The articles ‘Racial profiling: A matter of survival’ by Michelle Malkin and ‘Loosing Liberties’ Arsalan Iftikhar presents two contrasting viewpoints on the sensitive issue of suspects roundup and intelligence gathering that was taken up by the US government after September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. As most of the people affected by these operations happen to be Muslims and Arabs from different countries living in the USA, charges of racial discrimination and ethnic profiling have frequently been labeled against the government.
In ‘Racial profiling: A matter of survival’ Michelle Malkin, also author of ‘Racial Profiling” in World War II and the War on Terror’, has tried to offer a meaningful insight in the validity of Government’s action. Suspects round up and intelligence gathering, even if they requires racial profiling, are seen as valid steps due to the larger national security concerns and interests they aim to protect eventually. Further, racial profiling is also considered as an unfortunate inevitability in the article due to the similar ethnic backgrounds, religious views and ideology shared by Muslims and Islamic extremists that are fighting USA world over.
‘Loosing Liberties’ challenges this inevitability of racial profiling without questioning Government’s right to defend national security. The author of article, Mr. Iftikhar, national legal director of Council of American-Islamic Relations at the time when the article was written, expresses strong discontentment with the approach of government after 9/11 attacks. In the view of the author, government’s specific targeting of its own Muslim population and Muslims and Arab immigrants in USA, without any apparent reason other than that they happen to share same religious and perhaps ethnic and national backgrounds with Islamic terrorists betrays deep prejudice and prevailing sense of discrimination adopted at highest echelons. As the author claims, these activities shall rather endanger the stability and peace of US society by promoting segregation, mistrust and conflict among various sections of society. The steps are also considered to be violating the founding principles of US constitution.
Views of both the writers differ on their approach to the scale and scope of of the issue. While going through article of Ms. Malkin both the scale and scope appear to be minor ones, where government agencies would be just innocuously interrogating a handful of possible suspects. In the reading of Mr. Iftikhar, the problem assumes considerably larger dimension and it appears that entire Muslim community of America is under threat by government actions.
Various arguments and justifications are given both way by respective authors to support their claims and viewpoints. Ms. Malkin states that racial profiling is logical as it’s the Islamic extremists who are cause of threat to US interests and therefore arguably it’s the Muslim population alone that can provide any possible information on their further plans. US intelligence agencies are bound to pursue the closest leads and links to possible terrorist plans. The national interests of the US overarch every other interest and hence the government is fully entitled to take every conceivable approach, in this case racial, ethnic and national profiling, to protect America.
It was the fear of being labeled as racially discriminative that caused the unprecedented tragedy of 9/11, believes Ms. Malkin. Citing the example of FBI agent Kenneth Williams, she informs about the policy of appeasement and non confrontation that government choose to adopt in face of incriminating evidences on activities of militant Muslims in USA, but which FBI superiors deliberately ignored. Had government cared somewhat less about hurting some isolated sentiments, Malkin says, the twin towers and thousands of life could have been saved. As long as the dangers of Osama Bin Laden still looms large over US, discrimination, it is argued is more prudent than blindness.
At certain point though, the author appears to take extremists stance herself, especially in case of Army Capt. And Muslim chaplain James Yee. Capt. Yee was initially charged and subsequently acquitted of espionage. Ms. Malkin approach this entire episode with some skepticism and doesn’t entirely believe in non-complicity all Muslim Chaplains in the army.
‘Loosing liberties’ on its part strongly refutes government’s approach. According to the author government’s policies of racial profiling has led to undue harassment of hundred’s of Muslims and Arab in USA, where they have been illegally detained and interrogated by US officials. He claims that by selective and deliberate targeting of Muslims, government is violating citizenship’s rights and damaging the multicultural facet of American society. Quoting a civil liberty expert Dr. David Cole to express his point that government policies have hardly touched any real terrorist while causing trouble, anxiety and humiliation for thousands of innocent Arab and Muslims in USA. Instances of pursuing and prosecuting Muslims on flimsy grounds of immigration violations are regrettable and avoidable instances of discrimination in the opinion of author which it must stop immediately
‘Loosing Liberties’, also criticizes baseless Islamophobia that is in vogue among right wing factions of American society. Statements by Ann Coulter demanding Muslims to convert into Christianity or by Pat Robertson against Muslim or Hindu judges on federal court benches, in the view of the author would increase hatred and prejudice in the social conscience. A number of statistical data and figures which he cites to show increasing instances of racial discrimination, prejudices and ethnic targeting of Muslims and Arab people in US. Reference to US partition Act and NSEERS are provided to highlight cases of discrimination against Muslims.
Mr. Iftikhar cites two cases in support of his argument of continuing discrimination and harassment of innocent people due to their ethnic backgrounds. One American Muslim convert Brandon Mayfield who was wrongly implicated in Madrid bomb blasts of 3/11 and of Capt. Yee whose ultimate acquittal of all the charges as a clinching proof of unfounded and prejudicial discrimination against innocent Muslims.
‘Racial profiling: A matter of survival’ Ms. Malkins almost ridicules and arraigns civil-rights voices opposing racial profiling. She harshly criticizes civil-rights groups and people opposing racial profiling of possessing unfounded and insincere views on the whole issue.
In her own words
“The civil-rights hypocrites have never met a “compelling government interest” for using racial, ethnicity or nationality classifications they didn’t like, except when that compelling interest happens to be the nation’s very survival”
The approach of Ms. Malkin is one of safeguarding national security and interests, even at the temporary cost of individual freedom and sense of justice. On contrary, Mr. Iftikhar states his case from point of view of democratic ideals and principles of equality enshrined in American constitution, and insist on them being honored to uphold the fundamentals of US constitution.
Malkin, Michelle. Racial policy: a matter of survival. USA Today. 2004. 09.02.2006. http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2004-08-16-racial-profiling_x.htm
Iftikhar, Arsalan. Loosing Liberties. TomPaine.common sense. 2005. 09.02.2006 http://www.tompaine.com/articles/2005/05/19/losing_liberties.php