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Thursday, August 20, 2009
Even More on Racial Profiling
Topic: Horowitz

Our dialogue with David Swindle at David Horowitz's Newsreal blog continues in an Aug. 13 post by Swindle, who reports Horowitz's response to us:

Treating all black people like potential predators is racist and we’re opposed to that. First look at the statistics of how many traffic stops for broken tail lights turn up criminals and then ask yourself whether the inconvenience isn’t worth it. Because I have an artificial hip I get searched every time I take a flight (which is often). That’s a greater inconvenience than having your car searched because you didn’t bother to fix your tail light. Now consider how many black citizens have been robbed, raped, murdered and become addicted to drugs because of leftists who oppose these simple and reasonable measures the police use to stop crime.

Horowitz is making some baseless blanket assertions there. First, why the assumption that any vehicle with a non-functional taillight is that way because the driver "didn't bother" to fix it? Second, why the assumption that "leftists who oppose ... simple and reasonable measures" are to blame for crime? Third, where is it written that getting stopped for a broken tail light equals automatically "having your car searched"?

Swindle continues:

First, of course, the crew member from Glenn Beck’s show who relayed the alleged incident of racial profiling isn’t going to mention if there was anything else about him that might make him fit the profile of a potential drug dealer. What does he know about offender profiling? Certainly not as much as the cop who stopped him, who assessed the situation and saw clues of possible criminal wrongdoing beyond a busted tail light.

But the fact of the matter is that in this case, neither Krepel nor Horowitz and myself know what happened. We weren’t there, we can only guess. And it’s here where the subject of ideology emerges. How do we make our guess at what happened? Why do Horowitz and I tend to lean more heavily toward the idea that the cop was just doing his job? Why does Krepel see a potential racist?

True, we are arguing about a incident about which we know very little, only the limited information the Beck crew member related during the Horowitz interview. But Swindle leaves out one important component: the crew member thought that the search was unwarranted. 

And this is where Horowitz's analogy about getting extra attention from airport security because of his artificial hip breaks down. Horowitz's inconvenience mainly applies in one specific situation: when he's boarding a plane. He can prepare for that eventuality and build time into his schedule to allow for it. The crew member, on the other hand, does not know what made the police officer search his car, and thus does not know what, if anything, he can do to lessen the suspicion. Indeed, the only possible contributing factor we're aware of is that he's black.

Further, I find it interesting that Horowitz publications such as NewsReal and FrontPageMag are so dedicated these days to denigrating the authority of elected officials whose politics they don't disagree with, yet offer deference to certain other authoritarian figures even if their motivation is in question, becuase they are "just doing their job." That's not a excuse Horowitz and Swindle would likely let any Obama administration official get away with.

Finally, Swindle writes:

So I return to Krepel with the question posed in my headline, which seems to be our primary fundamental disagreement: Is your average cop society’s sentinel or is he a racist authoritarian? Is racism within the law-enforcement community a systematic problem, or are there just a few bad apples? And if your answer is the latter, then why would you make the assumption that Beck’s crew member was likely the victim of one of those few?

In other words, which ideological approach is ultimately more accurate and more useful in 2009?

Why must it be either/or? I believe that the vast majority of police are doing the best job they can. I suspect that overt racism does not exist and is frowned upon within the ranks, and that any racism that does exist is by and large not consciously done and limited to situations such as what could be described as racial profiling.

I do, however, reserve the right to question the authority of anyone, law enforcement included, who hasn't earned it. And I don't have to resort to political ideology in the process.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:25 AM EDT

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