TERRORISM BY ANOTHER NAME
©Wendell Griffen, 2014
When armed people snatch others from among us, hold them hostage, mistreat them, and kill them we call such people “terrorists” no matter what aims they profess, no matter what grievances they claim, and no matter what titles they hold. So why do we call law enforcement officers who do such things “patriots” and defenders of “law and order”?
Why are law enforcement agents who routinely profile, harass, snatch, hold, mistreat, and kill people of color and religious minorities considered valiant while others who do similar acts are called vicious? Why don’t we admit that racial profiling and the stuff that goes along with it is terrorism?
People of color and others who are not considered part of the dominant mainstream know that racial profiling by people in law enforcement is terrorism. These people live with the constant and daily threat of being stopped, frisked, considered criminally suspicious, and deemed dangerous simply because of who they are, how they dress, and how they worship. They suffer that terrorism every day in the name of “law enforcement.” People who have moral insight and cultural competence know racial profiling is wrong.
However, many politicians, judges, law enforcement personnel, and others in our society support racial profiling. Last week the Obama administration issued law enforcement guidelines that allow racial profiling for immigration and other government agents in the name of “national security.”
The ugly and painful reality is that the terrorism of racial profiling is condoned by the wider society because its victims are not white. Oscar Grant (age 22), Eugene Ellison (age 67), Tamir Rice (age 12), Michael Brown, Jr. (age 18), Eric Garner (age 43), Malissa Williams (age 30), Ricardo Mason (age 16), Kathryn Johnston (age 92), Pearlie Golden (age 93), Jack Lamar Roberson (age 45), and Monroe Isadore (age 107) were people of color violently and deliberately slain by law enforcement agents. Their tragic deaths and countless other abuses associated with racial profiling show how our society has become morally blind and dead from what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the “giant triplets” of racism, militarism, and materialism.
When the insults, violations, violence, suffering, and death regularly inflicted on people of color through racial profiling happen to white people the news media, pundits, politicians, and general public call it “terrorism.” Those who engage in it are called vicious, not valiant. Those who suffer from it are considered victims, not viewed as getting what they deserved.
We shouldn’t require that white people suffer the terrorism from police that people of color routinely suffer because of racial profiling before we decide to condemn and punish the terrorists who do it while disguised as agents of law enforcement. Racial profiling by law enforcement officers is simply terrorism by a different name no matter what excuses we manufacture for it.