26 July 2007

The Lonely Voice of Justice (BR)

About the only ink afforded to Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich after his performance at Tuesday's CNN/YouTube debate was in reference to his dubious distinction of having the lowest-testing moment of the night among focus groups.

He earned the enmity of these political taste-testers by being the only person on a panel of eight candidates, including one black man, who is openly in favor of the payment of reparations to African-Americans for the crime of slavery.


It's worth mentioning that this performance by Kucinich tested lower than a statement by Mike Gravel that American servicemen "died in vain" in Vietnam and are doing the same thing in Iraq today.

Maybe most Americans see an increasing black middle class, and the ascension of African-Americans to prominent and valorous positions in society -- like, for example, legitimate contender for the presidency -- and see the broaching of the topic of reparations as dredging up old unpleasantness and resurrecting a dialogue about race that we were never very comfortable taking part in, and decide that the whole thing is an anachronism and some karmic statute of limitations has expired.

Or maybe we're just used to the government not having to pay for hurting people.

The practice of kidnapping black Africans to America and forcing them and their children to work without pay was tolerated, regulated, and therefore endorsed by the United States government for the first 87 years of its existence. Millions who should have enjoyed rights equal to any other citizen instead were denied them wholesale, and could look forward to nothing other than pitiless oppression and endless toil, and release only in the form of death.

Was our government coddling the American Indians when it "reserved" some land for them to live on after defeating the natives in war? Should individuals today who abduct and hold victims against their will not have to answer for their actions? The United States, great and glorious though we are, for a time democratically sanctioned the trafficking of human beings like cattle, in violation of principles enshrined elsewhere in our laws. See the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution.

This is not abstract conceptualizing. Our legal system is based on a standard of justice whereby an injury to one party, materially and/or by denial of rights protected by law, must be repayed by the injurers, in direct monetary compensation or by forfeiture of their own rights.

Congressman Kucinich is not my preferred candidate for president, but he is no lunatic for understanding this very simple principle and applying it honestly to the topic of reparations. The unpopularity of his comment speaks less to his being out of touch with voters and more to how out of touch many Americans are with the ideals we claim to venerate.

16 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This is not abstract conceptualizing. Our legal system is based on a standard of justice whereby an injury to one party, materially and/or by denial of rights protected by law, must be repayed by the injurers, in direct monetary compensation or by forfeiture of their own rights."

You forget two important principles of American law here. First is the statute of limitations and second the idea that each man is responsible for his own actions. If you get into this concept of reparations, how far back will this go? 200 years? 300? Millenia?

Also, why should I as a taxpayer be forced to pay reparations for crimes commited by ancestors of mine so far back that I can not remember thier names against the ancestors of others for whom the realtion goes so far back that they can not remember the names?

11/28/2007 12:27 AM  
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Quite simply, we should all pay because the prosperity we have enjoyed, and continue to enjoy, by the accident of being born here in America owes quite a bit to labor performed by black slaves.

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