbing it, no one with a clue argues that racial profiling is a thing of the past in our law enforcement culture. Ask any black person you know if they’ve been stopped for, as the saying goes, “driving while black” recently, and I’ll bet there’s a good chance you’ll hear some horror stories.
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But the latest news on the racial profiling front is depressing and outrageous on a number of levels beyond the sheer injustice of it.
The New York Times reported yesterday that the TSA is investigating the claim of more than 30 federal officers participating in an anti-terror “behavior detection” program at Logan Airport that racial profiling has become rampant as security officers try to boost their results.
“Hispanics traveling to Miami, for instance, or blacks wearing baseball caps backward — are much more likely to be stopped, searched and questioned for ‘suspicious’ behavior,” reports the Times, quoting a white officer in the program saying: “They just pull aside anyone who they don’t like the way they look — if they are black and have expensive clothes or jewelry, or if they are Hispanic.”
I sure hope this turns out not to be true, although it’s hard to get large numbers of law-enforcement personnel to collaborate in outing their co-workers. Because if it is true, it’s not only racist, but extremely stupid.
Has there been a significant black or Hispanic presence in the ranks of terror suspects in recent years? Not that I could find in my research.
If the TSA was stopping disproportionate numbers of suspicious-acting people from Islamic countries with notable terrorist ties, that might be defensible. Based on the news this summer, I would hope they’re taking a good close look at hinky-acting white guys like the Colorado shooter or the Wisconsin Sikh murderer.
But it is an offense against all of us when law-abiding black and Hispanic citizens are being unfairly singled out by security guards looking to meet their quotas. It undermines both our sense of justice and our homeland security.
And if the TSA cops at Logan are guilty of it, mass firings seem like the minimum acceptable response.