And keep a close eye on those Macacans, too

The Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee endorses racial profiling at airport security checkpoints.

Published August 17, 2006 2:24PM (EDT)

Peter King, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, says it's time to put aside "political correctness" and start looking more closely at people of "Middle Eastern and South Asian" descent who try to fly the friendly skies.

As Newsday reports, King says that if terrorist threats are coming from "a particular group, I can understand why it would make sense to single them out for further questioning."

According to the Newsday report, King has said that while all Muslims aren't terrorists, all recent terrorists have been Muslims. That depends on what you mean by "terrorists" and "recent," we suppose: Muslims didn't bomb the Murrah building in Oklahoma City, and Muslims didn't shoot up Columbine High School.

But even if you accept King's premise that Muslims are responsible for all recent terrorism, it's not so clear how his plan would help anyway. Shoe bomber Richard Reid may be a Muslim, but the London-born son of an English mother and Jamaican father wouldn't have fit in King's racial profile. Nor, we'd guess, would a lot of these "homegrown" terrorists Alberto Gonzales says are "hidden and nurtured here in our neighborhoods." Maybe Transportation Security Administration contractors are supposed to start asking all airline passengers about their religious views before letting them go to their gates. But if the terrorists who want to hurt us are as wily and diabolical as we're always being told, will they really show up at LAX in hijab, proclaiming their faith in Allah to anyone who asks?

"No, ma'am, we're Mormon."

Indeed, even Gonzales seems to be skeptical of King's proposal. "I think that, you know, taking action against someone solely because of their race and solely because of their religion I think is problematic," the attorney general said Wednesday.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

MORE FROM Tim Grieve

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Peter King R-n.y. Terrorism