Profiling

You + Me = Human.  Photo by Callen Harty.

You + Me = Human. Photo by Callen Harty.

Someone I know posted this online today along with a screed about how profiling is justified and that liberals and pacifists (like me) are as guilty of murder as “the Muslims” by not agreeing with the logic of their racism. The person who posted it actually said, “any and all Muslims are potential murderers of you and your family.” I can’t imagine living in such fear of other people and classifying an entire group of people based on the actions of a handful. On this post there are a whopping 17 incidents perpetrated by “Muslim males” listed over the course of 45 years.

“Do You Remember?
“1. In 1968, Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed…By a Muslim male.
“2. In 1972 at the Munich Olympics, athletes were kidnapped and massacred…By Muslim males.
“3. In 1972 a Pan Am 747 was hijacked and eventually diverted to an Arab country where a fuse was lit on final approach and it was blown up shortly after landing…By Muslim males.
“4. In 1973 a Pan Am 707 was destroyed in Rome, with 33 people killed, when it was attacked with grenades…By Muslim males.
“5. In 1979, the US embassy in Iran was taken over…By Muslim males.
“6. During the 1980’s a number of Americans were kidnapped in Lebanon…By Muslim males.
“7. In 1983, the US Marine barracks in Beirut was blown up…By Muslim males.
“8. In 1985, the cruise ship Achille Lauro was hijacked and a 70 year old American passenger was murdered and thrown overboard in his wheelchair…By Muslim males.
“9. In 1985, TWA flight 847 was hijacked at Athens, and a US Navy diver trying to rescue passengers was murdered…By Muslim males.
“10. In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed…By Muslim males.
“11. In 1993, the World Trade Center was bombed the first time…By Muslim males.
“12. In 1998, the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed…By Muslim males.
“13. On 9/11/01, four airliners were hijacked; two were used as missiles to take down the World Trade Centers and of the remaining two, one crashed into the US Pentagon,
and the other was diverted and crashed by the passengers. Thousands of people were killed…By Muslim males.
“14. In 2002, the United States and Canada and others fought a war in Afghanistan…Against Muslim males.
“15. In 2002, reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and beheaded by—You guessed it—Muslim males.
“No, I really don’t see a pattern here to justify profiling, do you? These 15 incidents are merely coincidence. So, to ensure we Americans/Canadians never offend anyone, particularly fanatics intent on killing us, airport security screeners will no longer be allowed to profile certain people. Absolutely No Profiling!
“They must conduct random searches of 80-year-old women, little kids, airline pilots with proper identification, secret agents who are members of the President’s security detail, 85-year old Congressmen with metal hips, and Medal of Honor winner and former Governor Joe Foss, but………….. Leave Muslim Males alone lest they be guilty of profiling.
“Have the American/Canadian People completely lost their Minds, or just their Power of Reason?
“Each opportunity that you have to send it to a friend or media outlet……..do it!
“Just the facts……better add (and continue to add….)
“16. In 2012 … US Consulate in Benghazi…..Muslim males.
“17. In 2013 … Boston marathon bombers….Muslim males.”

