Sunday, December 20, 2015


I missed last night's Democratic presidential debate, but I see that Bernie Sanders got a question from co-moderator David Muir that was based on unsubstantiated hearsay:
MUIR: ... Senator Sanders, I did want to ask you about a neighbor in San Bernardino who reportedly witnessed packages being delivered to that couple's home, that it set off red flags, but they didn't report it because they were afraid to profile. What would you say to Americans afraid to profile? Is it ever acceptable?

SANDERS: Well, the answer is, obviously, if you see suspicious activity, you report it. That's kind of a no-brainer. You know, somebody is loading guns and ammunition into a house, I think it's a good idea to call 911. Do it.


MUIR: But I'm asking about -- I'm asking about profiling. Because a lot of people are afraid of that.
One neighbor of Syed Farook's mother in Redlands, California, claims that another neighbor saw suspicious activity, but the second neighbor didn't say anything because she didn't want to engage in profiling. As far as I know, no reporter has spoken to the second neighbor to confirm this account, but the first neighbor's version of the story, repeated on a couple of local TV stations, has been accepted as fact.

Shortly after the San Bernardino massacre, the Daily Caller flagged a local news report that included this exchange:
REPORTER: In Redlands, police searched a home records indicate is owned by Farook's mother. Aaron Elswick says his nighbor noticed a lot of recent activity there.

ELSWICK: She had noticed that they had, I guess, been receiving packages, quite a few packages within a short amount of time, and they were actually doing a lot of work out in the garage, and she was kind of suspicious and wanted to report it but she said she didn’t want to profile.”
Elswick repeated this on another local news broadcast:
ELSWICK: They were receiving quite a number of packages, and they were also working a lot in their garage, and I guess she didn't do anything-- sounds like she didn't do anything about it. She didn't want to do any kind of racial profiling. She's like, "I didn't call it in, you know, because I just didn't want to-- maybe it was just me thinking something that's not there."
(Videos below.)

Did this woman really find the activity suspicious enough to want to call the authorities? Or was she just saying to her neighbor, in 20/20 hindsight, "I thought there was something odd about those people"?

When there's a mass shooting involving a regular-American white male, neighbors often tell the media that the guy seemed to have a screw loose and had a lot of guns. But do they say anything to the cops? Well, of course, it's not illegal in America to amass limitless numbers of guns if you have a screw loose. On the other hand, it's not illegal to get a lot of package deliveries and to do a lot of work in the garage -- no, Mr. Trump, not even if you're a Muslim.

Did we fail to prevent this attack because of "political correctness"? We don't know. We don't know if this woman would have said anything under any circumstances, and I'm sure she doesn't know herself. And do we want the alternative -- a country in which non-Muslims call the cops every time Muslims do anything the non-Muslims think is suspicious, even though a lot of that activity is likely to be perfectly harmless? I know what the typical Republican's answer to that would be. But what's the rational answer? And if we're going to do that to Muslims, shouldn't we also do it to white men?

This was a terrible question. But, well, Sanders responded by talking about income inequality, so maybe it doesn't matter.


The New York Crank said...

This brings to mind an incident from my early childhood (circa 1940s). We lived in an apartment building in Brooklyn. The downstairs neighbor didn't like it that, as a terrible two-year-old, I ran around a lot, my tiny two year old shoes thumping on her ceiling.

I remember "the lady downstairs" often banged on her ceiling with a broom handle in rage.

So one day she got a bright idea. No more thumping with broom handles. Instead, she phoned the FBI and told them she heard a still in our apartment and smelled alcohol and thought we were moonshiners. Yes, in a Brooklyn apartment.

Was it "Profiling?" You betcha. My father was a salesman for a company that distributed Johnny Walker scotch and other alcoholic beverages to liquor stores, bars, and restaurants. So there had to be a connection, right?

The FBI actually came. Or maybe it was the alcohol and tax division of the Secret Service after the FBI passed along the hot tip. The Feds, from whatever branch of government they were, made a perfunctory search of the building's basement, looking for distilling equipment or whisky barrels. Instead they found bicycles, the super's locker containing his tools,garbage ready for hauling, and a furnace. They didn't search the apartment because they didn't have a search warrant. They didn't bother to get one, either.The woman "heard" a still? What does a still sound like? What is the sound of alcohol evaporating? Or condensing? How would she have known?

Yes, I agree if you see something, say something. But make sure that what you see is pretty clearly anti-social activity. You know, from what I hear, a man planting a tree is most often just a man planting a tree, not digging a hole to bury a dismembered body.

Yours very crankily,
The New York Crank

mlbxxxxxx said...

That was a bad question, but the worst was from Raddatz about Ocare causing a 27% increase in healthcare costs over the past 5 years. As though a.) that was Ocare's fault and b.) that it is not actually a reduction in the historic increases in healthcare costs. Unfortunately, it caught HRC flatfooted and she did not clarify the record. The impression remained that Ocare was a cost increaser.

Belvoir said...

Just want to say David Muir is an empty suit and an empty head. I enjoy reading gossip how he's a raging egomaniac at ABC News (who watches that?) and a pushy control freak who thinks he's God.

Our national media is truly dreadful, just the worst.