Reading Norm Mineta

“Civic-minded citizens are not simply born, they must be taught and nurtured,” writes Norman Mineta. In an article published on “Constitution Day,” Mr. Mineta—former San Jose mayor and US Congressman who also served in the Cabinet under both Bill Clinton and George Bush—laments the decline in civic engagement, and expresses his concern that the public education system needs to do more.

“Despite its essential role in our society, civic education has been allowed to decline steadily over the past generation.  As a result, too many of our fellow citizens do not know how our political system works, nor do they possess the skills and the motivation necessary to hold government accountable or to prevent injustice.”

Just what sort of “skills” are needed to participate in the political process? Mineta doesn’t say. And, what does he mean by “motivation?” Again, he doesn’t explain.

Mineta continues: “Even worse, civic ignorance is spread unevenly across the American population: minority students are twice as likely as their white counterparts to lack civic knowledge and skills…”

“Moreover, civic education may be the only way that thousands of new immigrants can come to understand how best to affect change in their new country.  For them and for us, civic engagement is not a luxury, it is a necessity.” 

What’s Mineta’s point?


  1. Pete—I think that he is referring to the fact that there are a lot of ignorant people out there when it comes to knowing how our government operates and what the individual voter needs to know when it comes time to elect any officials.  Primary example is what’s taking places during this election for a new President of the US.  How many people aren’t paying attention to the real issues (substance)  facing all of us—rather they are more concerned with ideologies and social whims.  Perhaps if more time and energy were spent in learning and educating oneself, people would be less likely to be swayed by politicians distorting or even lying about facts they’re using during the campaign.

    Concerned Citizen

  2. Pete,

    If you read the ENTIRE article there should be little trouble understanding Mineta’s “point.”

    In the op/ed piece Mineta relates his personal experience as a Japanese internee during WWII: “In 1942, a disengaged and preoccupied public failed to speak out — just as today too few are speaking out on the erosion of civil liberties, on the pathology of poverty or on threats to our environment.”

    He goes on to add: “On the most recent national civics assessment in 2006, two-thirds of students scored below proficient, and less than a fifth of high school seniors could explain how citizen participation benefits democracy.”

    Here’s a link:

    Make sense now?

  3. Again with the Japanese internment?

    In the op/ed piece does Norm call out the atrocities and war crimes Japan committed in WWII?  My guess is that internment hardships would pale *slightly* when compared to the Japanese treatment of captured POWs and civilians.

    In the op/ed piece does Norm talk about how immediately after leaving Congress he became a lobbyist/whore helping Lockheed to game Congress?  That’d be an awesome civics lesson!

    Just curious, when Norm is getting his car washed is he talking about the Japanese internment with the car wash attendee?  How about when he’s in the supermarket checkout line?

    Good grief.

  4. Why is it that folks who tend to be bigoted and racist always counter the Internment with “…but what about the atrocities and war crimes Japan committed in WWII?” Both are terrible and point out the horrors of war. But the biggest difference is that the United States interned it’s OWN citizens. The two issues are not comparable. If you don’t like Japanese Americans, just say so. Don’t skirt the issue by trying to negate what the US did to it’s own people by bringing up what the Japanese did to US soldiers.

  5. Jimmy Olsen keeper of the super secret racist-detector ring,

    Both were terrible?  Give me a break.
    One was terrible.  Here’s a refresher.

    Did anything like the above happen to interned Japanese in the US?
    Did anything even remotely close to these atrocities happen to interned Japanese in the US?

    Did you know that Germans and Italians living in the US were rounded up and interned too?
    Did you also know that the fate of the free world hung in the balance in 1941?

    I’m sorry, but of all the truly horrible things that happened in WWII the Japanese internment story is barely a blip.

    Norm Mineta and all the “I’m a victim” types need to give us all a break and move on.

  6. Norman Mineta is the quintessential Affirmative Action He-RO, who failed upward.

    Mineta rode the coattails of the Dems in the ‘74 election cycle. After putting in 20 years as a complete do-nothing representative, along came Newt Gingrich and the Republicans, who booted out the Dem leadership, including Mineta.

    So what did Mineta do? He up and quit in a snit, only six months after losing his coveted committee chairmanships—costing his District taxpayers $1.6 million for a special election to name his successor [Tom McClintock].

    Mineta, ever the vermin, then took a job as Vice President of Lockheed Martin Corporation [Mineta had never held a real job, or made a payroll, in his life].

    Mineta was flown—first class—from San Jose to Lockheed HQ in Maryland every Monday, and flew back every Thursday.

    Six months after Mineta had quit Congress, an airport worker turned him in for illegally using his Congressional license plates to park right on the tarmac, bypassing security that we hoi polloi have to endure. Keep in mind that Mineta, as Secretary of Transportation, was the sole reason that Granny had to give up her nail clippers and have her shoes searched at the “Mineta/San Jose Intetnational Airport”.

    “Mineta/San Jose Airport”?? Quid-Pro-Quo? Nah. What does the Secretary of TRANSPORTATION have to do with airports, huh?

    Norman Mineta was the first person with his hand out to receive the $20,000 compensation for being interned during WWII. As a Congressman, he got check #1. But was Mineta beaten and mistreated? Nope: he was in a camp for exactly four (4) months—as a Cub Scout! Then he was released.

    Plenty of other much more deserving Japanese internees didn’t get a dime of the $20,000 that Mineta got, because they weren’t Congressmen. They got nothing but a paper apology.

    If Norman Mineta comes across as a self-serving odious vermin here… that’s because he is.

    Prove me wrong.

  7. Novice,
    War is hell, regardless of what side your on.  I’d imagine there are a few Japanese who believe atom bombs falling from the sky are terrible; an atrocity of the enemy.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m Red, White, and Blue all the way, but we haven’t been exactly innocent ourselves in war time.  Lastly, I don’t think any of us would enjoy being forced from our homes and into desert prisons based on our ancestry/skin color.  Trying to downplay the internment experience, especially if you’ve never experienced it yourself, is downright absurd!

  8. #7 – At least Novice attempts to make his case based on somewhat factual material. You just make stuff up. Pretty pathetic.
    Mineta was replaced by Tom Campbell, not Tom McClintock.
    Mineta ran his own business for many years, making payroll, etc. Do you even have a clue what you are talking about?
    Mineta did not fly from SJ to Maryland every Monday since he lived on the East Coast. Again, your ignorance is overwhelming.
    He was turned in by an airport worker? You wouldn’t have anything to document that would you? I didn’t think so.
    Your comments about the $20,000 are again lacking anything factual. He received the compensation because he was interned. Everyone else who was interned and still alive also received compensation. It had nothing to do with being a Representative.
    Why don’t you just say you don’t like Asians and get it over with? Your factless tirade exposes you for what you are—an ignorant bigot. Thanks for sharing though.

  9. The real problem is too many of our citizens know how our political system really works and have decided it is not worth their time and effort. 

    What can an average citizen do to influence Congress or the President?  Write a letter?  Make a phone call? Such actions are almost quaint compared to the influence of lobbyists and campaign contributions.

    I called my local Congress person to see what I could learn about their views on the pending Wall Street bailout.  The aide did not have a single response to any question other than “the congress person has not made any comments on this issue.”

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