Societal norms have undergone drastic change as universality of rights and freedoms have slowly emerged on several fronts. With the abolishment of slavery several decades ago, most countries have come to acknowledge the importance of human rights and equality. In the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks, however, efforts in this regard have taken a step back. In the altered security landscape of the post 9/11 era, widespread racial profiling has emerged. Nonetheless it presents itself as an ineffective and unnecessary policing instrument, in the ‘War against Terror”, as it undermines civil liberties and alienates minority populations rather than eliminating security threats. Skeptic’s have argued that the environment fostered by such action is the very same in which these terrorists emerge; and as such act as a counter-productive instrument in neutralizing security threats. Racial profiling has been ineffective or unnecessary in three regards. First, it undermines the civil liberties of individuals being targeted; second, it alienates these people and increases their risk of affirming the ways of terrorists; finally, it fails to reduce security threats by ignoring other potential profiles that are just as likely to engage in terrorist activities. It will be shown that racial profiling, despite the position of critics remains unsuccessful. Following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the pentagon, scholars and policy makers suggested the racial profiling of Arabs and Muslims as means towards greater national security (Bahdi 294). Racial profiling is “deploying the apparatus of law enforcement from brief interrogations on the street to search, seizures, and arrests – on the basis of generalizations about race” (Ellman 306). Simply put, it is a generalization that certain races engage in specific deviant behaviour or crimes. The US decision, without evidence, that Arabs and Muslims fit the general profile of terrorists is considered racial profiling. Although, it may not be immediately evident, such actions undermine the freedom to rights and liberties that are guaranteed under the constitutions of both Canada and the United States as it is seen as a form of discrimination. By singling out certain ethnicities and races, it undermines the equality that is guaranteed to all individuals.
The ‘War against Terror’ has inadvertently created circumstances in which the maintenance of security has taken precedence over the rights and freedoms of individuals. The practice of racial profiling is an unconstitutional deprivation of equal protection that has played a significant role in undermining civil liberties that has limited the freedom and equality of Arabs and Muslims in particular. Although it is difficult to argue that increased security is not needed in post 9/11 North America; it is much more difficult to argue that certain races and ethnicities based on one or few events should be deprived of the rights and freedoms that continue to be enjoyed by other races and ethnicities. In Canada, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the freedom from discrimination based on ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds. Similarly, the Fourteenth Amendment of the US constitution offers similar protections in which requires all citizens be treated equally under the law. Critics, however, have argued that national interest trumps individual freedoms and liberties as it concerns the greater good. Essentially, it becomes the whole against a few. As in the United States, “the central question in Canada’s War against Terrorism, is whether Arabs and Muslims should be treated as more likely to threaten Canada or indeed global security” (Bahdi 296). The general consensus based on the actions of Canada and the US immediately after 9/11 would suggest it is. Critics argue that it is easier and much more efficient to target specific groups then subject everyone to higher scrutiny. This, however, more or less, is the definition...
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