December 11, 2004

In defense of Underperformin' Norman Mineta:

My airline expert writes:

I still do not see what is so irrational about what the no-racial-profiling policy has, in practice, turned out to be in air travel. In practice, it means we don't check only Arabs. The TSA, airport and, especially, the airline people, are not crazy or suicidal. They are going to check very closely any unknown Arab passenger. And then they are going to do a thorough check on a randomly selected old DAR lady in a wheel chair or a retired Marine general with a walker to 1) avoid having it look like racial profiling and 2) prevent the Arab from feeling too bad about the search. As in, "see, we're all in this together."

Given the choices, is that so bad? You get the security benefit of the Arab check, but maintain some atmosphere of fairness and shared minor sacrifice. We do have an interest in not unnecessarily ticking off the law-abiding Arabs. There is an efficiency cost, but, hell, it's a government program. There is the annoyed big-shot cost, but a lot of them need a little annoyance.

There are a lot of other places, for example drug traffic on I-95, where trying to avoid looking for the obvious ethnic suspects does impose big and unnecessary costs, in either money or lost arrests. But air travel is so unique, in its various aspects, that I think a little benign dishonesty is not so intolerable.

By the way, the popular phrase "Underperformin' Norman Mineta" was invented a couple of years ago by John Derbyshire, but the Bush Administration appears to be impervious to witticisms, as shown by Bush's re-appointment of Mineta.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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