Conservatives like Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly are defending the use of racial profiling as a legitimate tool to combat street crime in America. They assert that because young Black men commit these acts at a higher rate than other groups, it’s acceptable to specifically target them. They also contend that since the victims of violent crime are also typically Black (i.e. “Black on Black” crime), minority communities are the prime beneficiaries of such policies.
Two recent events have triggered this vigorous conservative defense of racial profiling: the public backlash against Florida’s Stand-Your-Ground law after the acquittal of George Zimmerman (who had been charged with 2nd degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin), and a federal judge’s ruling of New York City’s Stop-and-Frisk practices as unconstitutional.
What these conservatives conveniently ignore is that street crime is not the result of race or ethnicity, but to a host of socio-economic conditions of which poverty is the leading factor. They also prefer to skip around the constitutional provisions against unreasonable search and seizure (4th amendment), and equal protection under the law (14th amendment).
But, countering the likes of the narrow-minded Bill O’Reilly with these facts would be futile. The conservative opinion is agenda-driven, rigidly authoritarian, and highly selective in the application of principle. It is moved only through irrationality. Therefore, we shall oblige.
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Let’s use equivalent “logic” to racially profile White men:
From THE PERSONALITY PROFILE OF A SERIAL KILLER by Julietta Leung:
Approximately 90 percent of known serial killers are Caucasian males between the ages of 25 to 35. These people have high IQs ranging from 105 to 120. There are some, for example Ted Bundy, who even have an I.Q. of 140, who are considered to be geniuses (The Holmes Typology of Serial Murder, 1). Although these people are highly intelligent, they often have poor school performance and are socially inept. They prefer solitude to social environments. They also have trouble holding a job (Serial Killer Characteristics and Profile Definitions, 1).
So, shouldn’t all White men be stopped and psychoanalyzed to see if they fit this profile?
This graph shows that the percentage of rampage killings in the U.S. (a.k.a. “going postal,” e.g. Adam Peter Lanza, James Eagan Holmes, Jared Lee Loughner, etc.) committed by Whites (predominately by males) has dramatically increased in recent decades and which accounts for about 70% of all cases from 1980 to 2012.
So, shouldn’t all White men be stopped and evaluated to see if they fit the forensic definition of a rampage killer?
Violence against abortion providers, including murder and bombings (e.g. the assassination of Dr. George Tiller by Scott Roeder), is particularly evident in the U.S. This form of domestic terrorism is perpetrated almost exclusively by White men absorbed in Christian fundamentalism.
So, shouldn’t all White male Christian fundamentalists be stopped and criminally investigated?
The vast majority of homophobic criminal assault is perpetrated by male aggressors on male victims, and is connected to aggressive heterosexual machismo or male chauvinism. Theorists including Calvin Thomas and Judith Butler have suggested that homophobia can be rooted in an individual’s fear of being identified as gay. Homophobia in men is correlated with insecurity about masculinity. For this reason, allegedly homophobia is rampant in sports, and in the subculture of its supporters, that are considered stereotypically “male”, such as football and rugby.
Even though little data is available on the racial breakdown of homophobic criminals, shouldn’t all males (including White males) be stopped to determine whether they are “macho men” and therefore more likely to commit acts of violence against gays?
In America, White men were solely responsible for slavery, lynchings, segregation, the denial of civil rights through Jim Crow laws, and starting the Civil War (which killed over 600,000). Today, they are actively involved in anti-democratic voter suppression efforts against minorities and young people. Outside America, White men were solely responsible for the Holocaust, Apartheid, and causing the only two world wars in human history (which killed 20 million and 60 million, respectively).
That’s quite an appalling record of malevolence. Shouldn’t all White men be stopped and frisked for institutional malice?
Then, there is Wall Street – that cabal of privileged White male “banksters” who instigated the Great Recession, Great Depression, and just about every other economic misery thrust upon the American people by their empowerment of greed.
Shouldn’t all White men working for the Big Banks be stopped and probed for financial crimes?
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If you think racially profiling White men is absurd, you’re right. And if that’s wrong, then racially profiling Black men is also wrong. There can be no exceptions if America is to live up to its immortal declaration as a land where “all men are created equal.”
The conservative mindset epitomized by Bill O’Reilly is correct about one thing. Eviscerating civil rights protections as a function of law enforcement can make America safer. The streets of totalitarian countries are always safe. However, their people just can’t walk freely among them.