June 15, 2010 11:31 am ET - by Matt Finkelstein
Last night, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) took to the House floor to defend Arizona's new anti-immigration law against concerns that it will lead to racial profiling. During his speech, the Iowa congressman reiterated his belief that racial profiling is an "important component" of law enforcement, as long as it's not used "for the reasons of discriminating against people." Then, he told a story about how he was profiled by a taxi driver who suspected that he needed a ride, saying that Arizona officers can also target illegal immigrants using other factors — like "what kind of shoes people wear" and "a sixth sense."
KING: Some claim that the Arizona law will bring about racial discrimination profiling. First let me say, Mr. Speaker, that profiling has always been an important component of legitimate law enforcement. If you can't profile someone, you can't use those common sense indicators that are before your very eyes. Now, I think it's wrong to use racial profiling for the reasons of discriminating against people, but it's not wrong to use race or other indicators for the sake of identifying that are violating the law. [...]
It's just a common sense thing. Law enforcement needs to use common sense indicators. Those common sense indicators are all kinds of things, from what kind of clothes people wear - my suit in my case - what kind of shoes people wear, what kind of accident [sic] they have, um, the, the type of grooming they might have, there're, there're all kinds of indicators there and sometimes it's just a sixth sense and they can't put their finger on it. But these law enforcement officers, if they were going to be discriminating against people on the sole basis of race, singling people out, that'd be going on already.
Back in April, Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) made similar comments, saying that "trained professionals" can identify illegal immigrants based on their clothes.
King's latest encouragement of racial profiling comes on the heels of controversial remarks he made yesterday, first reported by PoliticalCorrection.org, suggesting that President Obama has a "default mechanism" that causes him to favor "the black person."
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