It's pretty bizarre, really, that we've now gotten to the point where Ann Coulter can go off on Bill O'Reilly's show last night with a bigoted rant demanding the TSA drop its body scans and instead revert to ethnic profiling of Muslim males -- and nobody even bothers to notice much.
Coulter's thesis, for what it's worth, is really proof of the triumph of ignorance in conservative ranks. She wants the TSA to simply start profiling Muslims, particularly young males, for complete screenings and let the rest of us go. But as we've explained previously, these kinds of measures are absurdly ineffective and actually make you more vulnerable, because they make it easy for terrorists to game the system:
If you want to profile every "known Muslim," you're going to have a hell of a time in countries like Indonesia and the Philippines, considering that their populations are a mix of the world's religions, and any Muslim who wanted to pose as a member of, say, a Christian church in order to fool authorities could do so with ease.
This just underscores how foolish the whole notion of racial profiling actually is, because when you embark on such policies, they actually make you more vulnerable, not less.
That's because terrorists are not that stupid. If you begin profiling for Middle Eastern men, they will find Indonesian or African or European operatives to perform the same task. If you begin profiling for Muslims, they will find ways to conceal their religious preferences.
We know two things about profiling, especially ethnic, religious, or racial profiling: 1) These policies expose the profilers to being gamed by terrorists; and 2) They are always a tremendous waste of resources and inevitably are counter-productive.
But even beyond the obvious ignorance, what's remarkable about Coulter's rant is just how nakedly bigoted it is. She practically spits out the epithets:
Coulter: I think the point is, as many have said, this is Hitler's last revenge. The one thing we won't look at is who is doing this. ...
... In this asymmetrical warfare, we have no advantages. We're not at war with a country. They are not fighting by the rules of war. If a Martian landed, he would say, 'The one advantage you guys have is, they all look alike. They're all foreign born. They're all male. They're all between a certain age group. They're all Muslim.
... If we had been attacked by Swedish terrorists, this would not even be an issue. It's only because our terrorists are from Third World countries that we will not even look at profiling them.
This is patently absurd, of course; after Oklahoma City, no one considered profiling white male American veterans as potential terror suspects. Indeed, the only reason it's an issue is that the 9/11 attacks were perpetrated by identifiable Others.
What's kind of remarkable about this is that there's nothing really remarkable about Coulter's bigotry anymore. It's become such an ingrained part of the right-wing schtick that it takes something really overt and outrageous to even get our attention anymore.
After all, just in the past week alone, we've had Rush Limbaugh's classic dog-whistle race-baiting schtick about "Driving Miss Nancy" and James Clyburn, plus Glenn Beck's patently anti-Semitic rants about George Soros.
They've gotten some of the attention. In that context, Coulter's bigotry is pretty standard, tame and lame. She's not even out there pushing the envelope anymore, which used to be her role.
It is clear to me that most people in journalism and (non-right wing) blogging do not listen to right wing talk radio very often and simply cannot believe it when critics who report what they are saying. For instance, Andrew Sullivan seems to think this comment by Limbaugh is beyond the pale. It is. But it is so commonplace as to nearly be unworthy of mention by people who listen to his show regularly. Indeed, the idea that it's particularly shocking because it's "self-conscious" is laughable. That's his whole schtick. Just this week he's been winking and chuckling about this "Driving Miss Nancy" theme, sarcastically pretending that he's sticking up for the African American Clyburn, when it's quite obvious he's playing to his bigoted and sexist listeners.
I realize that it's hard to believe that Americans are this obnoxious. It's probably even harder to believe they are paid hundreds of millions of dollars to promote this bigotry on the radio to millions of other Americans, but they are --- they are speaking the language of eliminationism and hate day after day after day. If it soothes you to believe that those who are alarmed by that are the intemperate ones so be it, but it doesn't change what they are doing or the effect it's had on our politics.
It's getting bad when remarks that, 15 years ago, would have gotten you fired now barely even rate a raised eyebrow.