Oct. 11, 2000 -- LEHRER: Let’s move on. All right — no, let’s move on.
GORE: Far be it from me to suggest otherwise.
LEHRER: First, a couple of follow-ups from the vice presidentialdebate last week.
Vice President Gore, would you support or sign as president afederal law banning racial profiling by police and other authoritiesat all levels of government?
GORE: Yes, I would. The only thing an executive order canaccomplish is to ban it in federal law enforcement agencies.
But I would also support a law in the Congress that wouldhave the effect of doing the same thing. I just—I think thatracial profiling is a serious problem.
I remember when the stories first came out about the stops in NewJersey by the highway patrol there. And I know it’s been going on along time. In some ways, this is just a new label for somethingthat’s been going on for years. But I have to confess that it was thefirst time that I really focused on it in a new way. And I was — Iwas surprised at the extent of it.
And I think we’ve now got so many examples around the countrythat we really have to find ways to end this. Because—imagine whatit — what it is like for someone to be singled out unfairly, unjustlyand feel the unfair force of law simply because of race or ethnicity.
Now, that runs counter to what the United States of America isall about at our core. And it’s not an easy problem to solve, but I — if I am entrusted with the presidency, it will be the first civilrights act of the 21st century.
BUSH: Yes. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be singledout because of race and stopped and harassed. That’s just flatwrong, and that’s not what America’s all about. And so we ought to do everything we can to end racial profiling.
One of my concerns, though, is I don’t want to federalize thelocal police forces.
I want to — obviously, in the egregious cases, we need toenforce civil rights law. But we need to make sure that internalaffairs divisions at the local level do their job and be given achance to do their job. I believe in local control of governments.And obviously if they don’t, there needs to be a consequence at thefederal level. But it’s very important that we not overstep ourbounds.
And I think most people — most police officers are good,dedicated, honorable citizens who are doing their job, putting theirlives at risk, who aren’t bigoted or aren’t prejudiced. I don’t think they ought to be held guilty, but I do think we need to find out where racial profiling occurs and do something about it. And say to thelocal folks, get it done, and if you can’t, there’ll be a federalconsequence.
LEHRER: And that could be a federal law?
LEHRER: And you would agree?
GORE: I would agree. And I also agree that most policeofficers, of course, are doing a good job and hate this practice also.
I talked to an African-American police officer in Springfield,Massachusetts, not — not long ago — who raised this question andsaid that in his opinion, one of the biggest solutions is in thetraining, and not only the training in police procedures, but human —human relations.
And I think that racial profiling is part of a larger issue ofhow we deal with race in America.
And as for singling people out because of race, you know JamesByrd was singled out because of his race, in Texas. And otherAmericans have been singled out because of their race or—orethnicity. And that’s why I think that we can embody our values bypassing a hate crimes law. I think these crimes are different.
I think they’re different because they’re based onprejudice and hatred, which is — which gives rise to crimes that havenot just a single victim, but they’re intended to stigmatize anddehumanize 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 threemen 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 todeath. And it’s the right cost; it’s the right decision.
And secondly, there is other forms of racial profiling that goeson in America. Arab-Americans are racially profiled in what’s calledsecret evidence. People are stopped, and we got to do something aboutthat. My friend, Senator Spencer Abraham of Michigan, is pushing alaw to make sure that, you know, Arab-Americans are treated withrespect.
So racial profiling isn’t just an issue at the local policeforces. It’s an issue throughout our society. And as we become adiverse society, we’re going to have to deal with it more and more.
I believe though — I believe, sure as I’m sitting here, thatmost 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 thereother areas, racial problem areas, that you would deal with aspresident, 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 thegreatest lines of all lines. She said, “Reading is the new civilright.” And she’s right. And to make sure our society is as hopefulas 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-2diagnostic testing so we know whether or not there’s a deficiency;curriculum that works, and phonics needs to be an integral part of ourreading curriculum; intensive reading laboratories; teacherretraining.
I mean, there needs to be a wholesale effort against racialprofiling, which is illiterate children. We can do better in ourpublic schools. We can — we can close an achievement gap. And itstarts with making sure we have strong accountability, Jim.
One of the cornerstones of reform, and good reform, is to measurebecause when you measure, you can ask the question: Do they know? Isanybody being profiled? Is anybody being discriminated against? Itbecomes a tool, a corrective tool.
And I believe the federal government must say that if you receiveany money—any money from the federal government, for disadvantagedchildren, for example, you must show us whether or not the childrenare learning. And if they are, fine. And if they’re not, there hasto be a consequence.
And so to make sure we end up getting rid of a basic structuralprejudice — is education. There’s nothing more prejudiced than noteducating a child.
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