Bush Administration`s Political Profiling vs. “Racial Profiling”

Back in prehistoric times, before
Sept. 11, citizens who follow the administration of the
Department of Justice may recall that Attorney General
John Ashcroft kept saying that his
first priority was to fight
racial profiling. After Sept. 11, that seemed a
rather peculiar objective, but even before, with
millions of illegal aliens roaming the country, it
should have struck most Americans as odd.

Now we know that the commitment was
even odder than it appeared, since the Justice
Department, under Mr. Ashcroft`s control, has tried to
cover up a major study showing that blacks violate
speeding laws more than other racial groups. If the
study is accurate, it might be used to justify racial
profiling—maybe even justifiably.

The Washington Times

last week
that Justice in 1999 agreed with the state
of New Jersey to study the race of drivers who violate
state speed laws. A research group called the

Pacific Institute
undertook the study, which found
black drivers were nearly twice as likely as whites or
Hispanics to break the laws when the posted speed limit
was 65 miles an hour. When the drivers` speed is more
than 90 miles an hour, the violators are black even more

Well, now, we can`t have that
busting into the newspapers over the morning coffee, can
we? It`s bad enough that after all the
pandering to both blacks and Hispanics in the last
election, President Bush still
performed miserably among voters of both groups, but
now his own Justice Department is about to come out with
findings that say blacks

really do speed more than whites
and implying that
blacks getting more speeding tickets is not very
surprising or even unfair.

Clearly, the study had to gurgle
down to the bottom of File 13.

The gurgler-in-chief in this case
was Justice Department munchkin Mark Posner, who quickly
reached the convenient conclusion that the study was
almost certainly flawed. "Based on the questions we have
identified," Mr. Posner wrote in a letter to New Jersey
officials, "it may well be that the results reported in
the report are wrong or unreliable." [“Report saying
blacks speed more held up,”

Washington Times

March 22, 2002]

Well, maybe so, but then the report
was simple enough in the way it was conducted. Radar
guns and high-speed cameras were used to identify the
race of some 38,000 drivers on the New Jersey turnpike.
Only those whose speed was 15 miles an hour above the
limit were identified.

Why Mr. Posner thinks the
conclusions reached may be "wrong or unreliable" we`re
not told.

One researcher who worked on the
study, Robert Voas, doesn`t agree. "We looked at
numbers, and that`s what the report shows. We`re quite
confident in its validity."

What we can be quite confident of
is that the Justice Department,

for reasons of racial politics
, suppressed the
study—because it wants to pose as the foe of racial
profiling, because it wants to avoid the brickbats of
"racism" that professional race-baiters have been
smacking it with since even before it took office, and
because it would really like to pick up more black votes
than the pathetic and embarrassing
8 percent it won in 2000.

It`s the Bush administration that`s
open to doubt as to its credibility on racial issues –
not the report it refuses to publish.

New Jersey itself has an interest
in seeing the truth about race differences in speeding

come out
. It was in New Jersey that the

over "racial profiling" led to the
forced resignation of the

chief of the New Jersey state police
and the federal
government`s forcing the state to adopt new policies
that supposedly discouraged profiling.

But the ugly truth is not only that
the Bush Justice Department is suppressing a study that
ought to be published but also that policies now in
place may be endangering the safety of drivers of all

If police ticket black drivers more
than white drivers, not because they`re black but
because they do in fact violate speeding laws more
often, then no injustice is being committed against
blacks. If police, for fear of being charged with
profiling, ignore speeding violators because they`re
black, they`re

letting dangerous drivers escape—and thereby endangering
all drivers

Americans have a right to know
whether racial differences in speeding violations are
real, and the best way to find out is to publish the
study the Department intended to publish until it came
up with conclusions the Department and the
administration didn`t want to hear.

White police officers may have

lost their careers or been punished
for what could
have been entirely justifiable practices, and whites as
well as blacks may have lost life and limb because some
black speeders were allowed to get away—so the Bush
administration can preen in the next election about how
its first priority was to fight a practice that may
never have existed.


March 28, 2002