Local Press: On Racial Profiling

The following article was submitted today to the “In Theory” section of the local press (Valley Sun, Glendale News-Press and Burbank Leader), in response to a question regarding plans to increase security measures in several (dominantly muslim) countries.  The question being:  can this be considered racial profiling?


We live in frightening times.  Times in which it is becoming increasingly difficult to take for granted our safety, and to anticipate the source, target, timing, or severity of extremist violence.

This is a time in which our commitment to freedom manifests increasingly through a demonstrated willingness to hand ours over to someone else.  When I travel, I work hard to set aside my personal objections to what I experience as dehumanizing violations of privacy – all for what I can only hope will be the sake of our collective well being.

As a Unitarian Universalist, I have an intense interest in supporting our collective goal of a free and peaceful world community.  At the same time, I am committed to protecting the worth and dignity of every individual, of respecting and appreciating our differences.

The latter goal makes abhorrent in my eyes the practice of singling out individuals based solely upon their appearance, their ethnicity, their name, their religious affiliations.  The former makes me willing to stand in those security lines through which all must pass.

Applying additional security measures to certain parts of the world, through which terrorists have been known to travel, is not the same thing as applying them to individuals.  The proposed security measures will be collective, not personal.  As such, I do not agree with Iftikhar that this constitutes a personal injustice.  At the same time, I urge caution:  given what we know of the extremist agenda, our security is unlikely to be guaranteed through any of these measures, alone.

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