Earlier this week, the Obama administration announced new racial profiling guidelines. Eric Holder has called these guidelines a “major and important step forward to ensure effective policing.” Critics, however, see things differently, arguing the guidelines should include local law enforcement, while others complained that it was “loosely drafted.”
Others have cited the exemptions included for certain federal agencies as being problematic. According to The Latin Post:
“Holder’s new guidelines prohibit law enforcement from conducting ‘routine or spontaneous’ decisions based on ethnicity, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religion or sexual orientation ‘to any degree” unless the “listed characteristics apply to a suspect description.’
Civil rights groups have commended on the DOJ’s new policies, but noted concerns regarding exemptions for individuals screened at the border and airports. Holder’s memorandum stated, ‘This Guidance does not apply to Federal non-law enforcement personnel, including U.S. military, intelligence, or diplomatic personnel, and their activities. In addition, this Guidance does not apply to interdiction activities in the vicinity of the border, or to protective, inspection, or screening activities.’
Specifically, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) could continue to profile individuals based on ethnicity, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religion or sexual orientation.”
You can view the revisions to “Guidance For Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Regarding The Use Of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, National Origin, Religion, Sexual Orientation, Or Gender Identity” here.
Enter Neal Boortz. Boortz took a few minutes away from retirement to present us with this jewel of wisdom:
We’re going to talk about elephants. Not the GOP kind of elephant, but actual big-eared lumbering wild African elephants (loxodonta Africana) living in Africa, as African elephants are predisposed to do.
These particular elephants are living in the Amboseli National Park in Kenya, where they have been the subjects of some rather extensive studies by people who extensively study elephants. I learned of the results of these studies reading an article by Virginia Morell of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Let’s get to the (elephant) meat of this study.
The elephants in question are living in close proximity to two different African tribes; the Maasai and the Kamba. The men from these tribes differ in dress, language, and, more importantly, how they treat the elephants. Maasai men sometimes kill the elephants. It seems the Maasai don’t particularly appreciate the elephants attacking Maasai tribesmen and their cows. The Kamba men, on the other hand, are gentle farmers who live among, but do not threaten, the elephants. Perhaps they don’t own cows.
Please understand that the Maasai men do not attack the elephants every time they encounter one, and some Maasai men, perhaps the majority, will never find cause to try to kill an elephant. The elephants know, however, that a greater threat exists from Maasai than from Kamba.
So, how does this affect elephant behavior?
Maasai men like to wear red robes. Kamba men do not. So when the elephants see men in red robes approaching they react defensively. Usually they flee, or they will form defensive perimeters around their young. When the Kamba approach the elephants seem to be completely unconcerned and just go about their business.
The elephants don’t just notice the difference in dress. They’re also tuned into to differences in human dialect. The Maasai and Kamba have distinctive vocal and dialect differences … at least distinctive enough that these elephants can recognize them. The researchers played a recordings of Maasai and Kamba men saying “Look, look over there. A group of elephants is coming.” When the elephants heard the recordings of the Kamba men they took notice but exhibited no untoward fear or anxiety. When they heard the voices of the Maasai men the reaction was different. The elephants fled and once again moved to protect their young.”
Read the rest of the article, entitled Racist Elephants here. Simply brilliant in its simplicity. And, it’s effective.
As you may have suspected, elephants aren’t the only ones who’ve got impressive profiling skills. Terrorists haven’t penetrated Ben Gurion International Airport’s security since 1972. There have been threats and close calls but the Israeli airport owes its successful security record to the type of prudent profiling used.
The U.S. Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) treats all travelers roughly the same (at least that’s what its guidelines state), with the exceptions being those on its terrorist watch list. Additional checks are in order if something suspicious—such as a 4-year-old little girl–comes up during the routine checks. Ben Gurion security, on the other hand, separates travelers into two groups before they ever get to an x-ray machine…
Read all about that here.
The act of profiling need not stir up all the controversy that it does. The example involving elephants, provided by Neal Boortz, and the method used by security at Ben Gurion International Airport are efficient, common sense strategies for detecting potential threats. And, most importantly they are strategies that work.