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Friday, February 20, 2004

Apologizing for the past

First let me say, I'm against the idea of reparations. My point of view lumps it in there with frivolous lawsuits; it smacks of something for nothing, a free ride. Slavery was a horrible thing, still is, but so many people have been subjugated throughout history, how far back do you go?

Reparations for American Slaves?
Suing Swiss banks for treasures stolen during the Holocaust?
Returning the Elgin Marbles?

I cannot think of one successful civilization whose wealth was not built on the backs of others. If everyone were to hand over their ill-gotten goods, wouldn't everything end up back somewhere, say, around the Golden Crescent, the Cradle of Civilization? Where do you draw the line?

In the Atlantic, Ben Birnbaum takes an amusing tongue-in-cheek look at Egyptian reparations for the Exodus.


A quick aside, Slaves in the Family by Ed Ball is a fascinating, well-researched book on the saga of his ancestors and the people they owned on their South Carolina rice plantations.

It is my hope to one day complete a similar research project.

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