Column: To profile passengers or not to profile?

A Sept. 13 TIME/CNN survey found that 57 percent of adult Americans believe that in order to tighten airport security, it was acceptable to use profiling by age, race and gender to identify potentially suspicious passengers. Only 38 percent of those polled found profiling unacceptable. Compared to other countries around the world, U.S. airport security is very average. The top airports in Europe and Asia take more drastic measures to ensure safety than America does.

Israel?s Ben Gurion Airport, near Tel Aviv, has one of the most impressive records in the world, this despite the fact that fanatic Muslim enemies are never more than a stone?s throw away.

El Al, Israel?s national carrier, has never had one of its planes used as a deadly missile. In 1974, a TWA flight from Israel was blown up, but only after taking on passengers in Greece. Only one Israeli commercial airliner has ever been hijacked, and that was in 1968.

In 1970, over Holland, an armed, plainclothes sky marshal thwarted a hijack attempt. El Al has at least one such marshal aboard every flight. The reinforced steel cockpit doors on El Al carriers are strong enough to turn away a bullet and remain locked.

At Ben Gurion Airport, the Israelis use agents in addition to metal detectors and X-ray machines. The agents? jobs? To interrogate potential terrorists. “When did you book this flight? “Why are you taking this flight?” “What?s your occupation?”

Two agents will compare notes and look for inconsistencies. The process often takes more than 10 minutes. It can last for hours.

Israeli Jews barely get questioned. Foreign Jews are not hassled. Gentiles are looking at perhaps a half-hour grilling. Arabs, even Arab citizens of Israel, according to TIME writer Lisa Beyer, “get a full inquisition.”

Is such profiling ethical?

In the politically correct “land of the free and home of the brave,” we would never permit such profiling. Would we?

If you?re a male, you pay higher car insurance premiums than women. Why? Because car insurance companies are run by male-hating feminists? No. Because it has been statistically proven that men are a higher risk ? they speed more, drive drunk more, get in more accidents, etc. Not all men, mind you, but men in general. Profiling at its finest. Don?t start complaining, fellows. No one is listening.

So, do we, America, grill Arabs a little harder than Europeans and Jews? If you just dropped your mother off at the airport, would you want to know if the Muslim sitting next to her has ever been affiliated with a militant Islamic sect?

If an individual has nothing to conceal, why would they have an issue with a background check before entering our country or boarding one of our airlines?

School teachers are subjected to intense background checks. If they have committed a felony during their lifetime, they won?t enjoy the privilege of teaching our nation?s youth. What if the crime they committed was sexual assault 10 years ago and promise never to sexually assault someone again? What if they were falsely convicted?

Sorry. It?s not worth the risk.

“I was only a member of an Islamic jihad group as a youth. I no longer consider myself at war with America and its civilians. Please let me into your country.”

Sorry. You?re not worth the risk.

In a time of war, such as the present, certain measures must be taken in order to ensure our safety. The placement of Japanese Americans into interment camps following Japan?s unwarranted attack upon Pearl Harbor was not justified. Such acts should not be repeated. Harassing Muslims on the street is despicable and should not be tolerated.

However, numerous militant Muslim groups condone and practice terrorism. All the suspects of the Sept. 11 massacre are of Arabic descent. Radical Muslims were arrested for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. In 1998, members of bin Laden?s militant Islamic organization bombed the U.S. embassy in Kenya and killed hundreds. In 2000, the same sick individuals attacked the crew of the U.S.S. Cole while at a rest stop in Yemen.

Is it mere bigotry and paranoia to be concerned whether an Arab or Muslim has ties with evil, envious groups such as the ones connected with Osama bin Laden? The same man who, in 1998, told ABC News, “In today?s wars, there are no morals. We believe the worst thieves in the world today and the worst terrorists are the Americans. We do not have to differentiate between military or civilian. As far as we are concerned, they are all targets.”

Wade Tatangelo is a senior majoring in creative writing and is The Oracle Off Limits