February 26, 2007
Already Been Repaired, Jesse
weeks ago, Virginia Delegate Frank Hargrove said that “Virginia’s blacks
need to get over slavery,” causing an uproar in the black community.
Granted, perhaps his views were not very delicately stated. But if we
look at the core of his statement, is it really that appalling? What
exactly would be so bad about blacks moving on from the issue of
slavery? They are surely not expected to forget it or hide it. But they
certainly would do well to stop using it as a political tool. The
reality is that slavery and its horrors ended more than 140 years ago,
and both its victims and villains have long been dead. The issue of
slavery now belongs to the history books – not in political campaigns.
leaders of the black community bring up a history of slavery in order to
score points with their constituencies and even lawmakers. We saw an
example of this behavior in recent weeks, when the Virginia legislature
passed a resolution apologizing for the role that the commonwealth
played in slavery. It was a nice thing to do, though a little strange
considering the fact that the representatives who voted for the apology
represented neither slave-owners nor slaves. Yet despite the stretch on
behalf of the legislature to provide some sort of closure to the issue,
black leader Jesse Jackson said that the apology did not go far enough,
and that it did not provide for reparations for the damage.
are not the only ones with an ancestry that had a difficult past. The
first Chinese immigrants did not exactly enjoy the American dream when
they worked on the railroads. The families of many Jews now living in
the United States had to wait until the very end of 1941 before America
finally decided to stop Adolf Hitler (and some of these victims are
still alive, unlike black slaves who have long been dead). The Native
Americans’ ancestors lost their land and their livelihood to white
settlers. And all of this, of course, is not to mention the millions of
immigrants who came to America to avoid death and persecution at the
hands of the Ottomans and European monarchs, and more recently
communism, civil war and Islamic extremism, among other calamities.
are the descendants of these victims, and in some cases the victims
themselves, less deserving of apologies and reparations than the black
community? Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton never suffered through slavery.
As far as they are concerned, their lot has improved – if it were not
for slavery, today they would be living in Liberia, Togo or Gabon. If it
is that for which they really want reparations, well, they can go back
there right now and live like kings on even mediocre savings by American
that it is acceptable to enslave people if their descendants can live
better lives. But it already happened, and we had nothing to do with it.
In fact, we strongly condemn it and have effectuated policies – some of
which have lasted more than they need to, mind you – to ensure equal
opportunity for all. But now that we are here, we would be wrong to
ignore the facts: On the whole, today’s American blacks received their
reparations by virtue of being born in the United States.
I am a
recent immigrant to the United States. Not only did my ancestors in
Lebanon have nothing to do with slavery in America, they were in fact
the victims of their own tragedies at the hands of ruthless occupiers
that have for centuries ruled my native land. I myself grew up in the
midst of a civil war, and was forced to spend much of my early years in
bunkers or in refuge. The period following the war saw my country in
ruins, coupled with social and economic deterioration. I would have
given anything to live in America, even as a “deprived,”
“disenfranchised” member of society, as Jackson claims “his” people do.
Now that I finally made it here, I am not about to give Jackson my money
just because he is better at whining than I am.
fact that so many black leaders continue to insist that they are
deserving of reparations is truly mind-boggling. American blacks are
born in the best country in the history of the world. They have laws
protecting them against any potential racism they might face at the
hands of employers or the government. They get to check off a little box
on their college applications that does magic to their admission
chances, whereas the children of Holocaust victims do not. They have
their own history month, for crying out loud. Heck, they might very well
provide us with our next U.S. president. Just relax, Jesse Jackson, I
think it safe to say that you have been very well repaired.
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