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pd29de97 Remarks to the Community in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina...

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[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page i-ii]
Monday, December 29, 1997
Volume 33--Number 52
Pages 2085-2108

[[Page i]]

Weekly Compilation of



[[Page ii]]



Addresses and Remarks

        Community in Sarajevo--2096
        Troops in Tuzla--2099
    Hanukkah celebration--2103
    Race initiative, outreach meeting with conservatives--2085
    Radio address--2095

Communications to Congress

    Bosnia-Herzegovina, letter transmitting report--2093
    Comprehensive Trade and Development Policy for Africa, letter 
        transmitting report--2105

Communications to Federal Agencies

    Deferred enforced departure for Haitians, memorandum--2105

Interviews With the News Media

    Exchange with reporters in the Oval Office--2103

Letters and Messages

    Christmas, message--2102
    Kwanzaa, message--2102

Statements by the President

        Sebastian Arcos Bergnes--2104
        Esther Peterson--2102
        Dawn Steel--2103
    Haitians, deferred enforced departure--2104
    Homeless, assistance--2106
    Oklahoma City bombing trials--2104

Supplementary Materials

    Acts approved by the President--2108
    Checklist of White House press releases--2108
    Digest of other White House announcements--2107
    Nominations submitted to the Senate--2107

Editor's Note: In order to meet publication and distribution deadlines 
during the Christmas holiday weekend, the cutoff time for this issue has 
been advanced to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, December 24, 1997. Documents 
released after that time will appear in the next issue.


Published every Monday by the Office of the Federal Register, National 
Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC 20408, the Weekly 
Compilation of Presidential Documents contains statements, messages, and
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[[Page 2085]]

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 2085-2093]
Monday, December 29, 1997
Volume 33--Number 52
Pages 2085-2108
Week Ending Friday, December 26, 1997
Remarks in an Outreach Meeting With Conservatives on the Race Initiative

December 19, 1997

    The President. First, let me thank you for coming in what must be a 
busy time for all of you. What I think may be the most productive thing 
to do, although Governor Kean, since--[inaudible]--may interject 
something here. I think what I'd like to do, to begin is just to hear 
from you. I'd like to--on the question of, do you believe that race 
still matters in America and is still a problem in some ways? And if so, 
instead of our getting into a big fight about affirmative action--
although if you want to discuss it, we can--what bothers me is that even 
I, who think it works in some ways, believe it works only when people 
who--it works predominantly for people who are at least in a position 
for it to work. A lot of the people that I care most about are totally 
unaffected by it one way or the other.
    So what I'd like to talk about today is that I thought that we could 
at least begin by just getting a feel for where you are and do you think 
it's still a problem, and if so, what do you think we ought to do about 
it. And if you want to talk about affirmative action--[inaudible]--but 
I'm happy to do that.

[Ward Connerly, chairman, American Civil Rights Institute, thanked the 
President and stated that the country has a serious and complex problem, 
but one which does not lend itself to a Government solution. He 
indicated that the Nation could not move forward on the race issue 
without resolving the issue of racial preferences.]

    The President. What do you think we should do? Since there are--
since various racial minorities are represented in groups of people that 
are at least not doing very well in this society, in numbers 
disproportionate to their numbers in the country as a whole, how should 
we respond to that?

[Mr. Connerly stated that school choice, an overhaul of the K-12 system, 
smaller class size, and other educational initiatives were appropriate 
responses. Thaddeus Garrett, Jr., associate pastor, Wesley Temple A.M.E. 
Zion Church, Akron, OH, and former Bush administration adviser, stated 
that he hoped that the day's discussion would not get bogged down on 
affirmative action but rather address race and race relations. He 
indicated that mechanical programs would not change attitudes, and that 
Americans did not relate well across racial lines. He commended the 
President for the Akron meeting on race and said that community leaders, 
beginning with the President, had to provide leadership to address the 
divide and that affirmative action only served to divide the Nation 

    The President. Maybe you can--[inaudible]--maybe for discussion's 
sake, let's assume we abolished them all tomorrow and we just had to 
start all over. What would you do?

[Linda Chavez, director, Center for the New American Community, and 
former Staff Director, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, stated that 
affirmative action put the Government in the role of picking winners and 
losers on the basis of race and that under those circumstances the 
Nation would never get beyond racism. She stressed reaching the 
disadvantaged in society, citing a University of Maryland program not 
aimed at race but at students who are the first in their family to 
attend college. Mr. Connerly stated that in addressing the problem, 
labels should be left behind and the focus placed on people with 
something to contribute.]

