This Week's Securing Liberty Topic: Racial Profiling

This Week's Securing Liberty Topic: Racial Profiling

Defence policy underwent a fundamental shift following the collapse of the World Trade Centre in New York. 

Rather than wait for any future attack, the White House decided to implement a range of measures that would anticipate the threat of terrorism: The purpose of The Patriot Act was to extend surveillance powers; Guantanamo Bay is designed hold enemy combatants for indefinite periods - ‘enhanced interrogation’ is allegedly effective at gathering a lot of intelligence, quickly.

Another aspect of this ‘pro-active’ defence policy was the introduction of racial profiling.

Although it is illegal to target someone because of the colour of their skin, the police and other members of the security services are allowed to stop and search people they think are
responsible for criminal activity. As a result, minorities are often targeted, even though the majority may be entirely innocent.

Supporters of racial profiling argue that it has a significant impact on security - and that being trained to spot suspicious behaviour is part of keeping American citizens safe. They claim that causing small offence to some people is a small price to pay for ensuring the safety of everyone.

Critics argue, however, that racial profiling is breeding discontent - and does not increase security. It is an abuse of power that marginalizes American minorities - making them second class citizens in their own home.

Debating this issue involves discussing race, freedom and the rights of the many versus the rights of the few. 

Does racial profiling help to secure liberty, or does it signify that racism and scapegoating is still at the heart of our society?