Racial Profiling Not Always Racist: Walter E. Williams

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Is racial profiling always a bad thing? Professor Walter E. Williams of George Mason University doesn’t think so. He points out examples where decisions are made based on an individual’s ethnicity, with little or no concern expressed for such discriminatory behavior. For instance, only one man out of 1,000 is at risk of getting breast cancer, while the danger for women is considerably higher (one out of eight). “Should doctors and medical insurance companies be prosecuted for the discriminatory practice of routine breast cancer screening for women but not for men?” asks Williams.

Many critics of racial profiling will argue it is acceptable for doctors to use race, ethnicity and sex as indicators to determine the risk of contracting disease—but that doing the same thing to stem criminal behavior is unjustified. Williams wonders if there really is a difference. “Surely, race and ethnicity are not perfect indicators of the risk of prostate cancer or hypertension; neither are they perfect indicators of criminal behavior,” he writes.
Then there are the instances when members of a particular group being racially profiled by law enforcement have no objection at all. In Washington, DC, African American cab drivers gladly embraced a policy pushed ten years ago to avoid picking up “dangerous looking” passengers, described as young black men wearing a “shirttail hanging down longer than his coat, baggy pants, unlaced tennis shoes.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Is Racial Profiling Racist? (by Walter E. Williams, Townhall)


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