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Racial Profiling Can Save Innocent Lives

June 10, 2002

Re "Barred Travelers Charge 4 Airlines With Race Bias," June 5: The discrimination suits by the five men who were barred from flying post 9/11 are nearly meritless. If the men fit the profile of the hijackers, why is it discrimination? What is ridiculous is the searching of grandmothers and infants--and persons in between--who have no criteria to indicate they are terrorists but are still randomly selected.

The taking of penknives, crochet hooks, nail clippers, medals of honor and the like is ridiculous and downright stupid. These small items, which I suppose could be utilized as weapons, are so unlikely to be used for hijacking and are causing more angst when commandeered from their owners than the threat warrants.

Why not take effective measures to prevent another incident rather than making up insufficient and inane rules? Why not utilize racial profiling, if that is the best method of catching criminals? Some innocents will be singled out by mistake, but what about all the innocent people being hassled who don't fit the profile?

Tesa Becica

Van Nuys

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Since 9/11, air travel has certainly changed. In this context, the case of the five men who were refused passage and are now suing the airlines will be worth watching.

Consider this: A 72-year-old woman in a wheelchair is searched, wanded and required to take off her shoes for inspection before boarding a plane for Chicago. The woman is my wife. She did not object to the search, although it caused her some pain. Our return flight was delayed, and her wheelchair was not there when we arrived. We waited for it, and the pilot, conscientious, waited with us. We struck up a conversation. The subject inevitably turned to security. The pilot observed that everywhere else in the world the authorities know who the likely suspects are and concentrate on them. In this country we are afraid to offend anyone, so we avoid profiling. As a result, we penalize seniors in wheelchairs and risk letting real culprits get through.

Statistics prove that potential danger doesn't come from Buddhists, Baptists, Bahais or Hasidim. It comes from Muslims. Emergencies call for emergency measures.

If those measures caused hardship for five innocent passengers, the passengers should receive some compensation. But the measures themselves are vital, regardless of the inconvenience and frustration they cause.

Rabbi Baruch Cohon

Los Angeles

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Why are Americans so willing to give up their civil liberties to fight terrorism, but refuse to give up their SUVs? Just asking.

Frances Longmire

Los Angeles

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein's comment that, to prevent terrorism, "one isn't going to look for blond Norwegians" (quoted in Robert Scheer's June 4 commentary) deserves a historic reminder: Vidkun Quisling, who helped Hitler prepare for the conquest of Norway. His name became synonymous with the word "traitor." Racial profiling was bad enough for Europe; it would be a disaster in our country.

Paul H. Bonart

Huntington Beach

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