In the Sept. 16 edition of The Post & Courier, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey defended his town against allegations that it has become a "sanctuary city" for illegal aliens. The mayor points out that it is the responsibility of the federal government to enforce our borders, not municipalities, and the way to make North Charleston a safer community is to ensure that residents are comfortable reporting crimes to the police.
Summey makes many good points.
But he also commits a major fallacy by making the following statement: "As a city, if we begin interrogating everyone that we believe may be an illegal alien, we step into racial profiling. Racial profiling is not only highly offensive to the accused, but it is unethical in any sense."
With all due respect to the mayor, racial profiling isn't only ethical — it is indispensable to basic law enforcement and public safety.
The term "racial profiling" is actually a very new term used to describe and disparage what earlier generations would have recognized as elementary police work. When a crime is committed police have long used basic suspect profiles based on a number of factors, race included. When investigating a rape, if police were instructed not to use "gender profiling," they would no longer be able to concentrate on male suspects over female suspects. When investigating an armed robbery, if police were instructed not to use "age profiling," they would no longer be able to concentrate on young male suspects over old men. It's not that women have never been rape perpetrators or old men have never held up banks — it's just that, by and large, these crimes are overwhelmingly committed by young men. Hunting where the ducks aren't is not only a waste of time, but it would make us less safe.
Not long ago, a Goose Creek police officer stopped and arrested two Middle Eastern-looking men near the Naval Weapons Station. These two men have now been indicted on explosives charges. Does anyone believe it was a mistake for the officer to take the suspects' ethnicity into account? Are Los Angeles police being racist when they notice a black or Latino gang member's skin color as much as their gang colors? When police are searching for serial killers, are they wrong to concentrate on white males, who overwhelmingly commit such crimes?
To be fair to Mayor Summey, he is only using the political language that has become mainstream, exemplified best in the days after 9/11, when everyone from President George W. Bush to then Attorney General John Ashcroft warned us about the evils of "racial profiling." Even the police themselves have been forced to bow down to political correctness, insisting that racial profiling is never employed, when privately they know it must be.
It has often been said that instead of politicians micromanaging our wars, we should let the military fight them. The same should be said of law enforcement. Does police abuse exist? Absolutely, we have all seen it on occasion, and such men should be held accountable, in much the same way Gen. David Petraeus recently had to answer to Congress on the military's progress. But we should let those who have the most experience in the field do their jobs the best they can. We owe them at least that.
The Charleston area is home to scores of illegal immigrants, the overwhelming majority of whom are Hispanic. If you know where to look, you can find them: the corner of Stall Road and Ashley Phosphate Road, Remount Road, and virtually every construction site in the Lowcountry. It is not "unethical" to notice this and do something about it. In fact, I would argue it is unethical not to.
Mayor Summey admits that the federal government isn't doing anything about the problem. He also admits it is not his problem. Legally, he's right. But neither was it the legal responsibility of the mayor of Hazelton, Pa., who stepped up to the plate to protect his city against illegal immigration when the federal government would not. And for now, North Charleston remains wide open, less safe and more dangerous, now that the city's leader has made clear he has no intention of demanding that the rule of law be enforced.
Catch Southern Avenger commentaries every Tuesday and Friday at 7:50 a.m. on the "Morning Buzz with Richard Todd" on 1250 AM WTMA.