According to Nielsen, 37.5 million viewers, presumably including the great majority of journalists, watched the second presidential debate between George W. Bush and Al Gore on October 11, 2000 in which Bush denounced the racial profiling of Arab air travelers by airport security trying to prevent skyjackings:
You can see Gore nod at Bush’s anti- Flying While Arab racial profiling ploy with professional respect, “Well played, sir, you bastard.”
This bit immediately followed the highlight of the debate for Bush, when Al Gore brought up James Byrd, the Emmett Till-Rodney King of the era, a black criminal murdered by three white criminals in Bush’s Texas, in order to promote a Hate Crimes law. Bush responded that the three murderers are going to be executed by the state of Texas so [tiny smirk], he doesn’t see how much more punishment they can be subjected to after they are dead:
And yet, eleven months later, virtually no journalist remembered this moment or connected the dots.
Indeed, the new Bush Administration followed through strongly on the candidate’s promise, appointing Democrat Norman Mineta to be transportation secretary. Mineta repeatedly explained that any heightened scrutiny of Arab air travelers was tantamount to his having been interned in 1942 for being Japanese-American. Mineta launched a well publicized inquiry into racial profiling by disparate impact at the Detroit airport in June 2001. From UPI:
UPI ARCHIVES JUNE 5, 2001
ROMULUS, Mich., June 5 — The federal government is investigating complaints that Arab-American airline passengers are unfairly targeted for security screenings at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
The U.S. Department of Transportation began Monday a three-week survey at Metro Airport to determine whether minority groups are singled out for additional searches of their baggage. …
“While the security procedures are not based on the race, ethnicity, religion or gender of passengers, we also want to assure that in practice, the system does not disproportionately select members of any particular minority group,” said spokesman Norman Mineta.
For at least the last decade, Arab Americans and African Americans have complained that they are unfairly subjected to searches by airport security officers and U.S. Customs agents.
“Airline profiling continues to be a challenge for the Arab-American community,” says Imad Hamad, director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. “We have been witnessing a lot of complaints, and it has been alarming.”
Racial profiling and religious harassment are the most severe forms of discrimination faced by local Arab Americans, according to a recent report released by the Michigan Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission in the United States. About 200,000 Arab Americans live in Metro Detroit, one of the largest concentrations in the United States.
Researchers in the federal study will collect data such as race, religion, national origin, gender and citizenship of passengers boarding Northwest Airlines flights leaving Metro Airport. The Department of Transportation expects to survey more than 300 flights and about 40,000 passengers through June 29, except Sundays.
Hamad and other Arab-American community leaders are urging members of their community and other minorities to participate in the study.
“Maybe the results … will get officials to wake up and smell the coffee and put an end to this selective treatment of Arab Americans,” Hamad said.
Rather than learn from the events of 9/11 and at least lock the barn door after the horse had run off, Mineta responded to 3,000 Americas being murdered on his watch by airliners under his purview by burning down the barn door. From Mineta’s Wikipedia page:
On September 21, 2001, Mineta sent a letter to all U.S. airlines forbidding them from practicing racial profiling; or subjecting Middle Eastern or Muslim passengers to a heightened degree of pre-flight scrutiny. He stated that it was illegal for the airlines to discriminate against passengers based on their race, color, national or ethnic origin or religion. Subsequently, administrative enforcement actions were brought against three different airlines based on alleged contraventions of these rules, resulting in multimillion-dollar settlements. He showed his intention “absolutely not” to implement racial screenings in reply to the question from Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes right after 9-11. He later recalled his decision “was the right thing (and) constitutional”, based on his own experience as one of Japanese-Americans, those who had “lost the most basic human rights” by being discriminated against and interned during the Pacific War.
So too bad for the 3000 and their loved ones, but Mineta lived happily ever after:
The Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport in San Jose was named after him in November 2001 when Mineta was serving as Secretary of Transportation. … He left office as the longest-serving Secretary of Transportation in history.
An epistemological point I try to make is that there really isn’t all that much Fake News in terms of outright hoaxes in the press. Instead, there is an intractably vast abundance of news, countless facts which people can’t be expected to remember unless it fits into a well-worn narrative, usually about who or what is Good and who or what is bad.
For example, if racial profiling pushed by George W. Bush had contributed to 9/11, you’d never ever hear the end of it. After all, we all know, racial profiling is bad and 9/11 was bad, so of course racial profiling caused 9/11. Who could ever forget that?
In contrary, the high likelihood that George W. Bush’s anti-racial profiling campaign contributed to 9/11 … well, DOES NOT COMPUTE. Being against racial profiling is good but Bush was bad, so how can you fit the fact that Bush was against racial profiling into your narrative. Further, being against racial profiling is good while 9/11 was bad, so how can bad things flow from good things?
Thus, out of the billions of words written about 9/11, there have been very, very few references to this counter-narrative narrative. If I do a google search for:
bush debate 2000 “Arab-Americans are racially profiled” 9/11 mineta
I get 12 hits, half of them by me.