Since the 9/11 terroristic attacks, and even a little earlier than that, the religion of Islam has been controversial in the United States.
Some Americans have a negative view of the religion as a whole, mainly due to the recent incidents involving radical Islam, and to several terrorist attacks that have been carried out by “Muslim” perpetrators in the name of Islam.
There have been attempts to portray the Islamic religion in a more positive light. In the days immediately after the 9/11 attacks, then-President George W. Bush spoke about the importance of Muslims to American society and the need for Muslims to be treated with respect.
However, the issue of Islamophobia still remains large today, with the United States even being called an “islamophobic nation” due to the recent travel ban signed by President Trump.
The ban on Muslims, and specifically profiling Muslims, has become the subject of great debate, with defenders claiming that the “hunt for Islamic terrorism starts by looking at Muslims”, and with opponents claiming that this profiling is wrong and unethical.
This debate came up today and left me pondering the issue for the rest of the day.
I was in my Ethics class today when the issue of the recent travel ban came up. After we discussed the ban, our teacher then switched the topic around a bit, and began to ask us of the ethics behind Islamic profiling. The direct question dealt with the issue of “additionally searching Muslims at airports”, and pretty soon, a very heated debate ensued.
One student defended this action, stating that “if you want to catch Islamic terrorists, naturally you are going to have to look for Muslims, just as if you are looking for members of the Mafia, you go to an Italian neighbourhood.”
I was quick to point out the ethical violations of this problem, most specifically referencing the “KKK” and how the United States doesn’t profile white Christians, even though the KKK is a white supremacist group.
The debate seemed to quell towards the end of the period, but it brought up an interesting question in my mind: Is Islamophobia in the United States warranted?
While some would argue that Islamaphobia is justified in view of recent terrorist attacks in the U.S. and elsewhere, I disagree.
First, in regard to the Islamic ban, America is a country built on diverse cultures, immigrants, and many races. Each country or ethnicity has its share of bad apples, so by banning Islamic immigration because of a few radical terrorists, the ban sets a dangerous precedent. It bans a certain group of people from entering the United States due to the actions of a few bad apples.
Not to mention, there are millions of Muslim-Americans who not only contribute greatly to this country, but also help fight for it. Army Captain Humayun Khan (who’s family made headlines due to a speech made at the Democratic Convention, and their feud with Trump) is a great example of a Muslim-America who died protecting the nation.
Also, the ban is not applied equally and fairly. For example, the IRA, the notorious Irish terrorist organization, was known for violent incidents. However, the United States never put a ban on immigrants from Ireland. This proves that the ban is unfair and wrong. People are letting anger and fear take over their rational thinking.
Now, when it comes to profiling, specifically searching in airports, some argue that this type of profiling would be warranted and would reduce terror attacks. However, upon a closer examination, this argument is flawed.
First, what does a Muslim look like? How does one know if someone is a Muslim? Is it the stereotypical view of a Muslim which includes a turban and a long beard?
If so, then the method is entirely flawed. It is racist to assume a person’s religion because of the way he or she looks. Further, even if we can overcome this racism, finding who to search would be a problem. There are African-Americans and Asians who are Muslim. Muslims do not always fit the stereotypical view of what a Muslim looks like. Yet because they don’t fit the stereotypical view of Muslims, they most likely would not be searched. Similarly, there could be Arabs who are Christian or Buddhist or Hindu. Is it right to search people based solely on the way they look?
This isn’t the first time that the United States has had to deal with a radical sector of a certain segment of its population. This also shouldn’t be the first time it treats a certain group differently because of the actions of a few.