Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Slavery Reparations Scam

In a recent column in the Boston Globe, Jeff Jacoby wrote about the apology of the giant Wachovia Corporation. Wachovia remorsefully apologized for past ownership of slaves, and, of course, promised to help fund organizations involved in ''furthering awareness and education of African-American history."

But wait--Wachovia was founded 14 years after slavery was outlawed by the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865. It seems, though, that two of the 400 or so firms that were merged with or acquired by other institutions that eventually became part of Wachovia actually did own slaves. As Jacoby said,

In other words, [Chairman Ken] Thompson's apology was for something Wachovia didn't do, in an era when it didn't exist, under laws it didn't break. And as an act of contrition for this wrong it never committed, it can now expect to pay millions of dollars to activists for a wrong they never suffered.

This happened because Chicago, like some other cities, passed a politically correct ordinance requiring that any company doing business with the city investigate and disclose any historical ties to slavery. Once such a disclosure has been made the slavery reparations crowd moves in for the payoff. Jacoby concluded,

America long ago paid the price for slavery: a horrific Civil War that killed 620,000 soldiers, more than half of them from the North. It is as vile to insist that white Americans today owe a debt for slavery as it would be to insist that black Americans owe a debt for freedom. What the reparations extremists are demanding would make a mockery of historical truth and inflame racial strife. Their cynicism is toxic, and corporate America had better find the courage to say so.


Blogger Marinade Dave said...

Somewhere down the long line of ancestry, someone from my family migrated here from Germany. Should I be compensated by the German government for that relative who did not allow me my European birthright? I agree with you.

And, thank you, Tom, for the very nice comments. I just noticed the stem cell one today, along with the other one. I really do appreciate it.

2:10 PM, June 14, 2005  
Anonymous miyna said...

i feel sorry for you. while i agree that monetary compensation is out of the question, what's wrong with a Congressional apology for their failures toward black people. there has never yet been one, Civil War notwithstanding (and there were plenty of other reasons behind that uprising - slavery was just a convenient addition to the list).

8:01 AM, June 15, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Miyna, I'm glad you agree that monetary compensation is out of the question. That's what the reparations movement is all about, although rather than "compensation" I think I'd term it "extortion."

I don't think I've commented on the idea of a congressional apology. It would be an empty, meaningless gesture motivated only by political expediency and a diversion from the more serious issues Congress ought to be dealing with. Other than that, it's OK with me, as long as it doesn't involve taking more money away from me to give to someone else.

And by the way, thanks for feeling sorry for me. It's always nice to know that someone out there cares.

9:17 AM, June 15, 2005  
Blogger Anastasia said...

We've had similar things here. And I do agree with your post.Aboriginal groups have petitioned for a National Sorry Day but the federal government hasn't made that official and our Prime Minister refuses to apologize to Australian Aboriginals for policies of the distant past. This is not to say the past policies aren't acknowledged by our government they are, in all branches of education etc, Australian Aborigines are actually given preference - a lot like affirmative action. For example, they have all avenues (in study, education etc) open to them but many still prefer to eke out their existence doing other things or relying on social security.

The other argument that's used is based on a lengthy policy of institutional racism and how such a policy destroyed family foundations (children being removed from families and so on). The Australian Aborigines, like the North American Indians had a difficult time integrating into 'white society'/culture and because their cultural practices weren't mainstream, they experienced difficulties integrating their own selves (attitudes etc) with mainstream society. But, this doesn't excuse current poverty when these sectors recieve a bulk of benefits.

How can a person, who lives 'now' apologize for actions - they aren't responsible for - that took place how many generations prior? Yes, they can acknowledge it and make certain it doesn't occur again, but to continually sit there and apologize each 'year' is counterproductive.

In many ways it reminds me with the usual rubbish I have to deal with, which I stumbled upon as a late teenager. I had no idea about Greek-Turkish hatred until 17.
The Ottoman Occupation ended in 1821, but today, there is this continual hatred (that migrants continue to fire). I'll hear a person (from my culture) say something like,'But they did this', and I just don't bother arguing anymore because it's a waste of energy here in Australia.

4:00 AM, June 16, 2005  

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