Dollars and Sense

The following comments are taken from:
Barron Takes Aim At City’s Policies Begins run for mayor with call for diversity by Glenn Thrush
January 20, 2004
"We're calling for a racially balanced, gender-balanced administration in New York City," Barron told a crowd of enthusiastic supporters on the steps of City Hall. "Too few white men have too much power."
Bloomberg spokesman Ed Skyler said, "Anyone who thinks they can beat his [Bloomberg's] record is welcome to try."
If elected in November 2005, Barron would be the city's second black mayor. David Dinkins, whose served from 1990 to 1994, was the first. Barron didn't say whether he plans to quit his council seat to run for mayor.
Other possible Democratic hopefuls include former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, former Public Advocate Mark Green, who narrowly lost to Bloomberg in 2001, City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, City Comptroller William Thompson and Brooklyn Congressman Anthony Weiner.
Barron defended his call for reparations, suggesting they should be paid to inner-city residents in the form of free land in their neighborhoods.
"When we call for reparations, it is a just cause," he said. "We're talking about owning land. We built this land for you. There's plenty of land in East New York. That's how you can pay us reparations."

See, now I was with him right up until the reparations issue. Why must it always come back to that? My quarrel with the issue of reparations is that it should be an all or none issue; we either give reparations to all cultures and nations whose repression caused some benefit to another culture or nation, or we don't do it at all.

The idea of reparations is a noble concept, but there is one very critical point being overlooked; Africans in America were not the first and only group of people to ever have been enslaved, and the institution of slavery still exists. Careful study of world history would show that slavery predates American civilisation by many thousands of years. I would even go as far as to say that slavery or the concept of the oppression of one group by another is as old as time itself.

While many Blacks are quick to join in the cry for reparations, there tends to be a deafening silence when you address the issue of other groups who were enslaved or oppressed. What about the early Greeks and Romans who regualrly enslaved those that they conquered during the expansion of their respective empires? What about the African nations who enslaved other groups of Africans? What about Native Americans? Are we so quick to forget that when Columbus and the other "discoverers" arrived here they found an already established culture? What about the Japanese who were placed in camps during the war? What about the millons of women who are even to this day enslaved by cultures that view them as no more than one of a man's possessions?

As nobel as the idea of reparations may be, I believe that a more nobel and pressing issue that we should all be addressing is how to end the continuing practices of oppression and prejudice.


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