Thursday, August 16, 2007

Will NYPD terrorism report lead to profiling?

Via NEW YORK, NY August 16, 2007 —A new intelligence assessment from the NYPD finds the threat from "homegrown" terrorists is growing rapidly. WNYC's Bob Hennelly has more.

REPORTER: The NYPD analysis is based in a detailed review of several high profile terrorist attacks and plots that originated from self styled jihadist cells in places like the US, Canada, Australia and Europe. While the US conspiracies did not actualize, in London and Madrid they had catastrophic consequences.

The report says unifying factors in people drawn to the movement are young male Muslims, most likely middle class and alienated from their parents and looking for a purpose in life. The NYPD says the Internet is a virtual terrorist support network and is providing the same kind of affirmation would be terrorists might get in the middle east.

The report is being roundly criticized by Civil Liberties and Arab American Rights groups as a potential tool for profiling.

On NPR today one of the guests on the Brian Lehrer show--Jack Riley, Associate Director of RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment, and Acting Director of RAND Center on Quality Policing, and Richard Falkenrath, the NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Counter Terrorism--helped explain the details. And denied that the report as such would lead law enforcement to profiling individuals as terrorists.

The 90-page document in online for you to read at NYPD report: Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat

The Brian Lehrer show on the topic can be listened to here.



AnimeFreak40K said...

YAY! I gets to be the first to throw pocket-change at this one!

In follow up to your link:

No, I do not think this necessarily changes the point of our discussion. Also, No, I do not mind migrating the whole thing here.

Also, I am very well familiar with Godwin's Law. It is most amusing and frighteningly enough true XD

Ok, onto serious matters.

When it comes to racial profiling (or any profiling for that matter), those who argue against it tend to remain blind to the facts and statistics as well as why the profiling begins in the first place.

Let me cite an example:
Blacks have a general reputation as being lazy, uneducated, ill-mannered, violent troublemakers. When folks see a black man, they expect to be accosted verbally or physically in any number of ways. This could range from so-called 'Ebonics' to being forced to hear 'Gangsta Rap' to being mugged or worse. Please note, I absolutly REFUSE to call them African-Americans. 99% of the population was born in the US and has been established for generations. Their ties to Africa are no closer than mine are to Ireland. Therefore, they are, by definition, Americans. Nothing more, nothing less.

This is a fear and apprehension that people have when they meet a black man...and he could be the quietest, most considerate individual alive. Is this racial profiling? Yes. Yes it is. Is it fair? No, it is not. Justified? In part...yes.

You see, this sort of mind-set and mentality would not exist of the black man if there was not some measure of truth to it. Take a look at the statistics - the hard numbers of violent crimes. Who is at the top? Blacks. Listen to the music, how it is rife with violence, drugs and worse. Walk down the street and listen to how different people communicate with each other. Most whites will speak plain American, Hispanics will do the same or Spanish...same with those of oriental descent. Blacks though, they say things like "Who dat is?" or "Where you be?" Yes, we understand what it means...but the sound is horrible and borken. It sounds more like an uneducated bumpkin from the back hills who only got close enough to just look at a school...much less attend one.

People by and pick up on these sorts of things. This creates an an impression for that group of people as a whole. Even if that impression based on the vast minority, and the impression itself is generally undeserved. It is still present and given.

To me, this is neither right nor wrong. It is not fair...but it is not morally or ethically wrong. People by default make assumptions of groups of people and things based on experiences and acquired knowledge. This is natural. Given the information, observations, etc. it is perfectly natural to feel that black people behave a certain way. Even if that belief is wrong...given what is observed, it is not wholly unjustified.

I can hear the "But AF40K, that is racist!". No. No it is not. It is neither racisit nro prejudice to look at the cold hard facts and aknowledge them. What IS racist and prejudice is to take those facts and let them be the primary and/or only determining factor in how I act with blacks. It is not racisim or prejudice to expect and be prepared for the worst, but hope for the best and STILL extend that hand in friendship.

This applies with the Muslim community as well. When I watch the news, read the news paper, surf the internet and generally gather information about the world around me, I see all sorts of mindless violence being perpetuated by Muslims. In specific, young to middle-aged male Muslims.

