Can the Japanese-Internment be applied to the post-9/11 discrimination?

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Racial Profiling in the movie “Crash”

 

 

 

Here are a few clips that depict racial profiling from the movie Crash, by director Paul Haggis. The movie was released in 2004, and contains multiple story lines of families of different races and backgrounds–white, Latino, African-American, Muslim, Asian, etc. I feel that the general arch of this movie contextualizes the opposing sides of racial profiling in the United States. On its most basic level, the movie is about the six-degrees of separation for people, as it portrays the intersecting lives of multiple families. In the beginning of the movie, the majority of the characters are very racist, and seem to have little or no redeeming qualities. For example, Sandra Bullock’s character racially profiles two African-Americans who end up stealing her car at gunpoint, and she later profiles the Latino man who is fixing her house locks as a gangbanger. The Latino locksmith is actually a caring family man, who only wants to protect his young daughter from the evils of the world that she will grow up in. There is also a young, white cop, played by Ryan Phillippe, who seems to be above the inherent racism and sexism of his partner. However, by the end of the movie, most of the seemingly racist characters like Sandra Bullock have a redeeming quality, while the seemingly good character, like Ryan Phillippe, makes a horrible decision that centers on racial profiling, shooting an innocent and unarmed black man.

The movie seems to say that since racial profiling is so ingrained in our society, it will be hard to eradicate it entirely. As Phillippe’s shooting shows, even the people that don’t seem racist might have a moment of weakness, and sometimes that moment of weakness can have fatal consequences. Yet the movie can also be interpreted with a more positive tone. By the end, Sandra Bullock gains an appreciation for her Latino housemaid that she didn’t have before, and many of the other main characters who made seemed bad are able to redeem their past mistakes.

I would definitely recommend watching this movie if you haven’t already. Some of the blatant racism can be jarring the first time you watch it, but I think that it allows viewers to meditate deeply on pertinent race issues that have to be improved upon in the future.

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Racial Profiling or Not?: NYPD

This article on CNN.com relates to the compare/contrast post that we plan on completing soon for the blog. The article seems to be written from the perspective that racial profiling is bad, but presents examples that can help better flesh out the arguments for and against racial profiling in the United States.

As the article states, “…New York police are allowed to stop and question anyone on the street if they have a reasonable suspicion that the person was involved in illegal activity, is about to commit a crime or is carrying a gun.” (CNN) The New York Police Department is allowed to “stop, question, and frisk” anyone who they deem suspicious and capable of (or already committing) a crime. The article adds, “Close to 700,000 of the searches took place in New York last year, a record number.” (CNN)

The police argue that this “frisking” policy takes lots of guns off the streets, and thus theoretically limits the violence in the area. New York City Council Member Peter Vallone Jr. says, “’Stop, question and frisk’ takes about 800 guns a year off the streets.” (CNN) I think that this practice is overstepping the boundaries of being a free citizen.

While the number of police “frisk” searches have greatly increased in the last few years, the number of shootings in the city has stayed roughly the same. According to the article, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly “testified that 96% of shooting victims in New York are people of color and therefore, stopping and questioning suspicious individuals in minority communities is justified. He said about half of the stops actually result in a “limited pat-down” and only 9% result in a more thorough search.” (CNN) Delores Jones-Brown, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York, said, “the majority of people who are stopped are black, followed by Hispanics, then white people.” (CNN) Jones-Brown adds, “Almost 90% of those stops do not result in an arrest or a summons being issued.” (CNN) If the searching leads to little or no arrests, then the process would appear to be futile. If police were really concerned with stopping violent crimes and getting criminals off the streets, they would utilize their time and resources better. Instead of wasting their time inconveniencing innocent people, they would work towards finding the real criminals and searching them. For innocent people will be really inconvenienced if they are robbed from or murdered by a criminal that the police could have stopped with better preparation.

The fact that the police are trying to put an end to violence and death on the streets is definitely a good thing. However, who is to judge the appearance of “suspicious individuals?” Should the police be passing judgment on people who are probably innocent, or are there no other options to ensure the safety of the community? The CNN article also alludes to the prospect of racial profiling by the NYPD, as most of the “suspicious individuals” are nonwhite. Just because people might wear baggy pants or bandanas, doesn’t mean that they are part of a gang. Same with tattoos and smoking, or any other minuscule thing that the police can determine as “suspicious.” Most of these examples have worked their way into everyday American fashion and social norms, and as the above studies seem to indicate, most people are not criminals.

According to the RAND Corporation, a non-profit research organization for the public and private sectors, “In 2006, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) stopped a half-million pedestrians for suspected criminal involvement. Raw statistics for these encounters suggest large racial disparities, [as] 89 percent of the stops involved nonwhites.” (RAND)

I do not think that these “frisk” searches are the solution, as they present an inherently racial bias/profiling. Even if the police officer is not racist, there is no way around the problem that if you stop someone who is a different race then you, you will be called out for racial profiling. If the government needs to have probable cause to search someone’s home, or wiretap their phone, then this same law should carry over to free citizens walking or driving on the streets. Unless there is probable cause to search someone, the police need to mind their own business. For example, just because the majority of shooting victims in New York are nonwhite, doesn’t mean that every minority is carrying a gun and intends to commit a crime. That is not to say that the police shouldn’t stay vigilant on the job; that is what they are trained and paid to do. If they think someone is suspicious, they need to search them. But if they think that the person is “suspicious” in the more racial context, they need to find other solutions than just frisking them and violating the person’s liberties. Otherwise, police officers lose their credibility and authority with the general public. People won’t listen to officers who they recognize as racist, especially in communities where minorities and people of color are present. For police officers to be truly effective, they have to prove to the public by their actions and conduct that they treat every citizen equally, no matter the citizen’s race, which in this country means innocent until proven guilty, or innocent until proven suspicious. If officers spend most of their time conducting futile searches on innocent people, they risk the chance that true criminals are able to slip though the cracks.

