Mind Bytes on Reparations - September
L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to Newsmax.com
Word is out. Advocates of reparations for slavery have let
it be known that the issue is not going away anytime soon. To
prove their point, there's a load of lawsuits for them to refer
High-profile lawyers claiming to represent the descendants
of slaves are suing corporations that allegedly were unjustly
enriched due to the existence of slavery.
For those who favor extraction of payment for ancestral wrongs
but prefer an alternate to the lawsuit, there's the legislative
route. Various politicians have hinted that they may support
some form of reparations. As the voices increase, we can look
forward to like-minded leftists across the country jumping on
the transfer-of-wealth bandwagon.
Monetary magnetism aside, there are three swirling masses
of problems that threaten to hit us head on should we venture
down the reparations freeway.
Remuneration of this type would be unjust, illegal and ultimately
- The suggestion that one person pay for the wrongdoing of
another violates a fundamental moral maxim: It is inherently
unfair to hold a person accountable for an offense committed
- Black Americans who are descendants of black slave owners
or descendants of black suppliers of slaves would theoretically
have to pay rather than be compensated. A determination of this
kind would be difficult, if not impossible, to make.
- Descendants of other wronged parties from our nation's past
will quickly begin to queue up. Descendants of Chinese railroad
builders, of women who were denied the right to vote or work,
and of soldiers who were killed or wounded in a war that, in
part, was fought to end slavery will get in line.
- A significant number of citizens happen to be descendants
of immigrants who came to this country in the early part of the
latter century. Others are part of a more current tide of immigration.
The ancestors of these groups had no part in American slavery.
- The entire notion of reparations is saturated with hypocrisy.
It is an attempt to punish a class of people on the basis of
skin color. If held to a consistent standard of logic, the same
individuals who are behind the reparations movement would be
compelled to call this type of action what they themselves have
defined it as being profiling.
- The idea of punishment for ancestral wrongs is arguably violative
of the constitutional prohibition against Bills of Attainders
in Article I.
- There are serious problems with Due Process, as set forth
in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.
- The civil law requires that damages be reasonably ascertainable.
Due to the long period of time that has transpired since the
alleged harm, as well as the difficulty of distinguishing the
wrongdoers from the victims, damages could never be calculated
with any kind of precision.
- The notion of reparations for slavery sets back the civil
rights movement. The ideal principle of a level playing field,
which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. promoted, is thrust aside. In
the process, a once noble endeavor is reduced to permissible
- The discussion of reparations distracts from the bona fide
issues that face the black community today, including illiteracy,
poverty and shattered homes.
- The so-called leaders of the reparations movement are likely
to pocket much of the cash. A hefty portion of a theoretical
reparations payment would undoubtedly be funneled in the direction
of lawyers, politicians and organizations run by the Jesse Jacksons
and Al Sharptons of the nation.
The bottom line is that reparations for slavery cannot be
administered in a just, legal or effective manner. But should
reparations advocates get anything near what they're asking for,
what we will end up with is the Mt. McKinley of slippery slopes.
Reproduced with the permission of
. All rights reserved
L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
All Rights Reserved