I do not know why they do what they do. Frankly...I really don't care or want to know. What I DO know is that they are acting as the representitive to their race and religion. They are painting the picture of how they are to me. With every bombing, broken law, behedding and sneak-attack, I get a better idea of just how these people are.

This immediatly makes me suspect of any and all darker skinned males that appear to be between the ages of 16 and 40 (especially if they simply appear to be Muslim) are secretly contemplating some form of nefarious act of terror. Is it profiling? Yes. Is it fair to the individual? No. Is this a wrong assessment? I don't know. Take a look at the news and current events and you tell me.

In my opinion, there is absolutly nothing wrong with profilling, racial or otherwise. It is what is done with that profiling and the actions and/or reacions taken based off of it that I have issues with.

To me, everyone gets an equal chance. This is regardless of Race, Creed, Color, Orientation or anything else. I may have some preconcieved notions about you based on cliches, media presence, etc., and I may even behave a little guarded as well...but that does not mean that I am unwilling to give someone the opportunity to show me how they are better then the hype.

It is not wrong to suspect every Muslim male between the agest of 16 and 40 of being a terrorist and collaborating with one. It is not wrong to think that every black male between the ages of 15-25 is a gangster and will act accordingly. It is not wrong to think that every older white man is committing adultry with his secretary and embezzling thousands of dollars from their company, or that any young pasty-skinned kid with long hair is a l337 haxxor.

What IS wrong is to treat those people based only on those preconceptions and profiling instead of individual merit.

That said, the Civil LIberties groups need to open their eyes and look at the facts. The Arab-American Rigths groups need to do the exact same thing and go even further. Instead of bitching about how they are being profiled...they NEED to start looking at WHY they are being profiled and do something to change the reputation that their demographic group has.

the teach said...

Anime, you say: Blacks have a general reputation as being etc. etc.

Anime, Blacks DO NOT HAVE A GENERAL REPUTATION as being etc.
DUMB PEOPLE think of them that way! People who have no direct experience with African Americans think of them that way. People who have been taught by other racist, uneducated people think of them that way.

Anime, the way prejudice develops is that people find it much EASIER to "pigeonhole" other people. IT IS MUCH HARDER to consider individuals as individuals rather than grouping them in with STEREOTYPES learned about from the media, or from racist, hateful people.

BTW aren't you an Irish-American? I am an Irish-American. Both sets of my grandparents came from Ireland. But yes I am certainly an AMERICAN first but if people want to call themselves African-American or Asian-American, or Italian-American why do you care?

Okay, I'm not crazy about rap music especially the more violent kind but that's it. I don't condemn a whole group of people for all the rap music out there. Why do you?
And by the way how do you feel about Eminem? He's white and a rapper and promotes violence and misogeny and homophobia by his lyrics.

I have met black men and women without fear and apprehension. I talk to black men and women without fear and apprehension. I have a biracial grand-nephew who is adorable and I change his diaper without fear and apprehension.

And do you mean to tell me that you don't realize that there is certain jargon developed among groups that only that group uses that gives them a sense of comfort and solidarity? And that if you or I were allowed into that group we'd talk like that when with that group but not if we were in another place, at work, or with other people? My niece in law has a Trinidadian patter that she uses with her family and my nephew (he's learned it over time) but not with me (I'm learning it)or her white in-laws. I love the sound of it and hope to learn it and participate.
And BTW when the Trinidadians and we get together they don't use that patter out of respect for us who don't know the patter. I admire that in them.

Now I know you said this: It is neither racisit nro prejudice to look at the cold hard facts and aknowledge them. What IS racist and prejudice is to take those facts and let them be the primary and/or only determining factor in how I act with blacks. It is not racisim or prejudice to expect and be prepared for the worst, but hope for the best and STILL extend that hand in friendship.

So, Anime, you CAN treat people equally and fairly, and extend the hand of friendship, you only THINK racist things. How about EXPECTING THE BEST and HOPING there is no worst. That would work. And I bet you'd be surprised how often there is nothing worst.

Oh Anime, just drop all that crap you learned somewhere re African-Americans and start with a clean slate. You have every potential to be open and accepting and embracing of people different than you.

Can this be the first and last discussion we have about African-Americans?

In my opinion the NYPD report should not lead to racial profiling.
At least as far as the Executive summary leads me to believe.