Citations

MLA CITATIONS

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Friedler, Sorelle. “Poetry written by adults in the Japanese internment camps:.” World War II Poetry. Swarthmore College Computer Society, n.d. Web. 10 Feb 2012. <http://www.sccs.swarthmore.edu/users/04/sorelle/poetry/wwii/poetry.html&gt;.

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To A Suicide Bomber

Enemies Grow Stronger

To A Suicide Bomber

Dr. Rafey Habib

You do not speak for me:

You who soak yourselves in blood

Are far from the Prophet’s mantle.

You who act beyond the Book

Are far from the Word.

You do not speak for me:

You who do not know, and kill,

Murder your own soul

You blew up a young girl.

A mother’s heart will bleed forever.

A father’s will is broken.

Because of you their world is ended.

What good have you done?

Your own wife, young,

Curses you in her sleep, her nightmare.

Your children betrayed

To a myth; they still ask for you.

Your parents dragged

Through your empty dream.

Because of you their world is ended.

You have brought not paradise

But hell: hell to all around you.

Their ghosts will rise around you,

Asking: Why? Why?

What good have you done?

Because of you, I am reviled;

Because of you, your own people suffer;

Because of you

Oppression speaks louder.

Because of you, my religion reels in shame.

Because of you, two countries lie in ruins.

Because of you, a deserted nation suffers.

Because of you, the corrupt have grown stronger.

The bigots can speak without shame.

Because of you, the good people the world over

Have no name.

With each act of your violence,

Your enemies grow stronger, harsher

More justified in killing and conquest.

Each life you take weakens your cause, turns

An indifferent world against you.

You call yourselves holy warriors:

But you have never read the Holy Book,

Never tried to understand,

Never struggled with yourself.

You took the easy way:

And what will you say on the Day of days?

What will you say to your Lord, to

Those you killed, to your family?

What good have you done?

It is not you who bear

The prophet=s sword; the

True sword is a word, a thought,

Touched by light, forged

In wisdom and

Relentless in love.

It is not you who wear

The prophet=s mantle but those who

Strive , armed not with bombs but with

Patience, with a Book,

High in words and deeds.

You do not speak for me

Or the sweetness of my God;

You do not speak for me.

I thought this poem was very moving and really emotionally driven. I thought there was a lot of symbolism in the poem that made it speak a greater message and to a larger audience. Every person may not understand every aspect of the poem, but enough so that they would understand the message and feel its political implication.

Frightened and Free

Frightened and Free

I am like the Bedouin who travels on hostile sands,

Stranger to all, mistrusted, to be driven from the land.

I exalt peace with a hushed prayer and elicit fear,

Reason has died and I am left to weep before its bier.

My self is only what a frightened fool desires to see,

stripped of dignity, handcuffs in lieu of humanity.

Here in the land of the frightened and the free.

 

We dressed in suits and irony and spoke fine English, we thought.

The six of us awaiting takeoff performed our noon Salāt.

Love is blind, but Fear is not and someone raised the alarm:

Suspicious Arabs aboard the flight, intent on causing harm.

We Imams, we Leaders, we men of God and peace,

Played by all the rules but still lost out,

Here in the land of the frightened and the free.

 

They took us away in handcuffs, at a whisper’s beck and call,

Worse yet I saw the faces, fear or hate covered most all.

In the face of such recklessness what good can reason do?

In all of History it’s been the same, the many rule the few.

The word “Imam” means leader, and so I’ve tried to be,

Yet in this world I’m suspect, my race is all they see.

And we’re still looking for equality,

in the land of the frightened and the free.

What More

I used to be able to walk around without the stares

Then after the bombs fell out of the sky                           Then after the planes fell out of the sky

And more than 2000 people died                                            And more than 3000 people died

Trapped by a fire that I did not create

 

I lower my head in shame                                                       I raise my head without shame

 

Because I did not do this.

I attract stares at the grocery store                                                      I attract stares at the airport

They tell me to stand in a different line and

Ask me questions about the government.                 Ask me questions about another government.

They say it is because of my eyes                                         They say it is because of my clothes

That I am treated like this

I speak English, I am almost a citizen                                   I speak English, I am a U.S. citizen

What more can I do?

 

I cannot change the color of my skin.

Mealtime in the Camps

This is the Manzanar Relocation Center in Manzanar, California. This is mess-hall number 15. As you can see, it is very crowded and much like a cafeteria. Living in the camps, an evacuee was treated more like a number than a real person, as shown by the massive cafeteria and similar living situations.

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