A Super Bowl victory means New York is now home to a world-class football team.
(It’s primarily in Jersey, but who’s to quibble?)
Coach Tom Coughlin, the man everyone wanted fired mid-season, is now seen in a
new light–as a victorious leader.
As the former NFL analyst and coach John Madden liked to say, “Winning is good
Of course, it only masks the smell.
The Coughlin effect may actually be at play for New York City Police
Commissioner Ray Kelly, the leader of a not quite world-class police force. It
isn’t world class if the standard includes having a sense of respect for the
rights and well-being of the diverse communities a police force is assigned to
serve and protect.
But despite numerous calls for Kelly’s resignation and for the installation of
an independent overseer of the NYPD, Kelly is likely to stay on.
Why? Mostly because of the appearance of winning his “Super Bowl,” the war on
terrorism, though his strategies have come at the cost of individual civil
liberties to Shi’as and Muslims, and people of color in New York.
That’s pricey deodorant–and it still smells.
The heat on Kelly has come after yet another AP report revealed a secret
document by the police outlining a policy of surveillance of innocent Shi’as and
Muslims and their mosques in the New York area.
Kelly has long said police only investigate legitimate leads. After the first
Muslim demonstration in Foley Square last November, Kelly’s public statements
denied any spying at all.
But now the document uncovered by AP reveals Kelly’s secret.
He was lying all along.
The department has also been caught lying about Kelly’s involvement in and use
of the propaganda film, The Third Jihad. First, it was said Kelly wasn’t
involved. As it turns out, Kelly has a small part in the film and was
interviewed for 90 minutes by the filmmakers funded by a right-wing group. Then
the department said the film was used by just a handful of officers. Oops. How
about 1,500 cadets in the police academy?
Kelly has since blamed a lowly sergeant for the snafu and has apologized for use
of the film—not for the lies.
When the lies pertain to a policy of profiling for the purpose of scapegoating
an entire community, now you’re talking about the need for a change of
leadership, or at the very least, a monitor to make sure New York still has a
police force that believes in the Constitution.
Not surprisingly, Kelly has his defenders. The Daily News published an
article co-written by former Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge calling the
attacks on Kelly “political correctness.”
A New York Times piece was more of an explanation why Kelly stays on so
long in the job. In a general sense, the philosophy of going after small crimes
to prevent bigger crimes is a winning strategy. But when it comes to warding off
terrorism, that translates into the use of simple profiling, which often means
scapegoating mass numbers of innocents.
As long as it wards off another 9/11, Kelly does as he pleases, and his boss
could care less.
“It’s easy for him and the police force to use tactics that are unsavory, very
un-American, possibly illegal to profile one community,” said Mohammad Ali
Naquvi, a lawyer and activist who helped draft a statement for more than 40
groups decrying the NYPD’s policies.
Naquvi says the intelligence work is marked by a lack of sophistication and
takes on the specious and elementary logic that if terrorists are Muslim, then
all Muslims are terrorists.
That’s no way to fight an anti-terror campaign.
Naquvi likes to cite a 25-year record from the FBI that attributes just six
percent of acts of terror to Muslim groups.
He also points out if the police are warding off Iranian terrorists, going after
all Shi’as makes no sense when less than ten percent of Shi’as are Iranian.
The point is profiling is law enforcement’s lazy way out of doing an important
job. It’s not efficient, it’s not fair, it’s not logical. But that’s fine, if
you don’t care about rights or civil liberties.
And even if you do, if you’re Commissioner Kelly, you just have to look at Tom
Coughlin and believe that every day there’s not another 9/11, you’ve just won
the Super Bowl.