Via Boing Boing comes this scary little story in Time about Operation TIPS-like operations. Despite Operation TIPS being shot down by Congress, there are vestiges of it under Homeland Security, and frankly, stuff like the paragraphs below really scare me — especially the second paragraph:
After the session in Little Rock, two newly initiated Highway Watch members sat down for the catered barbecue lunch. The truckers, who haul hazardous material across 48 states, explained how easy it is to spot “Islamics” on the road: just look for their turbans. Quite a few of them are truck drivers, says William Westfall of Van Buren, Ark. “I’ll be honest. They know they’re not welcome at truck stops. There’s still a lot of animosity toward Islamics.” Eddie Dean of Fort Smith, Ark., also has little doubt about his ability to identify Muslims: “You can tell where they’re from. You can hear their accents. They’re not real clean people.”
That kind of prejudice is hard to undo, but it’s a shame Beatty’s slide show did not mention that in the U.S., it’s almost always Sikhs who wear turbans, not Muslims. Last year a Sikh truck driver who was wearing a turban was shot twice while standing near his tractor trailer in Phoenix, Ariz. He survived the attack, which police are investigating as a hate crime.
The Highway Watch website boasts that the program is open to “an elite core [sic] of truck drivers” who must have clean driving and employment records. In fact, their records are not vetted by the American Trucking Associations. At the Little Rock event, some came in off the street without preregistering. However, the organization is highly security conscious about other parts of its operations. It refuses to disclose the exact location of its hotline call center or the number of operators working there. “It could be infiltrated,” says Dawn Apple, Highway Watch’s director of training and recruitment.
It could be infiltrated. Oh, man, this is absurd. This is so wrong, on so many levels, that it scares me that a bunch of rednecks are patrolling highways, such as it were.
This entire operation is a Bad Idea, as evidenced by the Sikh driver who was shot in Phoenix. We need to pull the plug on it and other programs that aren’t giving proper training. I’m all for enlisting citizens in helping out — we all should be doing this, as a matter of course — but Jebus, give them the correct training. These bozos are just profiling away and not giving a shit. Brown skin=Bad, plain and simple, in their world view.