Governments that support, or simply overlook, race-based discrimination foster a lack of social cohesion, a lack of representation, abuse, and all around improper governance. As such, racism institutionalized by the Law and the criminal justice system cannot be tolerated. A legacy of racism, however, places black Americans in dysfunctional communities where they are more likely to commit or become the victims of violent crimes. This is why reoccurring tragedies, such as the Dallas Police Shootings and the Baton Rogue Police Killings, as well as the Philando Castile Killing and the Alton Sterling Murder, provoke massive protests and heated public debates on racism.
Unfortunately, racism is alive and well throughout the entirety of the world. Although Westerners tend to think of racism as discrimination between whites, blacks, and browns, racism goes far keeper than skin color. White Europeans may be have overcome their racial divisions with political institutions like European Union, but prejudice against the Roma, Polish, Irish, Jews, Italians, Germans, Spaniards, Greeks, and others can be found across the developed world. In places like India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, the racism of the brown peoples is most apparent where socially and legally enforced caste systems ensure racism is thoroughly institutionalized.
Truthfully, racism will always exist as it is the decision of individuals to discriminate based on a person’s race. On the other hand, the harm of racism can be limited by ensuring the Law and the criminal justice system is free of racism. As the subject of racial profiling inevitably follows any discussion on race, crime, and terrorism, it is an important area to look for solutions. In theory, determining if members of a race are more likely to be involved in a particular kind of crime allows police to more efficiently conclude who has committed a crime or who might commit a crime. Not only is racial profiling terribly divisive, however, it is not necessary a useful method.
The psychological and socioeconomic profiling of individuals can help investigators focus their attention on people who are more likely to commit a crime or more likely to have committed a crime while helping police deploy their recourses more efficiently, but profiling can also blind police by narrowing their focus and misleading them. The problem with over relying on statistics is that statistics tell us what has happened, which helps us guess what will happen. Just as we can rely on the weatherman to warn us of a thunderstorm, the likelihood of a tornado in Kansas does not mean it will rain in New York City.
The basic problem with relying on racial profiling is the limitations of all statistics share. Statistics allow us to draw a picture of what has happened in the past. If that picture is constructed in a useful way, we understand what is more likely to happen in the future. We just need the right kind of data and a lot of that data to guess the future. Although there is plenty of data available on crimes committed by blacks and whites, at least on the national and international level, those who commit crimes and the type s of crimes they are likely to commit have far more to do with the character and environment of the criminal than national trends.
Because a crime is a function of one’s personality and circumstances, deterring who has committed, or will commit, a crime requires a local focus. As local statistics can be very limited, this limits the effectiveness of profiling that looks at broad characteristics like race. It is far more useful for police to investigate known criminals and people in neighbors where crime is a way of life. In other words, racial profiling is a waste of time at the local level where crimes happen and where they are solved. If anything, racial profiling distracts the police from properly investigating actual crimes.
Furthermore, terrorist attacks in places like Nice, France provoke calls for the profiling of Muslims. Friends and family have insisted the perpetrator of the terrorist attack was not a faithful Muslim or a particularly religious person, yet the analysis of the man has suggested he was quickly “radicalized” by the Islamic State. Either the Islamic State has developed frighteningly effective way to recruit new members or the assessment is missing something. What the analysis of the attacker fails to recognize is that “radicalization” is not limited to religious ideology.
For every fanatical, radical religious group, there is a political dimension that draws and motivates supporters. In other words, the perpetrator of the Nice Terrorist Attack could have easily been attracted to the Islamic State cause for reasons outside of religious ideology. Through his words and deeds, he played the part of a Jihadist with unshakable convictions, but his anger political views more likely pushed him toward the Islamic State. Given that people act based on how they are treated by others, it makes more sense that the perpetrator acted, because he had grown increasingly disillusioned with the manner in which Muslims and those of Muslim ancestry were being mistreated.
Around a fifth of the world’s population is black. About a quarter of the world’s population of 7.4 billion is Muslim. In attempting to identify criminal and terrorist threats, racial profiling of blacks and Muslims is impractical. Over focusing on potential threats draws attention from actual crimes and criminals. People are more likely to act on the natural violent tendencies, which all human share, when they live in an environment where violence is acceptable and when they are mistreated by others. Targeting blacks and Muslims based on their race is a form of mistreatment that can only be expected to anger individuals who will eventually lash out against their tormentors. Consequently, racial profiling is impractical and counterproductive.
Read old posts