But if law enforcement officers target ONLY "dark-skinned males between the ages of 16-40" would have missed Timothy McVeigh (as indeed they did) at the federal building in Oklahoma. So the information in the NYPD report is important but USING the info alone for profiling would be wrong.

Anime, there is a family of Muslims living across the street from me. Two brothers, their wives and children in a two-family house. The two brothers are dark-skinned probably in the late 30s early 40s. Should I be watching them? Or should I be talking to the wives and kids (as I do) and learning that they go to the local public school and that they are going to wear costumes on Halloween? Should I accept the cucumber one of the men brought to me at the end of last summer? Should I be treating them just like I treat the Italian-American couple next door? Yup.

If the Italian-American man next door came home from work and I saw he was carrying a gun in each hand and he went into his house, I would call the cops. If the Muslim men came home carrying guns I would call the cops.

But I don't call the cops simply because the men across the street are Muslims. That's racial profiling.

Okay, Anime, that's it for now.

the teach said...

So Anime, where are you?

AnimeFreak40K said...


I had a very nice reply...but teh Intarnetwebs seems to have ate it.

I will go through and try to recreate my response...or at least get as close as I can.

But first, I want to make sure this post goes through OK.

the teach said...

Oh, Anime, was having a lot of trouble this morning but now it seems to be ok. I'm crying because you had a good reply and it's gone lost in cyberspace never to be seen again...unless you know someone on the Geek Squad... Looking forward to your reply...:)

AnimeFreak40K said...

Ok, lets try this again. My initial reply was sent the day after your first one, but it got eaten. I think some LOLCats were on my Internets Clogging my tubes...

Anyway, let me see if I can come up with something that is reasonable...or cool. Or at least reasonably cool.

Ok...I think you took my example and thougths about race a little out of context. This is understandable as I may not have been very clear on the matter overall.

One thing I DO want to make clear is that all that stuff I put up? I do not agree with it. I think it is wrong. So why did I put it up there? I shall tell you:

You see, I have this habit (I do not necessarily think it is a bad one) where I take a look at a given situation and I look at the cold, hard facts of reality. I observe the reactions of not just one person, but several people, the media and neutral observations over several years. I do not (or try at any rate) allow my own personal thoughts, feelings or opinons cloud these observations. These observations are pretty much expressed as "This is how the world works." instead of "AF40K's opinon" or "The world according to AF40K."

So let me revisit what I was trying to say by bringing up blacks in a very brief nutshell:

Blacks have a certain reputuation about them that is undeserved for the vast majority of their race. This reputation was established over teh ears and in recent times due to a wide variety of factors (Gangs, Violent crimes, etc). Based on this reputation alone, nonblacks tend to behave a certain way around blacks just because they do not know anything but this reputation.

That is NOT my opinion. That is fact based on observations of other people's reactions, the media, etc.

Is that reputation wrong? Yes. I know, knew, work with and worked with a LOT of black folks. And for the most part they are quite amiable. I don't mind them and they are generally a good group of people.

Is it unwarrented? Do they deserve that reputation? for about 90% (give or take), it is unwarrented and undeserved. But the vast minority gets the attention so there is some truth to the reputation. It is simply a matter where the loud, vocal minority acts as the representitives for everyone, while the quiet majority just sits back and accepts it.

It should also be noted that Blacks are NOT alone in receiving unfair reputations based on skin color or ethnicity. Whites, Hispanics, Asians and others receive it too. wrap up this particular arc, I want to make it clear that I am NOT a racist (I still can't wrap my head around the concept). I am about as equal-opportunity as you can get. Everyone gets a fair shake with me. My opinons are determined by individual merit, are usually kept to myself (unless asked) and kept seperate from my observations.

My observations of how the world works tells me one thing, but my opinions is a lot less cold and cynical than my world view. So please try to understand that most of my comments were less of condemnation and more like the cold, heartless analytical observation of the world at large.

You said: "And do you mean to tell me that you don't realize that there is certain jargon developed among groups that only that group uses that gives them a sense of comfort and solidarity? And that if you or I were allowed into that group we'd talk like that when with that group but not if we were in another place, at work, or with other people?"

