When profiling is OK

By Joseph Farah

The law enforcement authorities trying to find the single-shot killers of 10 people in and around Washington, D.C., apparently selected at random, have chosen not to release much information about the physical characteristics of the suspects.

While several witnesses to the shootings have described shooters as resembling Middle-Eastern men, officials have scrupulously avoided mentioning this in public. Off the record, some have told WorldNetDaily that authorities fear a “panic” could start over the possibility that the shootings are the work of Islamic terrorists.

How silly! Most people I talk with about the shootings already assume they are the work of Islamic terrorists.

The sniper task force is not likely to release a composite sketch of suspects – alternately described by witnesses, law enforcement lookouts and police-scanner chatter as “Hispanic,” “Middle-Eastern,” “olive-skinned” and “dark-skinned” – until all other suspects are ruled out.

Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose, who is leading the multi-jurisdictional investigation, said the task force has at least a “partial” description of suspects who he suggested are minorities. But he elected not to release the information, explaining it might “paint some group.”

In other words, your government doesn’t trust you with information that might actually assist in the capture of the killer or killers. You might find out the suspects are brown-skinned and launch a pogrom against all Hispanics and Middle-Eastern men in your neighborhood.

It would be profiling to admit that authorities have narrowed their investigation to darker-skinned men. And we all know profiling is bad.

But profiling is not always bad. In fact, another kind of profiling has been going on in this very case since the beginning. There is no reluctance on the part of authorities to profile various kinds of white trucks and vans apparently used by the suspects.

Apparently no one in government is concerned about the possibility of ugly Americans launching a Krystalnacht-style campaign against white van owners. But what’s the difference?

Why is it that we are so fearful about casting aspersions or inconveniencing brown-skinned men in the desperate pursuit of this serial killer or killers, but we give not a thought to inconveniencing white truck and van owners?

People are dying.

In fact, I will bet you that white van owners are getting far more dirty and suspicious looks right now in the D.C. area than are brown-skinned men – even among those of us who realize the suspects are presumed to be olive-skinned.

Profiling car owners is OK. Profiling skin complexions is not. Why?

There’s a fundamental problem with this thinking. Unless you’re Michael Jackson, you can’t change your skin color. You can, however, quite easily, change the color of your car or truck.

Is the object to catch the killer or killers? Or is it not to offend anyone? This is the problem with political correctness. It’s going to be the death of us all.

Not only are government officials deliberately withholding information about the suspects and their appearances, some news organizations are inexplicably withholding the information from their audiences because they, too, do not trust the public – or, perhaps, because they do not want to be accused of racial profiling.

It’s important to remind Americans – particularly those in government and the media – that we are at war.

It’s not a war we started. It’s a war that was launched against us. It was a sneak attack of unprecedented and epic proportions. It’s a war that is continuing.

Do we want to win? Or do we want to play fair? Do we want to kick butt? Or do we want to be nice guys? Do we want to make sure this never happens to us again? Or do we want to invite the next attack?

These are the questions Americans – particularly those in government and the media – need to consider when they withhold information from the public. If and when this killer or killers is caught, it’s probably going to be because of cooperation from the public. It’s time to trust the public. It’s time to treat Americans like grown-ups. It’s time to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.