BP # 10:Racial Profiling and the Veil of Ignorance

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For American Muslim lawyer and writer, Nafees Syed , traveling for business is anything but easy. Due to racial profiling, she has to give herself and extra hour at the airport for “random” security checks due to her hijab, or head covering. More often than not, she said, she is pulled aside at security for secondary screenings and pat-downs, the examiner feeling her head through the hijab.

Whether you’re a business executive or professional like Syed, a Yale Law School graduate and commercial litigator in the prestigious firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner, it does not necessarily exempt American Muslim travelers from this sort of racial profiling. This has become more common for travelers due to terrorist incidents and “anti-Islamic political rhetoric.”

I think this story can be related to Rawls’ idea of the Veil of Ignorance which guides the laws and norms of society. T.S.A officials at airports are ignoring the veil of ignorance in their racial profiling of certain travelers. They may just be doing what they are told to do but their actions are racist and discriminatory. Even if their intentions are good and are meant to protect people, their actions tell the Muslim travelers that they can not be trusted and that every Muslim is a possible terrorist. But how would the T.S.A officials feel if it were the other way around? What if every time white people or asian people when to the airport, they had to plan for security checks to take an hour longer than normal because they knew they would be “randomly” selected to be searched? It is unfair and unethical for certain people to be treated differently or more harshly than others or to be treated a certain way due to actions that members of their ethnic group commented. Although racial profiling is the result of a societal stigma that has been constructed and placed in the minds of citizens through language and constant exposure to the negative things, it still doesn’t make it justifiable. If it were the other way around, airport security officials would think that that would be absurd and would probably make a scene. But for many Muslim traveler’s, they think it is not worth it to say anything because they know that this is the way it is an speaking up may only make it worse.



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