Ahh, I did not dig against the jargon other than making the observation. I DO however agree with that particular assessment (though I did not say as such until now). This is not because it is jargon, but rather the banter of people who are either uneducated or have eschewed their eduation. Your example of using your niece is a bit different in that she is speaking her native language. I am referring to the destruction and butchery of the English language. And when a black man blasts his own people for this AND their activity, it makes ME sit up and take notice. Below is a rant from Bill Cosby:

I hardly think it is racism to be on your guard (even if it is just a little bit) when meeting new people. Like I said: I give everyone an equal chance. No one person is better than anybody else in my eyes. Nobody. I hope for the best, but expect the worst because that is the most effeciant way to deal with the world. I really wish there was no worst, but my analytical mind tells me that that is an impossiblity.

And you mistake this for racisim. It isn't. It is typical, standard prejudice (by the strict definition of the word - Pre Judging without more information). You could also call it mild paranoia too if you want to use a word that is less likely to upset someone. I WOULD agree if those thoughts came into my mind based on race are, indeed, racist thoughts. But they aren't. Those thoughts are reserved for everybody.

Ok...I think I have beaten that to death well enough. Again, I do apologize if my initial comments seemed...well...racist and bigoted. They aren't. Just me commenting about the world as it is.

Oh, and to answer your question: No. I am NOT an Irish-American. My Irish ancestor came to the US around the time of the Civil War. Both my parents were born in the United States, so I am an American. Only one of my grandparents was not born in America, and he was from Bulgaria - he had to fight, hide, sneak and escape from that country when the Communists rolled in to take over in early WWII.

To throw that hyphen in there just takes that away of what it means to be an American. Given my heritage I could be any one of the following: Bulgarian-American, Irish-American, Dutch-American, English-American, Native American. Sorry, too many hyphens and subgroups. I am an American and I will never claim to be anything but.

Frankly, I really don't care that much about what other people do. I start taking issues with the hyphenization when folks decide that they need to seperate themselves. That they feel the desire to say "I am not an American. I am [insert descriptor here]-American". That is what the hypen says to me, and that is what I take issue with.

Ok...for real this time, let's shift gears...

The potential exists for racial profiling based on the report. But you are going to have that anyway. Also, is it REALLY racial profiling when 90% of a particular crime (in this case terrorist activities) are commited by Arab-Americans/Americans with Arabic heritage? There are numbers to back that up you know. Is it really profiling when 90% of these terrorist activities are commited by Muslims?

It only becomes profiling when you start watching those groups of people more than you watch anyone else.

Tim McVeigh was missed becasue the security personnel did not know what to look for, and reactions were insufficent to counter the actions he took. It should be noted that had he tried that today, after 9-11, he would have failed.

As far as your neighbors are concerned, well...all I can say is that yes, you should accept them as they are. After all, they are people just like you are. If I were in your shoes, I would be doing the same thing...though I may be inclined to be observant of suspicious activity, but that is only because the Army and my job makes me a little paranoid.

the teach said...

I'm glad you set me straight, Anime. I think you have to be real careful these days to be completely clear about what YOU believe versus what you think people in general think.

I also believe whites' attitude toward African-American has changed quite a bit over the last 40-50 years. (And it's about time!)

Bill Cosby's negative-assessment beliefs are praised and condemned by the black community. Some feel his negative talk arms racists so that they can say "See one of their own thinks what I think."

You know I'm Irish and I might call some Irishmen I know "donkeys" or "micks", Or say somethings about Irishmen I don't like, but no one NOT of Irish descent better say such negative things.

Okay on to other things...:)

MY parents were born here too. But when I was young my grandmothers and aunts were very Irish and I even have a cousin who lives in Ireland. She visits me from time to time. We celebrated St. Patrick's day and I never developed any difficulty with being Irish and American. But I admit today I feel much more American than ever I have . I'm sure it has to do with my greater awareness of what's happening in our country and in politics.

So when I go to another country which I have often, I say I'm American or I'm from the United States, proudly, mind you. :)

Now for racial profiling. Yes this report or any other might make some people prone to prejudice against Muslims to use this report to profile young Muslim men here in America.

You ask: is it REALLY racial profiling when 90% of a particular crime (in this case terrorist activities) are commited by Arab-Americans/Americans with Arabic heritage?

