Working for logical immigation reform based on a stable population, a recognition of the finite nature of our natural resources and the adverse impact of continued growth on our quality of life, standard of living, national interest, character, language, sovereignty and the rule of law. Pushing back and countering the disloyal elements in American society and the anti-American rhetoric of the leftwing illegal alien lobbies. In a debate, when your opponents turn to name calling, it's a good sign you've already won.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Is Profiling Racist?

A new commenter at "Immigration Talk with a Mexican American" (ITWAMA), tried to contest my comment about Racial Profiling. I wrote that racial profiling is not a form of racism; racial profiling merely takes cognizance of the characteristics of illegal aliens to enable law enforcement to narrow its search and focus its limited resources on the the larger group consisting of their ethnic brethren because that is where they are most likely to be found rather than within other disparate populations.

The commenter wrote, " [racial profiling] presupposes that qualities attributed to a subset of a larger group are true of the group as a whole." Obviously,this statement is false. No such presupposition is involved in profiling. Quite the opposite in fact; racial profiling seeks to narrow the search by using the characteristics of the illegals to limit the search to the population that possesses those characteristics.

The commenter illustrates this with the following: "An example of such flawed reasoning is this: All professional baseball players are men, therefore all men are professional baseball players. Obviously this statement is absurd."

That much we can agree on but she uses the wrong example.

The appropriate example is: If all professional baseball players are men, to find professional baseball players, one should focus his or her efforts on the male population not on the entire population.

The commenter also errs in concluding that focusing on the male population signals a belief that all men are professional baseball players. That is the absurdity that she overlooks.

The commenter then applies this false example of profiling to illegal aliens writing, "All illegal immigrants are Hispanic (which is debatable) therefore all Hispanics are illegal immigrants."

She then concludes,"That is what racial profiling is. It is based on racist ideology and is therefore racist. You cannot separate the two."

I'm not surprised that she believes "racial profiling" is "racist." But she is wrong on all counts. The word "racial" should be eliminated from the term "racial profiling" because profiling in general can be based on many different factors, not just race. The word "racist" has been used so frequently by those who cannot marshal a more compelling argument that its real meaning has been lost. In such circumstances, I tend to consult my dictionary. That the commenter is wrong is obvious from the following definitions:

Racism-- "(1)an excessive and irrational belief in or advocacy of the superiority of a given group, people, nation, usually one's own on the basis of racial differences having no scientific validity.(2) Social action or government policy based on such assumed differences."

Racial profiling -- "the inclusion of racial or ethnic characteristics in determining whether a person is considered likely to commit [or have committed] a particular type of crime or an illegal act or is likely to behave [have behaved] in a "predictable" manner. It is often confused with the more comprehensive offender profiling and has been perceived to be directed most often toward non white individuals. The practice became particularly controversial toward the end of the 20th century in the United States, as the potential for abuse by law enforcement came to light."

Racial profiling is not based on an excessive and irrational belief in the superiority of one race or group. It is based on the idea that if one can identify one or more characteristics of the illegal aliens, the search for them can then be narrowed to the more limited population of only those who possess these characteristics.

The same logic is used by computer software and search engines to quickly locate a particular piece of information. For example, it one were looking for a particular email, by inserting a keyword or phrase, the search looks only for the messages that contain that keyword or phrase, rather than all messages. This is a form of profiling and search engines would be totally ineffective if they could not use this technique to quickly narrow the search.

It is unfortunate that some people use distortions or their own definitions to try to prove their point when perfectly good and valid definitions are readily available in the dictionary or on line. If one is a student of logic, then it is incumbent upon him or her to use it correctly.

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