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“Before September 11 we had almost succeeded in eliminating racial profiling, After September 11, it’s a whole new world,” says Michel Shehadeh of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) in the western region. “One thousand Arab Americans have already been detained and we don’t know who they are or what charges have been brought against them.”
Of those 1,147 Arabs and Arab Americans who have been detained, exactly zero have been charged with any formal offense in connection to the events of September 11. This, however, has not slowed the pace of the detentions. What it has done is give moral, political, and for the time being, legal sanction to stop, search, and detain anyone who appears to be Arab.
Prior to September 11, 80 percent of Americans opposed racial profiling. Since that day, “There has been an immediate reversal of public opinion,” says Michelle Alexander of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California. Polls now show that 70 percent of Americans believe that some form of racial profiling is necessary, and acceptable, to ensur…