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April 13, 2009
Enough Already: I Don’t
Owe You Any Reparations
Instead of silencing chatter about financial reparations for slavery,
Barack Obama’s election has, for too many, spurred new discussions on
The Reparations Movement has openly pleaded with Michelle Obama to
launch a national debate on reparations. Some forces are urging the U.S.
government to attend the 2009 UN World Conference against Racism, which
the U.S. is boycotting in part because of the reparations issue (not to
mention that the sponsoring committee is chaired by a Libyan, and has
vice-chairs from such human rights paradises as Iran, Pakistan, Cuba and
Russia – quite consistent with the UN’s usual mockery of human rights).
The Tennessee legislature has recently been engaging in a heated debate
about apologizing for the past sin of slavery. Even some gay activists
are now jumping on the reparations bandwagon in a feeble attempt to
attach themselves to the far more compelling African-American story.
those American blacks demanding reparations, I want to tell you that I
agree with you. I agree that if you find any man or woman who has
enslaved you or participated in enslaving you, you should milk them for
all they’re worth. And I will be extremely happy to help you do it.
But if that doesn’t happen, don’t talk to me about reparations. I don’t
owe you a dime.
The terror that was slavery ended nearly 150 years ago, and both its
victims and villains have long been buried. Yet today, the likes of
Jesse Jackson are demanding not only apologies, but also financial
compensation, from legislators who represent neither slave-owners nor
Even if we accept the farcical arguments that today’s descendents of
slave-owners are guilty for their ancestor’s sins, and that descendents
of slaves are as victimized as the slaves themselves, the case for
reparations remains untenable for a variety of reasons.
Many black American families were never slaves, whether they lived here
prior to the Civil War or immigrated afterwards. In fact, they might
have been profitable participants from the slave trade themselves. Many
more Americans descend from families who never owned slaves, and who
moved here after the end of slavery. In fact, they were probably
persecuted as well.
Millions of immigrants came to America to avoid death and oppression at
the hands of European monarchs, and more recently communism and Islamic
radicalism. I myself was born into the Lebanese civil war, and in a
country that had at some point been ravaged by the Ottomans, the Mamluks,
the Seljuks, the Arabs, the Romans, the Macedonians, the Assyrians, the
Armenians, the Persians and others. Even the French managed to colonize
the land back when they knew how to fight wars. Should I demand
reparations from each?
These occupations usually involved some combination of enslavement,
death, starvation and persecution. And some of them took place more
recently than the American Civil War. So, again, by what twisted logic
am I, now a U.S. citizen, supposed to hand my hard-earned cash over to
Al Sharpton and Jeremiah Wright?
Logic doesn’t matter. In
my recent visit to Obama’s 20-year spiritual home, Trinity United
Church of Christ, I witnessed first-hand the dreadful strategy of some
radical black leaders – convince black Americans that they are still
enslaved, even if not noticeably. Burn into them the idea that their
skin color is their primary identity. Brainwash their children into
believing that they are growing up in a vicious, racist society that
does not accept them as full human beings.
What these leaders don’t answer is: Where in the world would blacks be
better off? Africa, where, if they were not enslaved or forced to join a
militia at the age of six, they would die of starvation and disease?
Japan, were they would never be embraced by a homogenous society? Or
France, where they would be relegated to the impoverished suburbs and
turned into expert car-torchers?
Not only did the likes of Sharpton and Jackson never suffer through
slavery, but they are far better off than their distant cousins in
Africa – due to the deplorable ordeal of their ancestors.
fact, it is today more desirable to be black in America than it is to be
white. One needs to look no further than a current movement by some
Arab-Americans to be classified as anything other than “white,” so they
are no longer discriminated against by colleges and employers.
Meanwhile, anyone with a hint of African blood proudly proclaims his
blackness and gets showered with special opportunities because of it.
every measure, America has given me fewer opportunities than Jesse
Jackson. So who should “repair” whom, after all? At the moment, the
louder whiner has the advantage. And Jackson whines pretty loudly.
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