    The President. Okay. Let me just say this, first of all. I think, if 
you imagine--forget about--think about what the world would look like 30 
years from now if things go

[[Page 2086]]

well--that is, if all the threats to our collective security--
[inaudible]--restrained and trade develops as we hope it should and we 
develop a decent education system that embraces virtually everybody that 
will work for it. The fact that the United States is becoming--
[inaudible]--multiethnic country that at some point in the next 
generation, in the next 50 years will, for the first time in its 
history, not have a majority of people of European origin, I think will 
make it an even more fascinating, even more interesting, and even more 
prosperous and successful place if we're not consumed or limited or 
handicapped in some ways because of our racial differences.
    So, to me, this is--I'm looking at this through the perspective of 
the future that I want to see our country make for itself. And I don't 
think anyone has all the answers about how we should make that future.
    If you look at--there is no question that--if you just African-
Americans, for example, the middle class is growing and a lot of good 
things have happened. But there is also no question that there are still 
pockets where crime is greater, incarceration rates are horrendous, that 
education systems are not working. And even the people who do have some 
level of it, who are highly industrious, and are dying to get into 
business very often don't have access to credit and don't have access to 
the networks. Affirmative action originally, I think, on the economic 
side was a kind of networking thing, and on the education side it was 
designed to do what you --the Maryland program you just described. I 
think if there was ever a shortcoming in college education--we ought to 
be focusing on people who are educationally disadvantaged without--
[inaudible]--it was that they didn't get the preparation and continuing 
support that they needed. The schools that have done that are much 

[Stephan A. Thernstrom, Winthrop professor of history at Harvard and 
coauthor of ``America in Black and White: One Nation Indivisible'' with 
his wife, Abigail, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, took 
issue with two points made by Mr. Connerly. First, he stated that people 
now know each other better across racial lines than they did a 
generation ago, and offered some examples. Second, he said he found the 
Akron meeting troubling and one-sided and gave examples of the lack of 
dialog. He commented that while most of the discussion was addressed to 
white racism, recent studies showed that among African-Americans, Asian-
Americans, and Hispanic-Americans, each group had stronger negative 
stereotypes about the other two groups than whites did and that as these 
populations grew, the problems would become worse, concluding that the 
issue was not simply one of white racism.]

    The President. But if what you say is true--you say the crime 
problem is disproportionately African-American; that's like saying the 
college population is disproportionately white or the business 
population is disproportionately white. That doesn't justify an 
affirmative action program to--[inaudible]--like Section VIII of the SBA 
    The other day we had a group of African-American journalists in 
here. Every man in the crowd, to a person--there were, like, 20 of them 
here--every man in that office, every single, solitary one, had been 
stopped by the police when he was doing nothing, for no reason other 
than the fact that he was black. And you say that's because there's a 
rational fear because of the fact of what occurs in some neighborhoods. 
Nonetheless, that is a race-based public policy. I'm just saying, it's 
not as simple as----
    Ms. Thernstrom. No, we agree with that. We agree with that. It's 
unacceptable to me.
    Mr. Thernstrom. But doesn't it happen in Detroit, in Atlanta, in 
other States where----
    The President. All I'm saying is it's very difficult to get these 
things out of our society. And you just made one reason why. Let me give 
you another example. Because of the--a lot of work that's been done by a 
lot of people, there's been a dramatic increase in the capacity of the 
United States to limit the inflow of drugs into the country from the 
south by land and sea. But the consequence of that--Mexico, which is a 
big, open country, has had enormous amounts of money invested there to 
try to undermine what little infrastructure there was to deter the 
influx of drugs. Five hundred million dollars was spent last year alone 
trying to bribe Mexican

[[Page 2087]]

police. Now, as a result, over half of the cocaine in this country comes 
across the Mexican border. So, all right, fast forward. What do you do 
if you're a local police officer with a drug problem? That's what this 
whole profiling is about--[inaudible]--to stop people who are Hispanic 
if they're driving through town. That's an affirmative action program. 
That's a race-based affirmative action program. So how do you----
    Ms. Chavez. But Mr. President, some of us are opposed to that. I 
mean, Randall Kennedy has written, I think, very eloquently on exactly 
that issue. And those of us who oppose race preferences when they 
benefit groups are also opposed to them when they harm groups.
    The President. If you were running a police force and you were 
trying to figure out how to deal with the drug problem and you had a lot 
of people who were coming through your town on an interstate and you had 
a limited amount of resources and you couldn't stop every car, which 
cars would you stop?

[Ms. Chavez stated that they should stop every third car and that police 
should be held to the same standard as business. Representative Charles 
T. Canady of Florida stated that it was pernicious for the Government to 
classify people by race because doing so sends a message that people 
should be judged on that basis, which reinforces prejudice despite the 

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