Sunday, February 26, 2006

Racial Paranoia

Within the small confines of the Tennessee blogging world and within this country and many many others, a debate is being held on the topics of race, racial profiling, bigotry, bias, prejudice and terrorism.

I noticed a post by Bob Krumm about an incident where he reported to the Secret Service he had seen some dudes of "middle-eastern" appearance in the Belle Meade community in middle Tennessee because they were lost and wanted to know how to find former v.p. Al Gore's home. It seem suspicious he says.

Another blogger, Chris, at My Quiet Life, responded with his own take on Bob's post, and said Bob was showing bigotry, pure and simple, in his reaction to the encounter in Belle Meade. Not unexpectedly, Bill Hobbs chimed in with some insults about Chris in the comments section on this debate at Nashville Is Talking, and R. Neal had some wit and humor to add in the comments on Chris' page.

Some mention is made in these discussions of the concerns about the sale of operations at numerous American ports to a company in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Dubai has been a major port for our Navy, certainly, and now Congress is examining the sale to determine if it should be approved or not. Much of the national and media debate about the sale has been of the "we don't want THEM owning operations in the U.S." (Them apparently meaning "Arabs" or perhaps "questionable allies".)

Let me be plain: there is a palpable paranoia in the U.S. and other countries about non-whites. While some see a value in being skeptical and suspicious about the presence and actions of non-whites, it blinds us to the more pertinent issue, which is that certain political agendas and those who share those political views have been and continue to threaten national security here and in many other countries as well.

So my question is - how can you tell by just looking at someone what their political beliefs might be? In this country, can you tell if someone belongs to the Republican or Democratic party? Or if they are members of neither?

I'm somewhat concerned that the notion of placing a usefulness on the concept of "racial profiling" may soon be exchanged for developing an approach to "political profiling." Arguments could perhaps be made that if our nation could protect it's citizens and security if we had the ability to define an individual's political views, and to be troubled if an individual has no specified political party affinities, then we should then create such a system of "political profiles."

The continuing emotion of Fear is making some very murky perceptions, and that we as both a nation and as an individual then base policy and personal decisions arising from those Fears is only going to make our perceptions murkier and encourage the value of Fear among us all.


  1. My major problem with this whole thing has nothing to do with the UAE. I didn't know until this whole Ports issue came up that the management of some of our ports was in the hands of a British company. There are plenty of qualified and unempoyed Americans who could do the job just as well, and we just keep outsourcing these jobs to foreign nations.

    I'm no isolationist, but come on! Our unemployment rate is ridiculous. We've got people with Master's Degrees who can't even get a job in this country, because all the jobs are going to foreign nations or illegal Mexican immigrants.

    And kindly refrain (though I am sure you probably seem a thoughtful and not racist fellow) from telling me how they will do jobs that Americans will not. An unemployed American with a family to feed will do a job, no matter what it is. Based on some of the jobs I have done for that very reason, I feel I'm slightly knowledgeable about this.

  2. A mmost excellent point, Wednesday! I have yet to see or read much about why no American company can effectively compete to buy port operations?

    Current Secretary of Treasury Snow, just happened to oversee the sale of international operations for the CSX railroad (where he had been CEO) to the same Dubai company wanting ownership of the currently disputed American ports, with a selling price of just over $1.15 billion in 2004.

    Is it simply that some CEOs, and now administration officials have more desire to make as much money as possible rather than help encourage and develop the American economy??

  3. The Krumm comments about turning in these young men, and the aftermath aside, I do agree with Wednesday to a degree. As for the port situation, my two questions are this:
    1. Why has this White House Administration used the "terrorist" safety card repeatedly and then set up a deal of this nature? I guess I should write "turrurrism" as that would be more accurate in the way Bush says it. Why is this Dubai company the best in managing this? And I don't really care if it's a company from the UAE or Great Britan honestly. It just seems to me a lost opportunity for American business.
    2. Why can't we use an American company to handle a project of this magnitude? Why hasn't this been addressed? I live in an area that has lost dozens of plants over the last decade, and people who were making a living wage here have either lost everything they had due to taking a job making less money or have moved to where the work is.
    And the latest AP story that says the White House will take a break as long as it doesn't impact the deal makes me question what in the world is really going on here?
    As for Krumm's actions and then posting it on his blog, I think his behavior over these two men was reactionary. The paranoia in this country about non-whites has got to stop. If I remember correctly, it was a white guy named Timothy McVeigh that bombed the federal building in Oklahoma, so Mr. Krumm's actions make me scratch my head.