Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

04/02/2010 (10:47 pm)

Homeland Security Meets White Guilt

The Obama administration on Thursday announced changes in their travel policy that abandons the test for extra screening based on nationality alone, and instead allows Homeland Security employees to use criteria educed from intelligence data to search travelers whose profile poses unusual risk, according to the Washington Post. Don’t look now, but the Obamites just embraced — are you ready for this? — profiling.

Knowing that the more extreme searches and precautions adopted in the wake of the Christmas Eve bomber incident would need to be altered before the onset of the summer travel season, the Obama administration introduced rules that will enable scanners to vastly reduce the number, but broadens the range of travelers to be stopped for extra searches. Screeners will be able to detain passengers whose characteristics match certain pieces of known intelligence.

Quoth the WaPo:

The official offered a hypothetical case to illustrate how the new system will work. If U.S. intelligence authorities learned about a terrorism suspect from Asia who had recently traveled to the Middle East, and they knew the suspect’s approximate age but not name or passport number, those fragments would be entered into a database and shared with commercial airline screeners abroad.

The screeners would be instructed to look for people with those traits and to pull them aside for extra searches, the official said, acknowledging that that in some cases, screeners will have to rely on their judgment as they consider the listed traits.

So if we know that a number of terrorists under surveillance happen to be, gee, I dunno, middle eastern men between the ages of 18 and 40, say…

I recall saying before President Obama took office that it was possible that reality would mug him regarding foreign policy and homeland security, and he would be forced to make policy in a more sensible way than his academic preconceptions would have advised him. This is what has taken place in his policy regarding Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. It now appears to be affecting homeland security. Certainly he knows that a 9/11-style disaster on his watch would cripple his party and his presidency, and he may even care to prevent that from happening for ordinary human reasons (no, I’m not certain that he feels much at that level, but he might).

My initial thought was to lampoon the Washington Post for reporting this without railing about the sheer inhumanity of a policy that allows profiling Muslims young men (among others.) Then I ran a search for articles published in the Post during the Bush years that took conservatives to task for counseling profiling by religion, gender, age, and race to focus on the groups from which nearly all the terrorists have come who have attacked America. I found this by William Raspberry, and this by Colbert King, and this by Eugene Robinson. And reading over them, I noticed something curious that they all had in common:

They were all written by blacks. Specifically, older black men, who might retain some personal experience of racial incidents from the 1960s.

Now, we’re all familiar with the Democratic party’s penchant for using victim shields as a means of stifling debate. We saw it best back when Ann Coulter dared to point out, in her book Godless, how left-leaning newscasters and talk show hosts used the victimhood of four wives of 9/11 victims to intimate that it was immoral and vicious to disagree with their hard-left rants about the Iraq war. Coulter was so impressed by the tactic that her next book, Guilty, recounted the many instances in which the left played the victim while victimizing others. And we’ve more recently seen the Kabuki theater surrounding national health insurance, wherein children and pitiable poor widows were trotted out to tell their heart-rending tales of oppression at the hands of heartless, vicious insurance demons. So it’s hardly a surprise that they’ve laid back and let black men take the point on arguing racial profiling.

Still, I can’t imagine that three separate black columnists took orders from some shadowy Sound Bite Central of the Democratic party. I think that at some level, it’s a natural response of black men who are sensitive to being singled out, to object to singling out anybody. And since it’s a natural response, it’s one we should treat with some respect.

Respect, yes, but not agreement. While I can certainly understand why William Raspberry might feel uneasy about TSA singling out people who look a certain way, his unease does not constitute a sound reason why we should not do it. This is not 1960, and we’re not engaging in an attempt at keeping racial groups pure; we’re protecting ourselves against an invasion.

The confusion between defense and racial prejudice suggests that much of the left’s opposition to sane homeland security measures can be traced to simple White Guilt — white people trying to prove their anti-racist bona fides. They apparently care a lot more about absolving themselves psychologically from oppressing blacks than they do about preventing lethal attacks against their fellow citizens. It’s depressing to consider how badly our culture has been whipped around by this sort of needy vanity. The West may not survive the vast expansion of personal vice; it illustrates the vital role played by good home life and stable families in maintaining civilization.

Obama’s concession to profiling marks a rare adult moment in his administration’s brief tenure. Maybe we’ll manage to survive the next 3 years without a truly major terrorist incident.

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