Racism and Borders: Representation, Repression, Resistance

By Jeff Shantz | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2. RACIAL PROFILING

Elvira Doghem-Rashid

“Racial profiling—the use of race or ethnic appearance as a factor in deciding
who merits police attention as a suspicious person—has undergone a sudden
and almost complete rehabilitation [since September 11].” (Harris 2002b, 8)

“Since September 11th, racial profiling is no longer the dirty phrase that it once
was.” (Sharma 2003, 299)

“Ignoring [that the 9/11 he hijackers were Arab or Middle Eastern men] amounted
to some kind of political correctness run amok in a time of great danger.” (Harris
2002b, 9)

These quotes highlight the ease with which the once widely accepted proposition that ethnic profiling as ineffective, divisive and discriminatory has crept back into conventional practice with little public outcry after the events of 9/11 shocked the world. It appears that the events that unfolded, and the danger posed by this new terrorist threat, have cloaked ethnic profiling in a veil of respectability.

While ethnic profiling in everyday policing matters is recognized as a pernicious form of discrimination, somehow the threat from terrorism is considered an exception to the rule. The exceptional nature of terrorism is illustrated by the fact that the UK government introduced the Terrorism Act (2000) which gave the police what the Government calls “extraordinary powers,” to be used in short-term limited operations to detect and stop terrorism. Section 44 (s44)

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