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Published on Wednesday, August 1, 2001
Ari the Evader by Russell Mokhiber...
Ari & I
White House Press Briefing with Ari Fleischer
Wednesday, August 1, 2001 1:30 PM
by Russell Mokhiber

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 Americans?

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. Robinson.

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 case?

Ari Fleischer: Asked and answered.



-Thanks to Russell Mokhiber

White House reporter Russell Mokhiber is the editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter - He co-authors the weekly Focus on the Corporation column with Robert Weissman which Common Dreams publishes. He can be reached at:


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