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Geraldo Rivera and Juan Williams Argue For Ethnic Profiling On Airplanes

Reported by Ellen - November 22, 2010 -

Chalk up Geraldo Rivera and Juan Williams as two more Fox News pundits without any aviation security credentials to argue that what we really need to keep us safe and flying more comfortably is ethnic profiling of Muslims. It was to be expected from “I get nervous when I see Muslims in traditional garb on airplanes” Williams. But Rivera? He seemed most interested in making sure that people like himself didn’t have to go through the trouble of enhanced screening. Then, in an apparent effort to beef up their street cred, the two played the “we’re minorities too” card. Williams tied it up in a Fox News agenda package at the end by “asking” if the whole situation will hurt President Obama.

Substituting for Bill O'Reilly Friday night (11/19/10), Williams framed the argument during the talking points segment that kicked off the show, “The government refuses to profile passengers who are most likely to blow up planes. Many Americans don’t think Grandma and little kids are a threat to passenger safety but the feds apparently disagree.”

Later, when Rivera appeared, he said, “My point is that (using body scanners or pat downs) is not results oriented. It is form oriented. The whole procedure is to comply with some political correctness or some desire to appear equal-handed, even handed, and treat everyone the same. But that is preposterous… It’s not racial profiling, it’s criminal profiling which is legal in this country. It doesn’t violate the Fourth Amendment. It is something that has to happen.” Has to happen? How does Rivera know? Williams didn’t ask.

Rivera continued by suggesting that what he really wants is for people like himself to get a pass. “…What I would advocate is to hugely increase the people who get the pass, the pilot pass. For instance, the million-mile frequent fliers, the people from Disney World tour groups that are randomly – the synagogue group, the church group, the, uh, you know… there are classes of people for whom the prospect of terrorism is infinitesimally remote.” Did you notice which religion was not mentioned there?

But that wasn’t enough ethnic profiling for Rivera. “OK, the population you have left are the occasional fliers… Now of the occasional fliers, there’s a difference between the one whose flight originated in Yemen and the one whose flight – seriously (Williams broke into laughter) – whose flight originated in Israel or in… Sweden.”

Williams did point out that we have no fly lists and “extensive layers… of checks.” He also noted that it sounded as though Rivera were arguing that he and other folks like him, who do a lot of flying, “don’t have to get checked but everybody else has to get checked.”

No, Rivera, claimed. He was saying that it's people who fit the stereotype who should get checked (not that the ones who don't, like him, shouldn't) Rivera replied, “You know, you have a stop and frisk law here in New York where it is greatly credited with cutting down violent crime, particularly street crime. Who is most impacted by stop and frisk? It’s the black and brown youngsters, it’s the people from the marginal socio-economic groups and neighborhoods. But that’s where the crime is! That is the way real world operates! …Yes, I am offended. I’m offended like during the drug war, when my mustache made me the person who was targeted. I think that you have to have subjective, intelligent, reasonable approaches to stopping terrorism in the new era. Because if we don’t, as we go forward in this new war, if there is, if you concede that there is a conflict between radical Islam and the west, this is a conflict in its beginning stages. It’s a decade old, it has a hundred years to run.” So now Rivera was positioning himself as an expert in the war on terror - and likening it to street crime in the ghetto.

Williams added, “That stop and frisk that everybody complained about, let me tell you, made life better in minority communities.”

“It certainly did,” Rivera agreed. “Because we are most often the victims of our own crimes.”

Nice use of the words “we” and “our own crimes” but something tells me that neither Rivera nor Williams live in minority communities where they or their children get stopped and frisked.

Then, as Williams cited a poll showing that most Americans support the body scans, Rivera argued that the poll should only have included people who fly often. “That is the population who is made miserable by this blunderbuss approach that has very little connection to the war on terror.”

“And is this going to hurt Obama?” Williams gratuitously asked. Because isn’t that the theme or subtext of almost any discussion on Fox, whether pertinent or not?

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