On June 19, the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called for racial profiling as a preventative measure during a phone interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation.” He made that comment a week after the infamous Orlando shooting that had caused 49 deaths and 53 casualties. The day after the shooting, Trump had vowed to deny Muslim immigrants permission to enter the US, claiming it would keep the country safer. While the Orlando shooter was indeed Muslim, he had also been born in the US.
Two days later, Van Jones of CNN delivered a rebuttal, firmly disagreeing with the notion that racially profiling Muslims would help prevent mass shootings. He pointed out that the vast majority of mass shootings are committed by young white men.
The magazine “Mother Jones” compiled data regarding mass shootings in the United States since 1982. A staggering 64 percent of the shootings were committed by white people. Blacks committed 16 percent of the shootings, and Asians committed 9 percent. The other 7 percent of the killings were committed by Latinos, Native Americans and “Other.” Only two women appeared in the study. The other killers were all male.
On CNN, Jones continued, “You are seven times more likely to be killed by a right wing extremist — a racist or an anti-government nutjob — seven times more likely than a Muslim.” He also noted that a proposition of profiling young white men, the most likely attackers, would go nowhere.
Also on June 19, a team of security experts met to discuss possible ways of preventing terrorist attacks like the one in Orlando. Like Jones, Michael Morell, a former director of the CIA, said that that profiling Muslims would be worse than useless: “When you start talking about broad surveillance against Muslims, when you start talking about going into mosques, when you start talking about shutting down mosques, you make it more difficult for the Muslim community to want to reach out and have a relationship with law enforcement,”
In other words, racial profiling would only alienate Muslims who might otherwise have stepped forward and reported a community member who did seem to be developing dangerous or violent thought patterns. Policies based on racist fears would accomplish nothing useful.