Friday, August 25, 2006

Racial Profiling - a good thing !!

I just landed in the US. And the travel was no fun as usual. But that was expected. I had the oppurtunity of being frisked twice at the Frankfurt airport, thanks to a gate change. The blame is entirely mine, since i didnt bother to determine the correct gate on landing in Frankfurt, but simply assumed that the boarding pass had the right information. And Frankfurt is large and quite disorganized airport and so you have seperate sections in different terminals for flights leaving to the US. And the seperate sections are required because people going to the US require special screening and frisking.

That brings me to the topic in discussion. This morning driving into work, and listening to 'Democracy Now', i heard about the racial profiling techniques employed by DHS. After sometime, i felt this was a good thing. Of course for all the wrong reasons. It occurred to me that the US, the home to millions of people from around the world, who have come here looking for freedom, rights and democracy, now will suddenly feel how great life back home was. Funny !! I am not kidding here. Just think.

Apparently one of the questions the lady was asked was, "is Iraq better of now or under Saddam ?". Talk about trick questions. I think Clinton could have answered this clearly and nicely, starting with "it depends on what 'is' is".

The 'lady with the lamp' which has for more than a century symbolized America to the rest of the world, by attracting all and sundry from around the globe. The notion that US attracts people with 'open arms', is still true, but with a whole different meaning. Now people who are attracted here, have to open their arms wide, spread their legs too, while the metal detector slides over your body. If a full body massage was included, many people may not complain so much.

Then of course there is the DHS agent sitting in a special booth welcoming people who land here, with a tone meant to frighten you and make you feel very unwanted. This is not simply reserved for the first time visitors, but also for select frequent visitors, with the color of skin, country of origin, name etc, playing a big part. And then of course the most choicest welcoming committee, it appears is reserved for the citizens. Only their job again is to un-welcome you, into your own country.

This will stop. Eventually it has to. But it will be too late. The sad thing tho' it will continue in a different part of the world. In the next 20-30 years an officer in India or China will be screening all white people with special care and attention.

"I Was Made to Feel Like an Outsider in My Own Country" - Muslim-Americans Say Racial Profiling Led to Detention, Harassment at Airport


Cool Cancerian said...

Thats a very well written piece.

ravi said...

Arms wide open -- was that ever true? From the time of being coy in accepting Jews fleeing Hitler to today, US immigration policies shine only in comparison to Europe.

Here is an funny (and possibly true) event, that you might enjoy: among the political refugees fleeing to the US to avoid execution in Eastern Europe was an anarchist. Upon arriving at the US immigration desk, he was asked (among other questions) this one (which is also part of the citizenship questionnaire): "Do you advocate overthrowing the government by force or violence?", to which he answered tentatively after some puzzlement and thinking: "By force?". ;-)

While I am generally sympathetic towards the points you raise, I must say that my experience of DHS agents has been quite pleasantly different. They have all been courteous, chatted about events in the US while we were gone, etc.