Are most terrorist activities in the US done by Arab-Americans? Wasn't 9/11 (the biggest terrorist event in the US in recent years) perpetrated by Saudis and other Arab nationalities? Not Arab-Americans? Most terrorists attacks against Americans have been on foreign soil not on American soil.

So maybe this NYPD report would lead to racial profiling. I just read the Executive summary and it definitely talks about young Muslim men here in this country and why they turn to terrorism and how the form cells, and how they become jihadists. Reading the report you would think America is rife with Muslim cells of terrorists learning jihad and planning terrorist acts. I don't know if that's true...

I think this report will have law enforcement officers watching any one or two swarthy, dark skinned man in a car when maybe the local bank is being robbed a block away by two Italian single women with babies in each arm.

I have to read more and look into this more deeply. Boy talking like this with you is making me smarter and smarter...At least I think! :)

AnimeFreak40K said...

Don't worry about it. I know that sometimes the point I am trying to make is sometimes lost in how I am trying to make it. I also know that I do not tend to look at the world the same way most Americans do as well. That could be because of my traveling around the world or just because I tend to pay attention to what is going on around me at a larger scale, or I have a very wide perspective. *shrug*

Now, I will agree that the view of other races has changed for the better in the last 40-50 years. And I think that is a great improvement. However, there is still a LONG way to go too.

On the bit about Cosby: Yeah, I know that there are folks that are critical of his views and feel that it gives the racists ammunition. On the surface, they are correct in that statement. However, a lot of folks that think that way, are themselves racists as well. These are also people who want to put the blame on whites for their perdiciments rather than taking responsibility for their own actions.

What I mean is, that although blacks are, for whatever reason, end up in the ghettos and are given the short end of the stick...but that is absolutly NO excuse to submit to that particular lot. They would rather sit back and bitch, whine, complain and 'blame the white man' than take a look at themselves and correct those problems themselves.

Am I saying that racisim/white supremicy (no matter how fleeting and subtle it is or has been) is not a factor in the current situation? Not at all. It is. However, it is not the only factor - and that is what Bill was illustrating. The opportunities are there to succeed and to shine, but those opportunities will not just fall into your lap on a silver platter. You have to work for it. And if you have to work harder than others of a different ethnicity to make it...then so be it. The rewards will be enjoyed that much more.

I think that aspect of Bill's statements have been lost becasue there are too many people who do not want to take at least responsibility for their situation and correct it.

Interestingly enough, with my mixted heritage, I could throw out all sorts of racial slurs and claim that "they are my people so it is OK". To me that is complete, and utter bullshit (excuse my language - but this sort of stuff gets me riled up). Here is how I look at stuff like this: If blacks can call each other'nigga', hispanics can call each other 'esse', italians can call each other 'whops' or 'degos' and [insert ethnic group here] can call each other [insert appropriate racial slur here], then I can too.

That said, I do not refer to anyone by any racial slurs. It is wrong no matter what context it is used in. Period. I find it VERY hypocritical that members of any given ethnic group thinks it is ok to refer to each other by a racial slur, while nobody else can...and AF40K hates hypocrasy.

You want to go a long way to elimiating racial prejudices and strife in this nation? Either make it acceptable to refer to anyone by their racial slur or make all racial slurs unacceptable. All or none, you can't have both and expect there to be harmony.

You are correct, most terrorist acts against Americans do not take place in the United States (though whether or not it is on American soil is debatable given the nature of Embasies and Military Bases). This is why Government employees, both domestic and overseas, have quarterly Terrorist Awareness Training. They are instructed in what to look for and how to make themselves a 'hard target'.

As far as the ethnicities of the 9-11 terrorists go...yeah, I know they were mostly Saudis...what I do NOT know is if they had acquired citizenship or if they were just on long-term visas. However, my question still stands: There is documented proof that most of the terrorist activity that occurs in the United States (and overseas against Americans and in general) are committed by Arabs/Muslims/Those of Arabic or middle-eastern descent.

It is not racial profiling to be aware of those numbers and understand that if something is going to happen they are likely going to be behind it. However, it IS racial profiling to assume that just because someone fits the demographic that they are planning something.

The report does NOT have to lead to profiling though. If it is kept in a neutral voice and setting and used as an awareness tool, then things are fine.

But you are correct, it is entirely possible that the cops will be watching the Arab-lookging young man expecting him to do something and completely ignore the 2 white females committing a crime.

