Monday, July 25, 2005

Another Casualty: Shortly since I made my post about the need for racial profiling, critics are blaming such profiling for causing the death of a Brazilian man in London. British police apparently mistook him for a terrorist suspect and shot him dead as he ran onto a subway train.

Was this an overreaction on the London police? A simple mistake? Overzealousness? Something else entirely?

It's hard to say. You have to remember though, this man ran away to evade the police. The man even jumped a subway turnstile to get away. He was a suspect not just because of his dark complexion, but because of some other intelligence mishap. So you have a live suspect disobeying orders and running into a crowded train. What would you do?

If the man was indeed carrying explosives, the police chose not to shoot, and then a bomb he was carrying killed all the people aboard the train, well, you can imagine what the blog posts would be saying today.

Just like my post arguing that a group of Middle Easterners carrying large backpacks should rise to the level of "suspicious" and should trigger a brief search, criticism of racial profiling against the Brazilian victim rests mostly on 20/20 hindsight. It doesn't do much good if we state the obvious after the fact. But we can learn from what just happened to help us make the next decision.

From what it appears, the British police admitted its mistake and apologized, but they will still be vigilant against protecting against terrorism, using deadly force if deemed necessary. Sounds good to me, although this doesn't help the man's grieving friends and family.

There's a global war going on. It's taking place in America, England, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Israel, Australia, Spain, and beyond. Unfortunately the terrorists don't abide by customary rules of warfare. They hide like cowards and target civilians. We willfully restrain ourselves so as not to bow down to their level. But we have to defend ourselves against their tactics.


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