Thomas Sowell

Nothing we can do in the 21st century can redress the wrongs done by people long dead against other people long dead. So we might as well put aside these sweeping definitions of "whites" and "blacks" that extend back through history and talk about those particular whites, blacks and others who are alive today.

As one of those black Americans, I consider it as ridiculous as it would be phony to pretend that I am worse off than if my ancestors had remained in West Africa and I had been born there. They themselves might well have been better off remaining in Africa, but they are not the ones who would get any reparations.

Then there is the question of who would pay the reparations. There are millions of white Americans -- of Jewish, Italian and Slavic descent, for example -- whose ancestors arrived on these shores long after slavery had been abolished. Are they to be taxed to pay reparations for what other people did? And what of people from Asia and Latin America who arrived more than a century after slavery was over? Are they to be taxed too?

Even among those white Americans who lived during the era of slavery, most never owned a slave and didn't have the money to buy one if they had wanted to. Should their descendants be taxed?

Slavery existed for thousands of years on every inhabited continent. Its victims included Europeans, Asians and the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere, as well as Africans.

You are going to have to do some strange gerrymandering of history to say that blacks in America are the only ones to get reparations. What about the Slavs, who were enslaved for so many centuries that the very name slavery derived from their name -- not only in English, but in other European languages and in Arabic?

The painful irony is that those who are crying out against the slavery of the past include many who are trying to impose an enslavement of the mind today through storm trooper tactics.

Those in academia and the media who are cowed into silence look pathetic when compared with those who fought against slavery in the past.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate