Letters

Summer 2001
Criminal—Not Racial—Profiling

To the editor:
Three years ago, I was involved in the now infamous New Jersey Turnpike tragedy that initiated the furor over "racial profiling."

I would like to thank Heather Mac Donald for being the second person—the first being Judge Andrew J. Smithson, who dismissed criminal charges in our case—to see past the explosive political controversy over alleged racial profiling, and tell the truth. Her story was clear, concise, and extremely accurate as to the numerous factors that lead an officer to conduct a vehicle search.

Trooper John I. Hogan
New Jersey State Police

To the editor:
I have read Heather Mac Donald’s articles on policing and am extremely impressed with her research, her insight, and most of all, her courage.

"The Myth of Racial Profiling" describes police departments that, like my own, receive requests from everyday citizens for aid in cleaning up their neighborhoods. But how can police help if laws are passed to prosecute them for doing their jobs?

The Texas State Legislature is currently trying to pass a racial-profiling bill similar to the one that New Jersey now has in place. It’s sad that people in powerful positions can create laws and policies that will adversely affect the lives of so many good citizens, of people begging for police assistance.

I know officers who no longer put their hearts into crime suppression because they fear reprisal. I have heard, "Well, it looks like they want to give the streets back to the criminals. They’ll figure out their mistake in a year or so, and we’ll have to come clean up the mess." The problem with this attitude is that cops will take a step backward in the effort to create a sense of our being part of the community. Then it won’t just be the thoughtless lawmakers letting down good people in bad areas.

Sergeant Chris Nafe
President, Abilene (TX) Police Officers’ Association

To the editor:
I had to re-read "The Myth of Racial Profiling" because the facts and analysis were so thorough and compelling. I have not found an equally compelling argument on the other side of the profiling issue.

The most disturbing point is the irony of the developing political situation. If anti-profiling crusaders achieve their goals, minority neighborhoods with many law-abiding, decent people will again succumb to crime. Reduced police presence will ultimately harm precisely those people the crusade was supposed to help and who are most in need of heightened anti-crime measures. What will the anti-profilers say then—that there is no concern for the safety of minority neighborhoods?

Lena Robinson
Winthrop, MA
 

Civil Incivility?

To the editor:
I could not agree more with the basic premise of Brian C. Anderson’s "Illiberal Liberalism" [Spring 2001]. Civility has disappeared in most arenas of political and social debate, and the deceitful invective of Paul Begala and James Carville may constitute the real "Clinton legacy": that character assassination for political gain—as long as it’s legal—is acceptable.

While the left’s extreme rhetoric on affirmative action, race relations, and abortion has no place in the realm of reasoned political debate, extreme positions from the other side of the aisle that are presented under the guise of civil discussion shouldn’t be excused, either. Anderson seems to apply his standard of civility inconsistently. If Procter & Gamble and American Express stop sponsoring Dr. Laura, it needn’t be interpreted as a sign that "traditional sexual mores are now taboo." Those firms may have withdrawn their ads for strictly economic reasons, so as not to offend a large segment of their customers. Or perhaps they thought that Dr. Laura’s views hinder understanding of a controversial issue, and might reinforce certain extremists’ view that "gay bashing" is acceptable.

Not all homosexuals want their sex lives publicly "celebrated." Most just want to be safe in their jobs and on the streets. To say that we should show homosexuals "respect and kindness" while describing their behavior as "deviant" does not promote an atmosphere of security for gays. Didn’t Matthew Shepard’s murderers think he was morally inferior, and that killing him was not quite like killing a straight man?

Symposiums that discuss whether homosexuality is not genetically caused are comparable to discussion panels on the "creationist" origins of the universe: one has the right to hold these views, but they are equally absurd.

Everyone is entitled to his opinion. But if the opinions of Khallid Muhammad

"have no place in the democratic public square," why welcome opinions equally offensive to segments of the population simply because they are presented less vehemently? I think you should rethink your views.

C. H. Browne
New York, NY

Brian C. Anderson responds:
C. H. Browne’s thoughtful letter, which otherwise endorses my analysis of "illiberal liberalism," suggests that conservatives who raise moral objections to homosexual acts—even with apparent civility—are really bigots comparable to left-wing haters like Khallid Muhammad, and thus should have no place in legitimate public debate.

But Browne unwittingly exhibits the very illiberalism my article warns against, peremptorily deciding what is at stake regarding the public moral status of homosexuality. The conservative view grows out of more than 2,000 years of Western moral thinking. But no matter: if gays find that tradition "offensive"—Browne’s sole criterion for detecting the presence of bigotry—out it goes. Pretty soon, the Bible and Dante’s Divine Comedy (or, for that matter, the Boy Scouts, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, and much else besides) become taboo. This is not how our democracy should engage its deepest moral differences.

I agree that "not all homosexuals" want their life-styles publicly celebrated; my argument was directed at militant gay activists who shout down opposing views and try to force their beliefs on others.

Why does Browne describe those who see homosexuality as possibly non-genetic in origin—and perhaps open to therapeutic treatment—as loons? At present, the origins of homosexuality remain a mystery; scientists have discovered no "gay gene."

For a true liberal, the question of what causes homosexuality would remain an open one.
 

The People’s Republic of Gotham

To the editor:
Steven Malanga’s article on the GOP ["New York’s Republican Crack-Up," Spring 2001] is superb. The Republican leadership’s lurch to the left suggests a party that campaigns in one direction and governs in another. It is instructive that, as much of the world moves toward the privatization of public assets, New York State recently underwrote a $7 billion bond to make the Long Island Lighting Company—a private company—into a public utility. If there were truth in political advertising, the New York State Republican Party would be relabeled the Democratic Party and the Democrats in turn would be called the Socialist Party. Unfortunately, truth and politics aren’t compatible.

Herbert London
New York University

To the editor:
What an irony that a liberal is obliged to suggest an error in Steven Malanga’s "New York’s Republican Crack-Up." He asserts that Jack Kemp was the first New Yorker on a national Republican ticket since 1948. What about William Miller, the 1964 running mate of Barry Goldwater?

Richard Aspinwall
New York, NY