Proceedings Journal Article — Flying While Arab (Or Was It Muslim? Or Middle Eastern?): A Theoretical Analysis of Racial Profiling After September 11th — by Bart Bonikowski

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Abstract

Although the term “racial profiling” had long been used to describe the tendency of law enforcement agencies to disproportionately target Blackmales, its meaning expanded after 9/11 to include the targeting by counterterrorist organizations of individuals with ties to Muslim (and particularly Middle Eastern) countries. This shift in emphasis has been fuelled by news stories of airport searches and detentions, mandatorygovernment registrations, unexplained deportations and arrests, and community surveillance—all focused on U.S. residents of Muslim and/orMiddle Eastern origin. This paper aims to situate the “new racial profiling” (an intentional misnomer) in the context of two long-standing trendsin American society: the continual intensification of surveillance and the persistence of Orientalism in the dominant social discourse. Based on an analysis of these two trends, this paper develops a normative critique of racial profiling by questioning its internal logic and challenging itsefficacy as a viable counter-terrorism measure. Furthermore, the paper calls for an examination of the social costs of profiling practices.

Recommended Citation

Bonikowski, Bart. 2005. “Flying While Arab (Or Was It Muslim? Or Middle Eastern?): A Theoretical Analysis of Racial Profiling After September 11th.” Pp. 315-328 in Theories and Praxes of Difference: Revisiting Edward Said in the Age of New Globalizations: Proceedings of the Second Annual Social Theory Forum, April 6-7, 2005 (Discourse of Sociological Practice, Vol. 7, Issues 1&2, Fall/Spring 2005). Double-Issue Guest Editor: Mohammad H. Tamdgidi. Sociology Department, UMass Boston.

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