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?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.
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.
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 repeated this on another local news broadcast:
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: 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.