Reparations for slavery?  Or discrimination against light-skinned citizens?
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Last Updated January 30, 2004

Reparations = Racism

Jan. 30, 2004:  Federal Judge rules AGAINST Reparations Lawsuit.  See Reparations News

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          Racial McCarthyism -- The new war cry:  "If you are against reparations you are a racist, a bigot, or worse!"  So much for free speech and diversity of ideas.

            When author David Horowitz tried to run an ad in college papers titled "10 Reasons Why Reparations for Slavery is a Bad Idea -- and Racist Too" many colleges refused the ad; others had all their newspapers stolen from stands.

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Ward Connerly described opponents of the Horowitz ad as "supporters of skin-deep diversity".  Connerly roundly criticized the Daily Californian, the Berkeley student paper which is one of many which censored the ad. See Connerly Letter 03/08/01Be sure to review the reparations news clips (see the index at the bottom of this page).

Reparations Facts and Discussion Points:  Who really benefited from slavery?  Who should fund any such reparations?  Who should be excluded from helping to finance such reparations?  How many billions of dollars have already been paid to so-called "historically disadvantaged minorities"?  Remember, when Congress makes payments, it uses your tax dollars to do so.  Here are some thought-provoking questions and historical facts.
The last slave ship arrived in the U.S. in 1808 It is statistically likely that your white ancestors immigrated to the U.S. after 1808.  Should post-1808 white immigrants be excluded from helping pay for reparations? Should descendants of blacks who arrived in this country after 1808 be excluded from receiving reparations?
Other beneficiaries of slavery. What about the neighboring African tribes who sold their neighbors into the slave trade?   Shouldn't they help pay a substantial portion of reparations? Shouldn't descendants of the Spanish and Portuguese sailors who transported the slaves to the U.S. pay a substantial portion of the reparations?
In 1861, less than 10% of the white U.S. population owned slaves. Should only the white descendants of slave holders have to finance these reparations?  Shouldn't white descendants of non-slave holders be excluded from financing this farce?
Slavery was abolished in 1865. Thousands of white Union soldiers died fighting for the abolition of slavery. Should the descendants of the soldiers who fought to end slavery, many of whom were injured, maimed or killed, be paid reparations, too?
In the mid-1800's, thousands of non-military whites placed themselves at great risk by promoting abolition, and/or by operating the underground railroad. Shouldn't the descendants of the abolitionists and the operators of the underground railroad receive money from this reparation fund?  At the very least, shouldn't they be excluded from paying for it?
How many white Americans arrived in this country after the abolition of slavery? Should post-1865 white immigrant-Americans be excluded from helping to pay reparations since they never owned slaves?
Japanese-Americans interred in camps in the U.S. during WWII have been paid $20,000 for reparations.  So why shouldn't blacks be compensated for slavery? ARGUMENT:   In 1988, the U.S. issued an apology and paid $20,000 to each Japanese-American who was taken from his/her home and held in internment camps during World War II from 1941 to 1945.  Therefore shouldn't black descendants of the U.S. slave trade receive similar compensation? ANSWER:   NO!  The differences between the two situations are several, and quite significant. 

First, the $20,000 compensation to the Japanese-Americans was paid to the individuals and/or their families who actually were interred in camps during WWII.  Slavery reparations are not similarly targeted toward the immediate victims.

Second, the alleged descendants of slaves who are seeking such a huge subsidy are many generations removed from their ancestors who were subject to slavery in the U.S.

Third, and most significantly, any black alive today who alleges economic harm as a result of slavery -- whether provably related to a U.S. slave or not -- has had the benefit of (a) 135 years of no slavery; and (b) 36 years of "reparations" already paid in the form of job quotas, racial preferences, and race-based targets and goals (since passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964). 

Trillions of dollars have already been paid to 'minorities' in compensation for alleged historic discrimination.           Consider this:  In the 36 years since the passage of the original Civil Rights Act of 1964, trillions of dollars in federal transfer payments, welfare payments, racial job quotas, race-based federal contract set-asides, and race-based college admissions have already been paid to so-called "historically disadvantaged minorities" in the U.S.

          After 36 years of preferential programs and billions of race-based payments, why haven't the so-called "disadvantaged minorities" been able to compete in American society by now?  Could it possibly be due to the fact that Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Kweisi Mfume preach "perpetual victimhood" to their skin-deep followers? 

Be sure to also see:  More Historic Facts Against Reparations

Slavery Reparations: A Misguided Movement

Excerpted from the Prof. Peter H. Schuck article
which appeared on Dec. 9, 2002 in the
University of Pittspurgh's School of Law publication "Jurist"

          "Let us stipulate -- because it is manifestly true -- that American slavery was a horrendous crime and a moral abomination. Let us further stipulate that this crime had countless victims and that their descendants still experience adverse effects today, seven generations later. Finally, stipulate that our society subscribes to an ideal of corrective justice that recognizes a legal duty compelling wrongdoers to remedy wrongfully-caused losses and to surrender wrongfully-obtained gains. Does this require the payment of reparations by the federal government to . . . somebody? Does it justify such reparations?

