To be called racial profiling, one must essentially view race as the only profiling issue and the issue of race must be entirely arbitrary to the situation. For example, suppose a bomb blows up at a shopping center in Prince George's County, Maryland. One third of the shoppers are Black, one third are White, and one third are Hispanic. Now, if police review the security tapes and send investigators out to interview only the black shoppers, then we have an issue of racial profiling.
"Driving while black" often is an excuse for folks acting squirrelly WHILE driving and being black rather than JUST driving and being black. Police must profile in the course of their work; they must make split decisions on who to pull over and check out. They work off a profile of what they experience in their work. Believe me, having done ride alongs with my cop daughter, it isn't just blacks that get profiled. Check out that white guy lurking behind that business in a black area of town. He was not ignored by police; they thought, "What's he up to?" and they checked him out. Sure enough, he was trying to burglarize a black man's business. But, they profiled him not only because he was white in a black area, but because he was lurking in an odd way, and because he was somewhat unkempt in the manner of a drug user looking for some way to support his habit. If you are black. dress like a thug, and jump into a vehicle that matches the style drug users like and you look like a drug dealer AND you act in some squirrelly fashion, you might get pulled over (often after the cop runs your plate and finds out something is suspicious about it).
So, now to flying while Muslim. This group looked VERY Muslim with the men with the long beards and the women with their heads covered. They were in a location where they will stand out to those around them (like the white guy at the black mall or behind the black business). Their behavior was possibly squirrelly. Now I know these Muslim passengers claim they said nothing concerning, just something about the safest place to sit on a plane and something about the engine jets right outside the window. All of this might have just been normal chit-chat. However, we have not yet heard the other side of the story, what the a passenger or two overheard; perhaps what was said was a little more scary that what is claimed.
Regardless, everyone knows clearly by now that one doesn't shout fire in a theatre or anything close to it. A white boy who loves rap and hangs with all blacks may be able to say Nigga when with his friends but he best not say that while he is alone in a black club without them. Even as a white middle-aged female I know enough not to lunge for something under my seat while a police officer is standing outside my vehicle waiting for me to produce my license. I also know that when I travel in predominantly Muslim areas like Kashmir and Egypt that covering my arms and head is both wise and respectful. It makes those around me comfortable (even if I disagree with the philosophy behind it). The United States is a country that is not terribly in sync with Islamic views, especially of women, and certain Muslim attire makes many feel extremely wary.
These were intelligent Muslims. The spokesman for the group is a doctor and his brother is a lawyer. He knows darn well that it is simply not wise to make comments that can be misconstrued as threatening on a plane when dressed in the manner of a particular group of people who have members who like to crash planes and participate in suicide missions.
Yes, this may have been a perfectly nice group of people who made a silly comment. Well, you pay for making silly comments if you know that those silly comments shouldn't be made at that location. You learned a lesson of what not to do in that public venue. Sorry. Your bad.
If it turns out they made no suspicious comments at all, then the onus of what happened falls on the other passengers, but let's see what their side of the story is before we accuse them of being racists as opposed to concerned citizens worried about the safety of themselves and others on the plane. I look forward to more clarity before judging one group or the other.
Criminal Profiler Pat Brown