The American Civil Liberties Union has obtained a document from the Detroit branch of the Federal Bureau of Investigation under the Freedom of Information Act which they claim is proof of racial profiling against Arab Americans. It says: "...because Michigan has (a) large Middle Eastern and Muslim population, it is prime territory for attempted radicalization,". Hassan Jaber, head of ACCESS, an Arab American social services organization, asserts that the memo "sheds a disturbing spotlight on practices that should have been rendered to the dustbin of history,". In the meantime, the FBI says that, "certain terrorist and criminal groups target particular ethnic and geographic communities for victimization and/or recruitment purposes. This reality must be taken into account."
No one likes the feeling of being singled out for anything with a negative connotation. Arab Americans are certainly right to be concerned with such tactics if, and only if, they are the targets of systematic and unwarranted police investigations. If all you have against someone is ethnic identity, then you would obviously be violating someone's rights in detaining them in any way.
But on the issue of profiling in itself, we seem to have a bit of paranoia going in two directions. On the one hand, with potential incidents such as what we are discussing here or with such as a DWB, Driving While Black, and other racially charged accusations, we cannot see any rational grounds for the defense of profiling. Yet when a serial killer is being sought, no one seems to mind that single, loner white males in their twenties, thirties, and forties living in the area of the violence are singled out.
Indeed, profiling in the manner which directs us towards true felons is apparently well employed by the police forces in our country. Further, television shows and movies are made all the time where a 'profiler' is readily used to hunt a criminal. On the surface, under such circumstances, the practice doesn't seem all that wrong. If it is nothing save a tool which truly aids the police in apprehending serious criminals then, if used in conjunction with other generally accepted police procedures, it doesn't appear any real violation of a person's rights.
Therein likely exists the difference. If all there is to a 'random' police stop or questioning by a government agent is skin color or gender or whatever other qualifier you may care to add here, then someone's rights have been violated. But if applied in sequence with several other legitimate policing factors, then we have no quarrel. It may be a fine line we draw. Yet it may be the only line we have.