Political correctness won't keep New Yorkers safe from terrorists, a state assemblyman said Sunday — promising to introduce legislation allowing cops to use racial profiling to target Middle Easterners when they search bags.
Dov Hikind (search) charged that it's "insane" to look for bombs in the bags of "75-year-old grandmothers," adding, "The FBI and authorities have a good idea of who is going to commit terrorism. They all look similar, but everyone is terrified of using the word 'racial.' "
The Brooklyn Democrat said the NYPD's 10-day-old tactic of randomly checking bags — without regard to race or ethnicity — at subway entrances may be politically correct (search), but it won't save lives.
"There is a terrorist profile for a potential suicide bomber, and it's not the 75-year-old grandmother . . . who has an oversized tote bag firmly tucked under her arm" said Hikind, who called random searches "insane."
Instead, he argued, police should be stopping and searching "people of Middle Eastern descent," with particular focus on young men and women.
"Every case of recent terrorism has been committed by individuals [from a] Middle Eastern country," he said.
"There are certain things you do in wartime that you don't do in peacetime," said Hikind, noting that he has voted against racial profiling in the past.
Conceding that racial profiling (search) by police currently is illegal, he said he will introduce legislation to remove that prohibition, adding he hopes Muslims will support it.
The NYPD, whose random searches began after subway bombings in London earlier this month, quickly rebuffed Hikind's proposal.
"Racial profiling is illegal, of doubtful effectiveness, and against department policy," said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg (search), campaigning in the Catskills, ducked a question about Hikind's idea.
All four of his Democratic challengers — City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields and Fernando Ferrer — said they opposed racially profiling straphangers for searches.
New York Civil Liberties Union's chief Donna Lieberman called racial profiling "discriminatory," and said it "serves no purpose whatsoever.
"It is bad law enforcement, and it is fundamentally at odds with our basic democratic values," she said.
Wissam Nasr, head of the New York office of the Islamic Council on American-Islamic Relations (search), said, "This is America — we don't do that here. That's Racial Profiling 101 — that's what we're trying to avoid."
But Aditya Maharjan, 42, a Hindu immigrant from Nepal who works at Curry in a Hurry in Manhattan, supported Hikind.
"If they can maintain safety, then we'll be safe, too," said Maharjan, even as he acknowledged that his skin color could single him out for such profiling. "Security is the most important thing."
Additional reporting by Stephanie Gaskell, Jenny Leszkiewicz and Elizabeth Rubin.