Saturday, September 11, 2010

To Profile, Or Not...

I keep my 9/11 remembrances pretty much to myself. The images and feelings are still there, deep in my memory, to be recalled on certain occasions. It's not just an anniversary thing, this horrific event. No more than Pearl Harbor was merely December 7 to our parents and grandparents. It was a life-changing thing, and it has shaped my perspective on life — and the tenuous nature of life — forever. I don't need September 11 to roll around every year in order to remember what it meant, and means, to me.

But thinking about it a little extra today did shunt my mental engine off onto a spur, if you will. I found myself pondering the idea of profiling, and how this nation can possibly believe that profiling is some great evil that creates targets where none exist.

Truth to tell, this train of thought began not so much because of 9/11, but rather because my youngest daughter has been watching Disney's "Peter Pan" the past couple of days. It's one of my favorites from Disney's Golden Age. Good story; terrific animation; well written and directed. But it would never play in today's politically correct universe. In fact, when the studio finally wrote a follow-up to the original and decided to use Wendy's daughter Jane, they brought back nearly all the denizens of Never Land except for the Indians. That disappointed me, even if I understood why they couldn't. In today's world of hyper-sensitivity to all things diverse, any attempted caricature of an indigenous culture would bring down the wrath of every tribal council, race-mongering hypocrite, and civil rights grievance group you could possibly imagine.

Likewise, Disney's "Song of the South," which has some wonderful music to accompany the delightful animations that featured Br'er Rabbit and the rest, will likely never again see the light of day. Not even as a special release from "the Vault." Too demeaning of black culture, that one is.

Folks have tried to tell me that I couldn't possibly know what it means to be profiled. To be denied the life I want merely because of the color of my skin. Yet I am profiled nearly every day in some way, shape, or fashion, by numerous people who feel that my own white skin has somehow magically entitled me to a life of carefree self-indulgence.

The sad truth is that this perception is a fallacy. At work they hold me back; not because I'm white but because I do not hold a college degree. It is the last bastion of prejudice to which Corporate America can cling today without incurring the wrath of Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton. While many around me have taken the plunge late in life to return to school and get that diploma, circumstances in my life have precluded my doing the same. For these circumstances I am not bitter. Life is what it is, and I made choices many years ago that I was, and still am, willing to live with. However, that does not stop my incredulity at the idea that my lack of a degree makes me in any way less valuable to the company than many of the educated idiots people that leapfrog over guys like me to enter the ranks of management.

There are similar prejudices at play in my choice of religion. If I were still tweeting (gave it up as a worthless hobby), I would tweet something to the effect that "Islam may very well be the second most misunderstood religion in the world today." Every day I read analysis after analysis and report after report that all claim to understand completely what Islam must mean to every one of its followers. Yet I can't shake the feeling that all their analyses may only apply to a relatively small percentage of its adherents. Most believers and followers of Islam would likely love to be left completely alone and wish never to bother anyone else, yet because of the actions of the demonic few, we paint them all with the same wide brush.

If my own religion weren't even more misunderstood than Islam, I'd probably feel sorrier for them. (If I tell you that I am a Latter-day Saint, does that answer the question of which religion is more misunderstood?) We may be at war with Islamic nations, but not because they adhere to Islam. (That may be why they are at war with us, but that's beside the point I'm making here.) Yet this country drove my ancestors out of the country because of their religious beliefs and were never adverse to slaughtering us for refusing to renounce our prophet. Even those "enemy combatants" at Gitmo have never been asked to renounce Islam.

So, yes, I understand a thing or two about profiling. True, anyone who profiles me is not likely to deport me. I have nowhere to go. I was born here, can prove it, and besides, England wouldn't know what to do with a conservative like me. They'd kick me back across the pond faster than they can down a pint of Guinness'. But have I been "denied" things because of who I am or choices that I have made? Most certainly.

The way I see it, kids who wear gang colors and pants that hang down around their ankles are literally flashing a giant marquee on Times Square that says "PROFILE ME." Want to live in this country but refuse to learn English? I reserve the right to believe that you might not belong here legally. In other words, I profile. It happens every day.

Interestingly enough, there is a relatively new market next door. "Wholesome Choice" it calls itself. It features exotic foods that you are less likely to find at your local supermarket from parts of the world that you are even less likely to have visited. Spices, sauces, even certain fruits and vegetables, all from middle eastern or southeast asian cultures. I have shopped there on occasion and found everyone who works there to be very pleasant people. If I despise the store for any reason, it is because they are so busy that I have difficulty finding a parking space anywhere within half a city block of my barber shop. Or Baskin-Robbins. Otherwise, I have no problem with the store or its employees. Likewise, because I happen to speak (some) Spanish, I am conversant with many Latinos who live and work nearby. Fine people, all. If I have profiled them, at least I choose to keep it to myself.

But can I stop profiling them? Not likely.

The day I stop is perhaps the very day that I see someone who should have attracted my attention. Someone who may try to cause the next life-changing event in this country. And for that reason alone I cannot, and will not, stop profiling.


Anonymous said...

Hello dear friend…
I send you a message, to think about this for a minute…
Thank you !!!!
Liberal democracy is the utmost of aim of species that the U.S claims to have and claims that it has a wholly liberal democratic government. Does the end of the world and history conclude in the U.S? Is everything entirely for the U.S and what kind of Liberal democracy is this that doesn’t even allow anyone to reopen and research about the Holocaust case?! And according to this case and religious lie, every year hundreds of Muslims are sentenced to death. But this so-called liberal government allows any kind of insult to the holy book of Quran. And under the names of liberalism and freedom of speech, and with the aid of its police, offends more than one billion Muslims around the world.
The insult to the holy book of Quran and violating the law of respecting other’s beliefs and rights which was carried out by the same people who claim to have created this law, brought a great grief and sorrow to the liberals of the world. Isn’t this the same government that argues for omanism and all its moral and cultural theories are base on the human being?! So with this claim what happens to the freedom of right of more than one billion Muslims around the world and respecting their beliefs and religion?! Don’t these Muslims have the right to live?!
This is the Book(the Quran), about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah -

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Woody said...

Not to make light of what you've said here, but there are a few logical holes in your arguments that assume facts not in evidence.

1. "Liberal democracy" is a contradiction in terms. If we have a "liberal" democracy today, it's only because liberals are in power. In truth, the republican form of government that we have is by nature more conservative in that it has checks and balances that hopefully prevent any one political creed from taking complete control of all facets of our government. Consider this a work in progress.

2. This country does not deny anyone the opportunity to "reopen and research" the Holocaust. Followers of Islam need to get over this. The Holocaust happened. Millions died. Denying it happened, or diminishing the numbers of dead won't make it any less of an historical fact.

3. Yes, the Quran is insulted in this country. So are the Bible, the Torah, and my own favorite, the Book of Mormon. There isn't a day that goes by that someone isn't looking for ways to insult our scriptures or our religions. Yet this "liberal democracy" guarantees everyone the absolute right to say anything they like. What it does not guarantee is the absolute right never to be offended by anyone, ever. No one has that power; not even the Quran. Not in this country.

4. Do Muslims have a right to live? Absolutely. But strapping bombs to women and sending them on suicide missions to foreign countries is a funny way of guaranteeing that right.