Mokhiber: Ari, could I follow up on that?
Randall Robinson of TransAfrica Forum has written a book on this called
The Debt: What America Owes To Blacks. He says it's not just history
from 200 years ago. He calls for reparations to African Americans for
the present day racism that stems from 240 years of slavery.
If I could just read you this one sentence: "No race, ethnic, or
religious group has suffered as much and so long as blacks have and
still do at the hands of those that benefited from slavery and the
century of legalized American racial hostility that followed it."
So, exactly how is it different from compensation to Japanese
Ari Fleischer: Russell, in the President's speech to the Urban League
today, the President stressed that there are real problems that America
faces today as a result of racial disparity. He cited education, as well
as the need to bring people together in this country. The gap between
African American reading scores and white American reading scores is
wide and it needs to be closed.
The President wants to focus on issues that will do the most to help
people have a chance in life and that involves a focus on education.
On the question of the upcoming conference in South Africa, the
President believes that one of the best ways to combat racism here and
now is through democracy. Very often, non-democratic nations of the
world create the greatest threats and problems in terms of racial
injustice and ethnic violence. That's the President's approach to it.
Again, I can only answer as I did to Terry -- the President, just like
President Clinton, does not support reparations. He differs with Mr.
Mokhiber: I understand. But one further follow-up. The U.S. government
actually wrote a check to Japanese Americans. They didn't say -- we'll
improve the education system, or improve the welfare system or whatever.
They wrote checks to groups of people. Why not write a check in this
Ari Fleischer: Asked and answered.