Mark Nuckols

In a rare triumph for common sense in Washington, it is being reported that the Justice Department intends to allow “tactical leeway” to the FBI to use ethnic profiling. This is welcome news for the security of our country.

Profiling and stereotyping are a fact of life. Liberals vehemently argue that our law enforcement agencies should be prohibited from employing any form of profiling, arguing that you can’t tell anything significant about a potential terrorist just based on their religion, ethnicity or nationality. As is often the case, liberals manage to deny reality and embrace hypocrisy in one fell swoop.

Liberals quite liberally use profiling and stereotyping for their own purposes, but they would never admit it. But I experienced profiling daily when I was a student at Georgetown University Law Center. Georgetown is an elite school that prides itself on “diversity,” but I didn’t see many students there like myself. I come from a small village in rural southside Virginia, never finished high school and only have a distance learning college undergraduate degree.

The fact that I am broadly read, self- educated, write well, and outperformed most of my classmates on exams meant little to my more privileged classmates and professors with tony social pedigrees. To them I was still just an ignorant redneck, and my expression of conservative views was usually dismissed with a sneer and putdowns along the lines of “well, you’re just a dumb hick, so shut up.”

Well, it’s true that many stereotypes have some basis in fact. It’s true that most people from my hometown haven’t read Proust (a boring French guy who is nonetheless the platinum standard if you want to display sophistication). And they shamefully don’t know the difference between Pouilly-Fume and Pouilly-Fuisse. But they’re generally decent law abiding and patriotic Americans, which in elite educational institutions makes them de facto “bad” people.

My own philosophy is that stereotypes have some limited value, if used properly, and are one of the ways we make sense of a complicated world. I do assume someone with a diploma from Harvard is smarter than someone without a high school degree, as my classmates did. But I also use his stereotype as nothing more than a starting point, and sometimes people confound my initial impressions based on stereotyping. Unfortunately, at Georgetown, there is a presumption that if you’re from small-town middle America, you’re a hick and nothing will change that judgment.

Mark Nuckols

Mark Nuckols teaches law and business in Moscow. He has a JD from Georgetown and an MBA from Dartmouth. He has lived in Eastern Europe for most of the last 20 years, including Russia, Ukraine, Slovenia, and Georgia.