And as for singling people out because of race, you know James Byrd was singled out because of his race, in Texas. And other Americans have been singled out because of their race or—or ethnicity. And that’s why I think that we can embody our values by passing a hate crimes law. I think these crimes are different.
I think they’re different because they’re based on prejudice and hatred, which is — which gives rise to crimes that have not just a single victim, but they’re intended to stigmatize and dehumanize a whole group of people.
LEHRER: Do you have a different view of that?
BUSH: No, I don’t really.
LEHRER: On hate crimes violence?
BUSH: No, I — we got one in Texas, and guess what? The three men who murdered James Byrd, guess what’s going to happen to them? They’re going to be put to death. A jury found them guilty and I — it’s going to be hard to punish them any worse after they get put to death. And it’s the right cost; it’s the right decision.
And secondly, there is other forms of racial profiling that goes on in America. Arab-Americans are racially profiled in what’s called secret evidence. People are stopped, and we got to do something about that. My friend, Senator Spencer Abraham of Michigan, is pushing a law to make sure that, you know, Arab-Americans are treated with respect.
So racial profiling isn’t just an issue at the local police forces. It’s an issue throughout our society. And as we become a diverse society, we’re going to have to deal with it more and more.
I believe though — I believe, sure as I’m sitting here, that most Americans really care. They’re tolerant people. They’re good, tolerant people. It’s the very few that create most of the crisis. And we just happen to have to find them and deal with them.
LEHRER: What — if you become president, Governor, are there other areas, racial problem areas, that you would deal with as president, involving discrimination?
LEHRER: Again, you said Arab-Americans, but also Hispanics, Asians, as well as blacks in this country.
BUSH: Let me tell you where the biggest discrimination comes: in public education, when we just move children through the schools.
My friend Phyllis Hunter’s here. She had one of the greatest lines of all lines. She said, “Reading is the new civil right.” And she’s right. And to make sure our society is as hopeful as it possibly can be, every single child in America must be educated — I mean every child.
It starts with making sure every child learns to read; K-2 diagnostic testing so we know whether or not there’s a deficiency; curriculum that works, and phonics needs to be an integral part of our reading curriculum; intensive reading laboratories; teacher retraining.
I mean, there needs to be a wholesale effort against racial profiling, which is illiterate children. We can do better in our public schools. We can — we can close an achievement gap. And it starts with making sure we have strong accountability, Jim.
One of the cornerstones of reform, and good reform, is to measure because when you measure, you can ask the question: Do they know? Is anybody being profiled? Is anybody being discriminated against? It becomes a tool, a corrective tool.
And I believe the federal government must say that if you receive any money—any money from the federal government, for disadvantaged children, for example, you must show us whether or not the children are learning. And if they are, fine. And if they’re not, there has to be a consequence.
And so to make sure we end up getting rid of a basic structural prejudice — is education. There’s nothing more prejudiced than not educating a child.
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