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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/15/10

Jihad Blondes Prove Racial Profiling a Waste of Time

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We recently learned that a Philadelphia area woman who had dubbed herself "Jihad Jane" was indicted on charges of helping Islamic jihadists carry out attacks in Europe and Asia.

"Jane", whose real name is Colleen LaRose, is a 46-year-old woman with blonde hair and light skin -- not exactly most Americans' mental image of a terrorist.

A few days later, we learned that "Jihad Jamie" Paulin-Ramirez, a Colorado woman, also with blonde hair and light skin, had been detained on similar charges.

Will these cases finally convince the knee-jerk, race-obsessed folks on the far right (and their pliant followers) that terrorism is not synonymous with brown skin or an exotic accent?

Oh, never mind. That, unfortunately, will have to remain a rhetorical question.

Because these are not the first cases to prove my point.

I've written much over the years about the fact that ethnic profiling is both ineffective and counterproductive in the so-called "war on terror". It distracts law enforcement personnel from paying more attention to what people are doing than what they look like.

And, perhaps worse, it implies that people of a certain ethnic appearance are more prone to criminality than others.

To be realistic, we must remember that terrorists come in all colors and genders. We must remember that Jose Padilla, the so-called dirty bomber, is an Hispanic American. We must remember that Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, is a British citizen of West Indian ancestry. We must remember that Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, the would-be Christmas bomber, is a black man from Nigeria. We must remember that Adam Gadahn, an American al-Qaeda spokesman, is a white kid from California. We must remember that Timothy McVeigh, Eric Rudolph, and the Unabomber were all white Americans. And we must remember these new jihad blondes.

Fortunately, the authorities seem to understand this, as illustrated by the arrests of these individuals. Still, despite so many cases that back up my claim, a recent poll shows that a majority of Americans still think that ethnic profiling a good idea in law enforcement.

Or maybe this just shows that a majority of Americans really don't think much at all.

And maybe that's what the real terrorists are counting on.

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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
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