In order to understand the core of the issue of racial profiling, we must understand the issue of mandatory versus voluntary discrimination. Although the word discrimination has taken on negative connotations, voluntary discrimination is something that human beings do daily. People voluntarily discriminate for myriads of reasons, from what car they drive, to what food they eat, and which neighborhood they live in.
When a person decides, for instance, what type of character his friends must hold, this is also a form of discrimination. When another person uses race, rather than character as the criteria of which friends he will keep, this is known as racial discrimination. Whether the consequences of that person’s discrimination are benificial or not has no bearing on that fact that it still is discrimination. These forms of discrimination all fall into the category of voluntary discrimination. Every human being is entitled to voluntary discriminate and the consequences of that discrimination may either work in that persons favor, or work toward their peril.
In a proported attempt to be politically correct, a proponent of racial discrimination has used the analogy of the grocery shopper discriminating in her choice of which apples to purchase. It is worth noting that the very nature of this analogy is evidence of either the misunderstanding the author has concerning the nature of the nature of racial profiling, or the racialist philosophy of the author who invoked the analogy.
A summary of the analogy stated that most apples are delicious and nutritious; however, most shoppers would avoid apples that have “lost their healthy color.” The inference was that “unhealthly color” in an apple is evidence to its being rotten. While this may or may not be true, how can one then leap to the conclusion that the same analogy can be applied to the human race? Is there really such thing as a “natural color” among human beings? Even if the author managed to persuade readers that there is, how could one thus conclude that any one who has “deviated” from this natural color should be considered rotten? What is striking is that the author penned this analogy with a disclaimer which declared it to be the “most politically correct” analogy they can think of. If this is the case then I would not like to hear a politically incorrect argument from this author.
Aside from the philosophical flaws in the variables of the analogy, the analogy itself is flawed at its very core (no pun intended). The fundamental flaw is that it attempts to invoke an instance of passive (voluntary) discrimination in order to justify active (mandatory) discrimination. Shoppers naturally pass over apples which they consider less desirable and most can agree that this is their right as shoppers.
However, passing over an apple is fundamentally different than singling out that fruit for persecution. Some shoppers may prefer softer riper apples and other may prefer harder crisper apples. It is the grocery stores perogative to sell apples within a range of reasonable conditions to meet the needs of all shoppers. A shopper may pass over certain types of apple in preference to others, but that shopper does not have the right to hide, throw away, slice, mash, or poke holes into the rest of the apples on display. Other shoppers would have a right to purchase those apples. Should they be denied that right just because the first shopper has mandated her discriminatory tastes over the entire produce section?
The final analogy used by this proponent of racial profiling is the analogy of a department of homeland security (DHLS) employee offering assistance to handicaped passanger. Once again an instance of voluntary discrimination is invoked in order justified mandatory discrimination. What is most incredible about this anaolgy is that in its usage the author implies that racial profiling is not only necessary, but the polite thing to do.
Since the DHLS officer is not obligated to guide the visually impaired or actively assist the handicapped one would reasonably expect that the handicapped passenger would be greatful for this polite assistance. The logical conclusion which has been inferred by such an analogy is that the African American professor Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. should be grateful for having been handcuffed for attempting to enter his own home after he presented I.D. to the police officer proving his residence. Or Wallied Shater (President Bush’s personal body guard) should have been thankful for being thrown off the plane even after showing his secret service credentials. This inference is the true insult to everyone of sound mind and reason.
Unlike what would have been the case with mandatory discrimination, the visually or physically impaired in the example is not compelled to sit in a wheel chair as a precondition to his travel and thus has the right to refuse this assistance. In the case of racial profiling, the victim does not have the right to refuse to not be profiled, harrased or denied freedom of movement. A more appropriate analogy which would illustrate the true nature of mandatory discrimination is a scenario in which handicapped ramps and wheelchairs are banned from usage in the airport and those handicaped who happen to make it thorugh despite the barriers, are then singled out for special harrassment.
Most reasonable people would recognize the injustice of such a practice. One would have to be incredibly callous to ignore an injustice toward a specific group only this injustice does no immediate harm to them. To actively support discriminatory policies however goes beyond the scope of callousness and is evidence or a much deeper sickness.