Greg Sargent brings us an ad from Florida GOP congressional candidate Dan Fanelli, campaigning in favor of racial profiling. That's not me exaggerating. Sargent:
In the spot, which ran over the weekend on a Fox affiliate in central Florida, Fanelli stands between a middle-aged white man and a younger, swarthy fellow. "Does this look like a terrorist?" he asks, gesturing toward the white. Then, pointing to the darker dude, he adds: "Or this?"
Fanelli concludes with a smirk, "if a good looking ripped guy without much hair was flying airplanes into the Twin Towers, I'd have no problem being pulled out of line at the airport." The line is almost identical in formulation to a 2001 column by Kathleen Parker in which she wrote, "If a 5-foot-6-inch, 115-pound middle-aged woman of Northern European extraction with shoulder-length, tastefully highlighted hair and dark-brown eyes who speaks English with a slight Southern accent recently had hijacked an airplane and killed thousands of people, I'd gladly subject myself to extra scrutiny."
Well, there's the initial problem, which is that racial profiling isn't any more effective than random screening. So rather than making anyone safer, you're just alienating the communities a former CIA analyst and chief of intelligence analysis for the Department of Homeland Security under the Bush administration has said are themselves "the only way" to really counter domestic radicalization.
There's also the part where profiling people from the Middle East or South Asia wouldn't have caught this guy, or this guy, or this guy, probably not this guy either, or this guy, or, this woman, or this woman, or...you get the picture.
-- A. Serwer