          "My answer to both questions is no -- and not just because of uncertainty about who the "somebody" would be, although as we shall see this poses a serious practical problem.

          "Here are just a few of the numerous implementation problems that a reparations law would need to solve.

          "First, how would it define the beneficiary class? Would it include all blacks in the U.S. or only those descended from slaves? If the former, what about [recent, post-slavery] immigrant blacks and how would "black" be defined in an increasingly multi-racial society? If the latter, what about descendants of free blacks?

          "Second, how would the beneficiaries prove their entitlement? Absent a clear definition of black (who would judge?) or reliable documentary evidence of descent (surely lacking in most cases), what presumptions would be accepted and how could they be rebutted?

          "Third, would beneficiaries have to show that American slavery caused their current condition?  [Editor's Note:  Under the American system of justice, civil courts (lawsuits) and criminal courts (prosecution of crimes) require such proof of wrongdoing, criminal acts, or harm.]  What if they would otherwise have been killed or enslaved by their African captors, or sold to non-American masters?

          "Fourth, should all taxpayers bear the cost of reparations, or only those descended from slaveowners or from those who lived in the slave states? The list of such technocratic questions - none of them fanciful - could be extended endlessly.

          "Even though affirmative action does not entail direct payments for past discrimination, most supporters view it as a compensatory program; the greater economic opportunities it affords its beneficiaries do constitute a kind of reparations and are intended as such. After more than 30 years of affirmative action -- and my work on a comprehensive article on this subject in 20 Yale Law & Policy Review 1 (2002) -- several effects seem clear. (Many other effects, both good and bad, are more debatable).

          "First, the number of individuals who are now eligible for preferences dwarfs the group that they originally and most compellingly targeted -- the descendants of slaves and the victims of Jim Crow. Today, the eligible groups include other categories (women, Hispanics, Asians, and sometimes the disabled) as well as millions of immigrants of color whose ancestors did not experience slavery here.

          "Second, law's inherently technocratic modalities have tended to (literally) de-moralize affirmative action programs. By implementing preferences through a system of contestable definitions, measurements, sanctions, regulations, and litigation, the law has politicized, bureaucratized, and trivialized what was once a moral project.  ... [T]his moral imperative can be served better in other ways.

          "Third, affirmative action's unpopularity, even among many members of the beneficiary groups, has created new barriers to inter-racial reconciliation and heightened the salience and divisiveness of race -- precisely the opposite of the advocates' originally goals.

          "The competition for greatest victimhood is almost inevitable both for political reasons and for a legal one; standard equal protection doctrine invites such comparisons in order to determine the appropriate standard of review. This competition is not an edifying sight -- and not just because we lack a common metric for measuring and comparing injustices of this kind. It often descends into an ugly struggle for public resources, recognition, recrimination, and moral status among people who have already suffered enough and who should be the last to view injustice as a zero-sum game.

          "Is slavery the greatest injustice in American history? Probably so, but I would not expect Native-Americans whose ancestors were systematically exterminated by the U.S. Army to readily cede the point.

          "Were the indentured servants of the colonial period or the Chinese coolies of the nineteenth century more harshly treated or less deserving of reparations than the Japanese internees? What about the internees' Japanese ancestors who were not permitted to own farmland, marry whites, or enter professions? What about the Irish immigrants who were forced by hateful discrimination to live in conditions arguably as degraded as slave cabins? Should we view their whiteness as an emblem of privilege sufficient to redeem their long suffering without further recompense?


          "The movement for black reparations, however well-intended, is misguided. Indeed, it is perverse in its propensity to discredit the very ideal of corrective justice that it invokes, to aggravate bitterness rather than assuage it, and to make reconciliation more difficult.

          "Our obligation now is to engage with and learn from the past, and then to move forward by turning the page. As we turn it, we must not forget that we are leaving behind an endless catalog of crimes, tears, and scars of the lash, of prejudice, and of poverty. We must leave this human misery and injustice behind, but not out of mind or conscience. We already have a long agenda to challenge our moral faculties and remedial imaginations as we assess our responsibilities to one another both now and in the future."

Last known link to the original Peter H. Schuck article:

BIOGRAPHY:  Jurist's guest Columnist Peter H. Schuck is the Simeon E. Baldwin Professor of Law at Yale, where he teaches Torts; administrative law; immigration and refugee law; remedies for governmental wrongs; groups, diversity and the law and other subjects. He is the author of the forthcoming Diversity in America: Keeping Government at a Safe Distance (Harvard/Belknap, April 2003) and The Limits of Law: Essays on Democratic Governance (Westview, 2000).
Professor Schuck holds MA and JD degrees from Harvard Law School and an LLM from New York University. He served as Deputy Dean of Yale Law School from 1993-94.

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*  We use the term reverse discrimination reluctantly and only because it is so widely understood.  In our opinion there really is only one kind of discrimination.