Because of the recent acts of terrorism that have occurred involving aircraft, people are understandably a little nervous about boarding a flight. Even regular travelers who fly several times per month have gotten into the habit of examining their fellow passengers. Profiling them because of their race happens because the perception that certain ethnicities want to commit terrorism on an aircraft exist throughout the world.
42% of people believe that racial profiling is widespread in airports today, especially at security checkpoints.
Racial Profiling in Airports
Although racial profiling is often seen as unjust in any other type of circumstance, it is not always seen in the same light at the airport. Is it because there is less control over fate when you’re flying at 500mph at 35,000 feet? Possibly. It could also be that a greater fear of death simply overrides what a person’s overall perspective happens to be.
- Hispanic and African-American demographics believe that racial profiling at airports is more prevalent than any other demographic.
- 45% of people believe that racial profiling at an airport is justified if there is a security concern behind the purpose of the profiling.
- About 33% of African-Americans believe that any form of racial profiling at the airport is ever justified.
- According to Amnesty International USA, 24 states have laws on the books prohibiting racial profiling in one form or another, but only four states outlaw profiling based on religion.
It’s no secret that people are willing to compromise a few of their rights in order to have a more secure experience. That has definitely occurred at the airport, where 1 in 3 African-Americans believe that racial profiling is fine when security is involved, yet only 1 in 5 African-Americans believe racial profiling is fine to do in order to prevent theft at a retail store. Not surprisingly, 1 in 2 Caucasians believe racial profiling is necessary at airport checkpoints, while 1 in 4 believe it is appropriate in order to prevent retail theft.
What is Going on with Racial Profiling?
- Two-thirds of all passenger inspections at an airport upon entering the United States occur to people who are of color.
- Black and Latino Americans are 4 to 9 times more likely to be frisked or x-rayed when compared to their Caucasian counterparts.
- Black women are the most likely of any other demographic to be strip searched by airport security.
- In a 1 year study, 97% of people who were forced to have a pat down search were completely innocent. 77% of those asked for a strip search were also innocent.
- At just one airport in New York, 32 different security officers had complaints filed against them for racial profiling.
- Some TSA officers admit that 80% of the security searches they decide to implement occur to people of a minority race or ethnicity.
- A 2010 assessment of airport security procedures determined that racial profiling began in 2003 without any scientific justification behind the process, despite polices that specifically state racial profiling is not tolerated.
- With 1.8 million passengers going through US airports every day, extensive screening of each passenger just isn’t possible and that’s why racial profiling is justified.
It’s easy to justify an action once it begins and no one complains about it. That’s what happened in 2003. With the September 11th attacks in New York City just 18 months old, people were willing to overlook a little “inconvenience” in order to feel safer while flying to their next destination. That was over a decade ago, however, and people aren’t finding as much value in this kind of practice, especially those who are being profiled. When police officials start asking TSA officials why so many referrals are of minorities, it is time to start asking the same question at the individual level.
Why is Racial Profiling Seen as Being OK?
- The chances of a terrorist actually being a Muslim is 1 in 8 million, but if you remove the events of September 11th, the odds are actually 1 in 90 million.
- Because the incidents of terrorism are so low, almost everyone who is ever searched in an intimate way will be innocent.
- When a best rate fallacy is used to screen passengers, terrorists adapt to become part of the demographics that experience the fewest levels of racial profiling incidents.
- Most Muslims are not Arabs and criminals come from every race and ethnicity. To profile one race or a group of races will simply result in even more innocent people having their privacy violated.
- Secondary screening by the TSA simply allows the government to reinforce engrained stereotypes that further enhance the passions of prejudice that people feel.
- Racial profiling is an ineffective security practice in any way that it is practiced. It is simply an ineffective method of finding criminal conduct.
- The largest negative feelings aren’t in the fact that a stop was based on an ethnicity, but that a passenger’s bag was opened and done so in a disrespectful or accusatory fashion.
Women have blown up airplanes. White American men have blown up buildings. One guy who tried to blow up an airplane was from Jamaica and had a British father. It doesn’t take a certain race, religion, or creed to become a terrorist. It simply takes a form of radicalism that is fueled by activities such as racial profiling to feel like someone needs to push back in order to maintain their way of life. Will there always be people who use religion or anti-government rhetoric as an excuse for their actions? Of course. It’s happened for hundreds of years – just look at the Crusades. What we need to do is make sure that we don’t just blindly accept racial profiling and the false security the practice provides. If we leave our eyes closed long enough, the one person we don’t want sneaking through security will actually accomplish their goal.
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