And that is why the awareness that things can happen must be raised among everyone. Not just law-enforcement officials.

Mary, I do not think that I am making you smarter. If I am, then umm...I am in shock. I prefer to think about it as stirring the pot and making you think about things from a perspective that you would normally not think about or consider.

That said, I know that between you and Stormbear, you guys get me to think a lot about stuff too...

That is my reasons for posting things that I do...I like to get people to think. That is also the reason why I read and stay active like this...because you guys make ME think too.

And thinking is a very good thing, for there is far too little of that going on.

the teach said...

You say: Here is how I look at stuff like this: If blacks can call each other'nigga', hispanics can call each other 'esse', italians can call each other 'whops' or 'degos' and [insert ethnic group here] can call each other [insert appropriate racial slur here], then I can too.

Anime, You ABSOLUTELY SHOULDN"T write such racial epithets and certainly not here on this PUBLIC blog!!! You say you don't use them and I do believe you but DON"T write them here, okay?

And Anime, it's NOT hypocritical for groups to use an inside jargon amongst themselves (which might include racial slurs) but YOU CAN"T USE THEM NOR CAN I. That's just the way it is!!

You write: it IS racial profiling to assume that just because someone fits the demographic that they are planning something. You're right! I think I said something of the sort in my last comment.

Well, Anime, maybe this report will just fade into the background. After all how many people are going to read it anyway. The Executive summary I read seemed neutral but they talked about MUSLIMS and MUSLIMS ONLY.

Okay I'm off to check out what you and Stormbear are saying on "Town Called Dobson."

the teach said...

Anime, check out my posts for today Aug. 24. You might find them interesting.

AnimeFreak40K said...

About the use of racial epithets: You are correct, I do not use them if I can help it. Period. And you are also correct in that I should not use them...and normally I don't. And while I do refrain from using such words from a racial standpoint...I do not see anything wrong with using in a neutral context (as I did above). I was not blasting anybody, and was, in fact quoting others.

I will respect your wishes and refrain from such language in the future.

However, let me ask you this:

Why is it permissible for people of a certain racial custom to refer to each other in that way and not for others? The answer of "You just can't because that is how it is" is an insufficent answer and a cop-out. It lacks explination, logic or understanding. Until someone can provide me with a reasonable, logical reason, then it will continue to be an unreasonable and hypocritcal request. I do not and will not accept it ever. Period.

MaryT, you must understand that I am an equal-opportunist by the very definition of the concept: Everyone is equal in my eyes. Nobody is better or worse than anyone else. Period. What is good for one man is good for ALL of humanity. What is good for the goose, is good for the gander. No expections. Ever. Period. End of story. That said, if it is OK for a black person to refer to another as 'the N-Word', then I can to. But since I 'cannot' do that...then they should not either.

And I would like to point out that the NAACP has also decided that the use of 'the N-Word' is wrong, no matter who is using it to speak to whom (about a month or 2 back the made a big deal about 'burying 'the N-Word' for good). So, from the NAACP it is considered poor form, racist and just plain wrong for one black person to refer to another as 'the N-Word'. My opinion? It's about bloody time! I am glad they have been able to make that level of progress.

That automatically solve all the problems? Of course not...but it IS a step in the right direction.

And no, I am not suggesting that folks are not allowed to use inside jargon. They want to do that, that is fine. But pick something that is neither racist, offensive and permissible by 'outsiders' to use as well.

Yeah, I did notice that the document seemed to pick out Muslims and Muslims only...and the ONLY defense I can think of is this: It is encouraging Americans in the United States to be aware of Religious Extremists that operate domestically. It is easy to pick out Muslims because they are the only religious extreamists that do so.

Oh sure, you have your Bible-Thumping Fundy Neo-Cons. They are religious extremists...but they do not go around blowing themselves up in buildings, bombing trains or busses or running planes (or other vehicles) into buildings. Only Muslims do that.

So how do you write a neutral document to be aware of religious extreamist activity when there is only one religion that does that sort of thing? You don't. You can't. Fortunatly, not all Muslims are of Middle-Eastern descent. There are plenty of Whites, Blacks, Hispanics and Islanders who also follow Islam and its teachings that exist in the United States.