Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Writing at The New York Observer, Nick von Hoffman notes the racist pedigrees of the senators who failed to support last month's resolution apologizing for over a century of refusal to end lynching, and makes a powerfully compelling case for reparations. He sets it up with this:

"The Republican performance on this harmless resolution reinforces Howard Dean’s recent remark about the G.O.P. being white and Christian. His words, which were received with such indignation, are more or less a statement of fact—and not even a new one. Everybody in politics knows that the Republican Party set out to win the anti-black South years ago and has done so.
Racial antipathies in their less violent forms have been strengthened by the party’s alliance with Southern religion. White Southern Christianity has a history of supporting slavery, the black codes, discrimination and intolerance toward people of color stretching back 200 years. In the 1950’s and 60’s, when some northern and western Christian denominations remembered their abolitionist past and backed the civil-rights movement, the white churches of the South did not, and it is they who have supplied the moral dynamic of modern Republicanism."
Then he delivers the goods:

"There is no statute of limitations on atrocity. Crimes only become ancient and beyond restitution when the wounds inflicted are no longer carried in living hearts. The massacres of Armenians by the Turks and the Turkish government occurred almost 100 years ago, but for many Armenians those things were done yesterday. The same is true for Native Americans.
We know the names of many—probably most—of the murdered people. We have the means to find their families and offer a substantial financial compensation. There is compensation for the Holocaust’s survivors and families. We have compensated the families whose relatives died in the World Trade Center, where fewer perished than have been lynched and where it was not Americans who committed the crime. That’s well and good, but then what do we owe the victims of crimes committed not only by American individuals, but by the government as well?"
Nothing gets up the backs of the good white people of the heartland like the idea of handing over their hard-earned money to the families of blacks or Indians who never did nuthin' for it except to be robbed, tortured and massacred by the (let's face it)millions. Black slave labor made the magnificent architecture of our nation's capitol possible. The wholesale theft of Indian living space made it possible for us to convert bountiful resources into historically unprecented wealth. But let's let bygones be bygones, and not discommode the comfortable with the truth about their debts. A piece of paper causes less fuss, and buys off a lot of troubled dreams...that is, for those with enough conscience left to be troubled.

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