See Something, Say Something—Only if You’re a Racist

If you want to report suspicious activity, you'd better be right

WASHINGTON - JULY 01: A member of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's entourage stands at Union Station following her launch of the "See Something, Say Something" campaign and to announce a new national information-sharing partnership with Amtrak July 1, 2010 in Washington, DC. The "See Something, Say Something" campaign aims to engage riders in public security by reporting suspicous activity or items.

A member of former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s entourage stands at Union Station following her launch of the ‘See Something, Say Something’ campaign and to announce a new national information-sharing partnership with Amtrak July 1, 2010 in Washington, DC. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

We’ve all heard it before—on the metro, the subway or at the airport. “If you see something suspicious, say something,” President Barack Obama said on Monday.

While this sounds good—citizens protecting other citizens by remaining vigilant—in practice, someone actually following this advice had better be right about the suspicious activity they witnessed, or else they risk being labeled a racist.

Look at what happened with Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old who dismantled a clock and rebuilt it in the most bomb-like way possible. He brought it to class, caused a disruption and was briefly detained by police. His school saw something suspicious (a clock that looked suspiciously like a bomb) and said something.

For that, the school was branded as racist, Mohamed was personally invited to the White House by Obama, and he and his family are now suing the school.

Mohamed was treated as a victim of Islamophobia, and the fear of being labeled as such has permeated the country.

Remember the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California? Neighbors of the shooters said they had noticed “suspicious activity” but were afraid they’d be accused of profiling.

“She was kind of suspicious and wanted to report it,” neighbor Aaron Elswick told ABC of another neighbor after the shooting, “but she said she didn’t want to profile.”

Had these neighbors reported something at the time, and been wrong, the media, the Obama administration and organizations like CAIR would have rushed to call the neighbors Islamophobic.

Obama made his claim about seeing something and saying something in response to the bombs planted in New Jersey and New York this past weekend. The bomber, Ahmad Khan Rahami, was apparently inspired by Osama bin Laden and other terrorists.

Two years ago, his own father told authorities he thought his son was becoming a terrorist. The FBI reviewed the case but didn’t find any reason to continue their investigation. Omar Mateen, the man who killed 49 people at a club in Orlando, had also previously been on the FBI’s watch list. So I guess, as an aside, we should be wondering what it takes for someone to actually be suspicious to the FBI.

Even politically correct New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio received backlash for sending out a mass text alert about Rahami. The city sent out an emergency alert that said: “WANTED: Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28-yr-old male. See media for pic. Call 9-1-1 if seen.”

De Blasio was accused of creating a “panic” by deploying the emergency alert. The city and the mayor were trying to catch a dangerous criminal, and all they got was a backlash.

On CNN on Tuesday, the network added the word “racial” when discussing GOP nominee Donald Trump’s comments about profiling, insisting they knew what he really meant. Trump didn’t say anything about what attributes should be profiled, yet CNN claimed in a chyron that he was supporting “racial profiling.”

There is no way to have an honest conversation about terrorism. If someone actually does what Obama told people to do on Monday, they’ll get labeled racist or Islamophobic. People are now afraid to report suspicious activity because the media and the Obama administration have made it a personal risk. No one wants undue profiling, but sometimes people do things that seem suspicious, and people shouldn’t be worried about being labeled as racists if they’re wrong.

Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media.

See Something, Say Something—Only if You’re a Racist