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Robert Spencer Mocks Expansion of Racial Profiling Definition

Imagine 2050 Staff • Jan 21, 2014

With a few words and a hefty dose of sarcasm, anti-Muslim activist Robert Spencer weighed in last week on reports that the Justice Department is expanding its definition of racial profiling to cover religion, national origin, gender and sexual orientation.

For the last decade, several civil rights advocates have contended that federal authorities have had the leeway to unjustly single out Muslims in counterterrorism investigations and Latinos in immigration cases. As they’ve repeated, racial profiling is an ineffective tool for law enforcement and often has the effect of pushing away communities who might actually be useful in investigations.

“Because who ever heard of Muslims being involved in terrorism?” Spencer retorted on his blog. “The very idea is preposterous! Why would anyone get the idea that counterterror surveillance was ever needed in Muslim communities?”

While Spencer did take the time to give a hat tip to one of his favorite advocates, Linda Sarsour of the Arab American Association of New York, it appears he didn’t bother to confirm all of his facts. He claimed that the Justice Department is prohibiting agents from “considering religion in counterterror investigations,” but Attorney General Eric Holder has not clarified whether the new guidelines will apply to national security investigations. Also, the new rules will not apply to local or state police departments. Thus, pending lawsuits against the New York Police Department over Muslim surveillance may not be directly impacted by the changes at the federal level.

Though Spencer didn’t have much to say himself, his post opened up the space for the echo chamber that is the comments section.

“That’s it, the party is over. Turn out the lights and call it a day,” one commenter reposted from the original New York Times article comments. “Obama and company have ended the war on terrorism by surrendering.” 

Others were — at least rhetorically — more inclined to take matters into their own hands:

“Look very closely at the photo of Holder (on Spencer’s post) and see if you can guess his neck size. You’re going to need to get that noose ready!”

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