When They All Just Happen to Be Arab, South Asian and/or Muslim

By Leticia Miranda Dec 30, 2009

Brooklyn New York Assemblyman, Dov Hikind, has a solution to Obama and Homeland Security’s search to "find and fix the vulnerabilities" that were exposed during last Friday’s failed airplane bombing. And no, it’s not body scanners, but racial profiling. Hikind plans to reintroduce his failed 2005 bill that would allow police to use racial profiling as a tool to identify terrorists in a crowd of airline passengers. He said to MyFox New York that his rationale in targeting people who look Arab, Middle-Eastern, South Asian or Muslim (Hikind seems to maintain one can "look" Muslim) is not racist, but based on historical fact.

"The history of modern terrorism has taught us that these attacks are repeatedly executed by young Muslim men of Arab or South Asian origin. This is not a time for political correctness."

Or civil rights, apparently. But already the discussion has sparked the racism of right-wing pundits who have taken advantage of Friday’s events to argue that racial profiling is a necessary measure. And while I want to say they are just right-wing nuts, Newt Gingrich, Republican House Speaker, is reared up and ready to actively "profile and to discriminate" leaving the "political correctness" and "cultural sensitives" of current enforcement measures behind. But Gingrich isn’t aware that racial profiling as an unofficial "counter-terrorist" practice does just this. Just ask those Latino citizens who were swept up by local law enforcement on pure suspicion that they were undocumented. Or look at the increase in reported discrimination complaints filed with the Counsel on American-Islamic Relations that increased from 1,717 after 9-11 to 1,972 in 2004. Racial profiling isn’t new. But the fact that lawmakers are considering using racial profiling as an official counter-terrorism tool reveals the more punitive measures Congress will take to manage the political frustrations of people who "happen to be" South Asian, Middle-Eastern, Arab, Latino and/or Muslim.