(53) Profiling Gone Bad
(Linda Chavez 10/30/02)
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Profiling gone bad (10/30/02)

Excerpted from the Linda Chavez Commentary in Townhall 10/30/02

          "From President Bush on down, it seems everyone is opposed to racial profiling -- that is, unless white men comprise the group of likely suspects.  For the three weeks that two snipers terrorized the Maryland and Virginia suburbs around the nation's capital, we heard endless speculation by government officials, experts and media commentators that the killings were likely the handiwork of an angry white man -- or men.

          "By assuming they "knew" the race of these killers -- with absolutely no evidence to back up their suspicions -- law enforcement officials may have impeded their own investigations.  That certainly appears to be the case with the sniper killings.   Washington, D.C., police chief Charles Ramsey acknowledged that police paid little attention to alleged snipers John Muhammad and John Lee Malvo, who on 10 separate occasions over the course of the killing spree crossed paths with authorities, according to the Washington Post.

          "Imagine the outrage if the murders had been committed by two white men, but police had 10 times passed up the opportunity to apprehend them because a phony racial profile -- and nothing more -- told them to be on the lookout for a black man? There would have been cries of racism, justifiably so.

          "But if police reliance on racial profiling helped lead them astray in tracking down the D.C.-area snipers, their reluctance to probe other important characteristics about the alleged snipers is equally troubling.  Muhammad's race is clearly irrelevant to his alleged crime -- but his political and religious views may be very important in understanding his motives.  Yet both government officials and most of the media are assiduously avoiding any discussion of Muhammad's conversion to Islam -- or, more accurately, the radical Black Muslim sect -- and his reported sympathy for al Qaeda, which are legitimate avenues of inquiry.

          "If the snipers had turned out to be two white guys who were members of some extremist Christian sect and had voiced sympathy for Timothy McVeigh, you can bet we'd be watching endless investigative reports on the evening news about right-wing Christian and militia groups."

Excerpted from Linda Chavez' commentary "Profiling gone bad" as it appeared in Townall on 10/30/02

Linda Chavez is the President of the Center for Equal Opportunity.

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