We must guard against erroneous profiling. A “blog” on the internet shows how ignorant people can be:
“After my wisdom teeth came out, I didn’t shave for several weeks, trying to hide my bruised, yellow jowls. When I came to work looking like a suicide-bomber, someone asked me if I “lost a bet.” I decided to take it off the next day.”2
We saw a rush to profiling on the basis of “Arab looking” in the days after 11 September 2001. One US commentator said “I think a lot of people, and a lot of liberals, by the way, Floyd Abrams, the New York lawyer; Lawrence Tribe, the Harvard Law Professor, have either said or suggested that for now, it would be crazy to sort of ignore the danger of a repetition by people who look like the people who did it the last time.” Stuart Taylor, a columnist for the National Journal and Newsweek, speaking on PBS, a national public service broadcaster in the USA in a programme called “Profile of a Terrorist” broadcast 26 September 2001.3
We saw a rush of panicked and ill thought out prosecutions: Earnest James Ujaama was arrested in July 2002 and it was alleged that he was running a training camp for al Qaeda in Oregon, and was a sleeper for the terrorist group. A converted Muslim, he pleaded guilty April 2003 to one charge of “of conspiring to provide goods and services to the Taliban, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).” He was not sentenced until February 2004. He was sentenced to two years’ jail plus three years supervised release. As he had been in jail for almost two years by the time he was sentenced, he may have already been released suggesting that the charges were not viewed with great seriousness.
We saw arguments in favour of racial profiling which made it plain that it was Muslims that are targeted:
“Post-9/11, the belief that racial, religious and nationality profiling is never justified has become a dangerous bugaboo. It is unfortunate that loyal Muslims or Arabs might be burdened because of terrorists who share their race, nationality or religion. But any inconvenience is preferable to suffering a second mass terrorist attack on American soil,” Michelle Malkin author In Defense of Internment: The Case for “Racial Profiling” in World War II and the War on Terror.4