July 25, 2005

Here's why it's often hard to not "profile"

This sort of thing makes me crazy mostly because it raises the human "reptilian" response function of my brain into high alert. You'll see why it makes me think of the ambiguity that pushes field operators in spy organizations to often shoot friendlies: when you don't know for sure who's friendly, everyone's an enemy.

A story in the Globe & Mail covers some dialogue between Canadian national security personnel, from Deputy Prime Minister through CSIS (spies), and an Imam in Toronto: Imam warns Ottawa to back off Muslims. The lead:

A controversial Toronto imam warned Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan at a closed-door meeting to stop "terrorizing" Canadian Muslims.
The irony of the statement exceeds even my ability to balance reality with surreality. More than that though, the story's next paragraph lays out a threat by this so-called "radical" religious man against the nation:
"If you try to cross the line I can't guarantee what is going to happen. Our young people, we can't control," Aly Hindy, the head of Scarborough's Salaheddin Islamic Centre, recalls telling the minister at the May meeting she held in Toronto with dozens of Muslim leaders.
Wow. That sounds like a (not so veiled) threat to me, laid off by the "leader" with a plaintive "it's so bad, we can't control . . ." So everyone in the government is being nice (read the rest of the article) and bending over backward not to overreact by calling this threat what it is; to not paint any or all Muslims with a brush that could be construed as "stereotyping;" to not even issue a response to this particular man by calling him out as making sedicious threats implying terrorism toward the nation. The whole thing is bizarre. As I recall, the White Russian dukubohrs (sp?) were put down quickly. Various ethnic immigrant groups through the early part of the century were interred and later stripped of their connections to their culture, families, etc., etc. simply because they belonged to a racial or ethnic group with which the country was at war. They themselves did nothing, made no threats, demanded no special treatment . . .

What's wrong with this picture? The entire issue is well beyond my ability to address it, lay blame (if any is to be laid), or assess a response. But, if a community within the country says it has no control over itself BUT -- and here's the big but -- follow our demands and not exert any control over us (or those in our community who we can't control) then what must a nation do to protect its house? I try to be pretty broad-minded and take people for who they are. But I also know that there's a really good likelihood that one tends to be like those one spends time with -- whoever that is.

Given all the recent events, imagine the combustability of the situation in the USA, in Britain, in Australia, and Israel.

Posted by Grayson at July 25, 2005 07:47 AM