Posted by on June 03, 2011 in Blog
U.S. Representative Paul C. Broun (R-GA), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, has repeatedly and publicly urged the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to profile "Arabian looking" people and individuals wearing "Arabian dress" at airport security checkpoints. Yes, the "Arabian" is not a typo.
Congressman Broun first made the comments at a committee hearing in February of this year, and again in May on C-SPAN "Washington Journal." Broun referenced a personal experience at a security checkpoint where he said he witnessed a grandma and child being patted down, while an "Arabian looking" individual was not. At a committee hearing, Broun complained that "We’ve got to profile these folks!”
Mr. Broun has been told on countless occasions - by a number of law enforcement and counter-terrorism experts including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano - that profiling is an ineffective means of preventing attacks. However, despite countless corrections, and a number of briefings on the merits of random searches at security checkpoints, he remains steadfast in his opinion that "Arabian" people should be singled out.
In a response to Broun's statements, AAI president Jim Zogby and chair George Salem sent a letter to Mr. Broun's office requesting he apologize and retract his statements. "Your statements are offensive and dangerously uninformed", they wrote. "Your comments were disrespectful to your constituents and to the hundreds of thousands of Arab American public servants—teachers, soldiers, police officers, and indeed elected officials such as yourself."
Zogby and Salem also wrote an Op-Ed, which was published by the Atlanta Banner-Herald stating that, "Given his [Rep. Broun's] attendance at hearings where the inadequacies of profiling were stated plainly, we must conclude Broun is not misinformed, but rather that he chooses to insist on failed, ineffectual programs and policies for some ulterior motive - be it bigotry, pandering or both."
Whether Broun is indeed purposely playing to racist anxieties, or simply unwilling to hear the experts on this, his statements are advocating for bad policy and run directly counter to American values.
AAI has called on Arab Americans in Georgia and across the country to respond to Broun's comments by writing their own letters to his offices in Washington and Georgia.
Find out how you can take action.
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