Sarah Palin doesn’t think that there’s any “ability or opportunity” in Arizona’s new immigration law for racial profiling. Surprisingly, her Fox News colleagues disagree:

One of the most objectionable things about Arizona’s law is the blatant racial profiling, but that doesn’t seem to phase most conservatives. Jonah Goldberg doesn’t see a problem with it. George Will doesn’t see a problem with it. Byron York doesn’t even understand that it is racial profiling (note to Mr. York: the difference between flashing your ID at the DMV and being asked for your papers is that the latter will only happen if you’re brown). There’s a straightforward explanation behind this tacit support for racial profiling in Arizona; simply put, conservatives have long been defenders of racial profiling in law enforcement.

You only have to look back five months — after the failed “underpants bombing” — to see conservatives voice their enthusiasm for anything that would give extra scrutiny to brown people. Tom McInerney, a retired Air Force general, proposed that we “be very serious and harsh about the profiling,” especially if “you are an 18 to 28-year-old Muslim man,” in which case “you should be strip-searched.” The National Review’s Andy McCarthy endorsed the view of the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens, who argued that profiling was necessary given that “suicide bombing is a purely Islamic phenomenon.” Even conservative elected officials are willing to voice their enthusiasm for profiling. In an Armed Services Committee hearing on Fort Hood, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) declared that he “believes in racial and ethnic profiling.”

In fact, the conservative enthusiasm for racial profiling goes beyond national security and immigration. Conservatives tend not to see a huge problem with the fact that African-Americans are disproportionately stopped and searched by law enforcement. Here’s Heather MacDonald, circa 2001, defending the racialized status quo of police pullovers:

Racial profiling crusade is the most successful gambit in decades to try and divert attention from perhaps the most intractable social problem we face, which is black on black crime and the anti-police activists are trying to make police racism an irrebutable presumption. Whenever law enforcement statistics show a high rate of minority stops and rests, but the police go where the crime is. The policing revolution of the ‘90s was to make policing data driven. The police aren’t looking for white or black, they’re looking for criminals and they go to the neighborhoods with the highest rates of crime, those tend to be minority neighborhoods.

If you are shocked by the conservative movement’s warm reaction to Arizona’s experiment in racial profiling, then you simply haven’t been paying attention.

Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie