Sam Harris advocates profiling Muslims

Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith and leading proponent of the “New Atheism”, has a piece on his blog advocating racial and religious profiling by airport security:

“We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it…. Needless to say, a devout Muslim should be free to show up at the airport dressed like Osama bin Laden, and his wives should be free to wear burqas. But if their goal is simply to travel safely and efficiently, wouldn’t they, too, want a system that notices people like themselves?”

Yeah, right. If you were a terrorist intent on attacking a plane you would obviously show up at the airport dressed like Osama bin Laden, wouldn’t you?

But what else can you expect from a man who has backed Geert Wilders, joined the hysterical campaign against the so-called Ground Zero mosque and claimed that “the people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists”?

Update:  Even some of Harris’s admirers are taken aback by this latest outburst. In an open letter to Harris at the Huffington Post Michael Mungai writes:

I am not sure how you’d recommend that the TSA go about identifying Muslims. Unless all Muslims are forced to don a star and crescent on their clothing, I am assuming that you are advocating for the profiling of people who appear to be from the Middle East and other Muslim countries, i.e. identifying them by their race….

But if we went with your recommendations, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the “Underwear Bomber” who is a black man from Nigeria, would also slip through security while the TSA frisks a Pakistani family heading to Disney World for holiday. If the TSA was to use “Muslim names” instead of race and ethnicity, I doubt that your friend Ayaan Hirsi Ali would be happy to be subjected to excessive TSA inspection just because her name fits a certain profile.

Racial profiling, by the TSA or the police, should be categorically denounced by anyone living in the 21st century. It is utterly insensitive that while the U.S. is dealing with the extremities of such a barbaric practice that’s suspected to have ended young Trayvon Martin’s life, a respected public intellectual like yourself would advocate its practice on others.