Senate Slavery Apology

Walter, Williams, Creators Syndicate, July 8, 2009

{snip}

It goes without saying that slavery was a gross violation of human rights. Justice would demand that all the perpetrators–that includes slave owners, and African and Arab slave sellers–make compensatory reparation payments to victims. Since slaves, slave owners and slave sellers are no longer with us, such compensation is beyond our reach and a matter to be settled in the world beyond.

Absent from the reparations debate is: Who pays? Don’t say the government because the government doesn’t have any money that it doesn’t first take from some American. So which Americans owe black people what? {snip}

Are the millions of Europeans, Asians, and Latin Americans who immigrated to the U.S. in the 20th century responsible for slavery and should they be forced to cough up reparations money? What about descendants of Northern whites who fought and died in the name of freeing slaves? {snip} What about non-slave-owning Southern whites, a majority of whites; should they be made to pay reparations? And, by the way, would President Obama, whose father is Kenyan and mother white, be eligible for a reparations payment?

{snip} Some blacks purchased other blacks as a means to free family members. But other blacks owned slaves for the same reason whites owned slaves–to work farms or plantations. Are descendants of these blacks eligible and deserving of reparations? There is no way that Europeans could have captured millions of Africans. They had African and Arab help. Should Congress haul representatives of Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Muslim states before them and demand they compensate American blacks because of their ancestors’ involvement in capturing and selling slaves?

Reparations advocates make the foolish unchallenged pronouncement that United States became rich on the backs of free black labor. That’s utter nonsense. Slavery has never had a very good record of producing wealth. {snip} In fact, the poorest states and regions of our country were places where slavery flourished: Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia while the richest states and regions were those where slavery was absent: Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts.

The Senate apology is nothing more than political theater but it could be a slick way to get the camel’s nose into the tent for future reparations. If the senators are motivated by white guilt, I have the cure. About 15 years ago I wrote a “Proclamation of Amnesty and Pardon Granted to All Persons of European Descent” that is available at: www.gmu.edu/departments/economics/wew/gift.html

[Editor’s Note: Other articles on the Senate apology are listed here. The full text of the Senate apology can be read here. Scroll down to the second story.]

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