Of course Internet memes like this are used to justify political opinions, racism, and plenty of other things. They appeal to raw instincts and base emotions, without allowing the time to process or to put things in context. So to put things in context I have created my own list of horrible acts:
Do you Remember?
In 1963 President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed . . . by a white male (as were Presidents Abraham Lincoln in 1865, James Garfield in 1881, William McKinley in 1901, not to mention multiple attempts on Ronald Reagan and others—by white males).
Also in 1963 four young girls were killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama—a church—in what was considered an act of racial “terrorism” perpetrated by—you guessed it—white males.
In 1966 seventeen people were killed and thirty-two wounded by a gunman in the bell tower at the University of Texas. The killer was Charles Whitman, a white male.
In 1968 civil rights and peace activist Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated . . . by a white male.
In 1969 several people (at least seven or eight) were murdered by the followers of Charles Manson (a white male). His followers were white males and white females.
In 1978 more than 900 people died by suicide at the urging of their leader, the Reverend Jim Jones, a white male.
Between 1978 and 1991 at least 17 men and boys were killed by Jeffrey Dahmer, a white male.
In 1984 a gunman opened fire at a McDonald’s in California. He killed 21 and wounded 19. He was a white male.
In 1989 five people were killed and many others wounded in a school shooting by Patrick Purdy, a white male who hated Asians. Those killed were four of Cambodian descent and one of Vietnamese descent.
In 1995 a bomb rocked the federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, including nineteen very young children in a domestic terrorism incident perpetrated by two white males.
Between 1996 and 1998 two people were killed and more than 150 injured by bombs set off by anti-abortion and anti-gay activist Eric Rudolph—wait for it—a white male.
In 1999 the nation was shocked by a massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado. 13 died. A couple dozen were injured. They were shot by two young white males.
In 2011 a man killed 77 people in two separate attacks in one day in Norway, the first with a bomb, the second with guns on an island that was inhabited mostly by children. He was a white male.
In 2012 six people were killed and several others injured at a temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin when a white supremacist (male) started shooting right before the weekly service.
Also in 2012 was the Sandy Hook shooting. The gunman was a white male.
No, I really don’t see a pattern here to justify profiling. Do you?
Oh, and let’s not forget Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and other white male world leaders who have killed massive numbers of their own citizens.
The point is, you can take any group of people—gay, Asian, white, black, Muslim, Catholic, etc.—and find incidents where members of that group committed heinous acts. If you are racist you can then extrapolate from those examples that all members of that group behave the same way and deserve our enmity. But you would be wrong. Why don’t we create lists of the good that people do? Why don’t we try to see beyond generalizations and find ways to get to know each other better and make the world a better place for all of us? That is the way I want to move through the world. So no, I do not see justification for profiling. I see it as racist generalizing that does nothing to move our world forward in a positive way. You can call me a liberal, pacifist, or whatever you want. I know you will—because all you can do is generalize and hate those you don’t understand.

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About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Both are available on Amazon.com, Kindle, or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he has been an actor, writer, and director since 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events.
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3 Responses to Profiling

  1. Klinkbein says:

    I also thought about some of the shootings by white males. Funny thing is, these are also easy to profile. Not only by their skin color, though. For instance, nearly all of them come from abusive childhoods, broken homes, and dysfunctional families. Everyone is quick to judge ‘traditional family values’ as racist, puritan, old fashioned. I believe many of the problems in society would be solved overnight if every young man had a strong father, a loving mother, and a belief in something bigger than themselves (i.e. God). Many of these young men didn’t have that so they don’t treat women with respect, they don’t value life, and they think they should decide who lives and dies.

  2. marcea0k says:

    By their definition those who use terror as a weapon want our fear to change our habits and our society. Profiling as described in the post that was shared by Callen is strictly based on physical appearance. Too many equate Arabic as Muslim, when there are as many faith traditions in the Arabic region as we have in the US. I agree with the previous comment that fear too often sweeps away all reason, but we can recognize when our minds are spiraling in fear and calm ourselves. As the Dalai Lama pointed out in his recent visit to Madison, all religious traditions have ethical values in common. And whether someone was raised reading a Bible, a Quran, the Torah, or Buddhist Sutras (to name only four faith traditions) people should not be declared “murderers” (either potential or probable) based on the actions of individuals or groups twisting words in an ancient text to suit their own ambitions. Those who trade in terror do so based on their mistaken notion of what Americans say, do or believe. If we then turn and do the same to others, then we become what we fear, purveyors of terror – psychologically speaking.

  3. Darlene Harbick says:

    I’m all for profiling, as long as it’s based on actions rather than race or gender or religion. If a person buys a plane ticet at the last minute, using cash, that’s suspicious. If a person drops a package and keeps going, that’s suspicious. Pick any group by race or gender or religion and you can find plenty of instances of murder perpetrated, but few thinking people believe that’s justification for any suspicion. Trouble is, too many people today seem to be hard wired for fear and don’t stop to reason things out before pointing fingers.

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