Discrimination

Whether discrimination is good or bad depends entirely on the basis for making the choice. Groups, employers, and individuals rightly choose to avoid the indolent and the violent. The wrong comes when we discriminate against someone solely on the basis of race, sex, or something like that.

I was having dinner with two Caucasian women in the division dining tent in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2004. One was the division JAG (legal) officer and the other was another staff officer. One of them turned the conversation to discrimination and racial profiling, with the women relating stories from their experience. Our warm joviality cooled like hot cider on a snowy day. The staffer related a time when, while in the Miami airport, someone spoke to her in Spanish. She replied with exasperation, “couldn’t he just have looked at me and known that I couldn’t speak Spanish”. Growing weary of the conversation I replied, “No, because that would have been racial profiling.” The cooling relations froze like dry ice and we departed. We got along famously before and after, but that topic was relational poison.

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