Senate Apology for Slavery Fuels Demand for Reparations

Thompson PhotoLast week, the Senate passed a resolution apologizing for slavery. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported:

The resolution, sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, passed on a voice vote. It now moves to the House, where it may meet an unlikely foe: members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Several Caucus members expressed concerns about a disclaimer that states that “nothing in this resolution authorizes or supports any claim against the United States; or serves as a settlement of any claim against the United States.” Those caucus members say the disclaimer is an attempt to stave off reparations claims from the descendants of slaves. “Putting in a disclaimer takes away from the meaning of an apology,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. (pictured)

In 2004, NLPC published a report critical of the demand for slave reparations. The report, “The Case Against Slave Reparations,” which was updated in 2008, argues that paying slave reparations is immoral. Virtually every ethnic and nationality group in America suffered from hardship or oppression in the lands from which they emigrated from and, in many cases, in this nation. White-indentured servants in the colonial era, Chinese and Irish laborers in the 19th century, and factory workers of many different backgrounds experienced grueling conditions. It is not just to single out African-American descendants of slaves to compensate on the theory that their suffering was uniquely different than those of other Americans.

This nation has paid for slavery. The more than 600,000 deaths during the Civil War is a testament to the anguish and bloodshed this country put itself through to eradicate this unjust institution. America ushered in the New World of individual freedom and democratic self-governance. That doesn’t mean it didn’t inherit many of the vices of the Old World. What matters is that this nation worked diligently to eradicate those vices.

The demand for reparations is nothing more than another attempt by liberal activists to dramatically increase government spending to supposedly improve social conditions. The trillion-dollar boondoggle called the War on Poverty shows the enormous futility and waste of the activist government approach.

Americans are confronted with some of the most serious economic challenges of the post-World War II era. The unemployment rate is 9.4 percent and the federal deficit is projected to hit $1.8 trillion this year. These are the real challenges lawmakers should be trying to address. For some members of Congress to dwell on apologies and reparations on behalf of slaves who are dead is absurd and a dereliction of duty.

President Obama claims that he is a post-racial President. He rightly argues that the best way to undo the damage of slavery and segregation is for all Americans to put the past behind us, pursue our dreams, and build a better future. If the President truly believes in that magnanimous message, he should reject congressional efforts to pay slave reparations or apologize for slavery itself.