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pd29de97 Remarks to the Community in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina...
<DOC> [Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents] [frwais.access.gpo.gov] [Page i-ii] Monday, December 29, 1997 Volume 33--Number 52 Pages 2085-2108 Contents [[Page i]] Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents [[Page ii]] Addresses and Remarks Bosnia-Herzegovina 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 Deaths 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. WEEKLY COMPILATION OF ------------------------------ PRESIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS 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 other Presidential materials released by the White House during the preceding week. The Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents is published pursuant to the authority contained in the Federal Register Act (49 Stat. 500, as amended; 44 U.S.C. Ch. 15), under regulations prescribed by the Administrative Committee of the Federal Register, approved by the President (37 FR 23607; 1 CFR Part 10). Distribution is made only by the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402. The Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents will be furnished by mail to domestic subscribers for $80.00 per year ($137.00 for mailing first class) and to foreign subscribers for $93.75 per year, payable to the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402. The charge for a single copy is $3.00 ($3.75 for foreign mailing). There are no restrictions on the republication of material appearing in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. [[Page 2085]] <DOC> [Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents] [frwais.access.gpo.gov] [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 further.] 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 better. [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 program. 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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