Walter E. Williams

On black people's side of the ledger, thorny issues also arise. Some blacks purchased other blacks as a means to free family members. But other blacks owned slaves for the same reason whites owned slaves -- to work farms or plantations. Are descendants of these blacks eligible and deserving of reparations? There is no way that Europeans could have captured millions of Africans. They had African and Arab help. Should Congress haul representatives of Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Muslim states before them and demand they compensate American blacks because of their ancestors' involvement in capturing and selling slaves?

Reparations advocates make the foolish unchallenged pronouncement that United States became rich on the backs of free black labor. That's utter nonsense. Slavery has never had a very good record of producing wealth. Think about it. Slavery was all over the South. Buying into the reparations nonsense, you'd have to conclude that the antebellum South was rich and the slave-starved North was poor. The truth of the matter is just the opposite. In fact, the poorest states and regions of our country were places where slavery flourished: Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia while the richest states and regions were those where slavery was absent: Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts.

The Senate apology is nothing more than political theater but it could be a slick way to get the camel's nose into the tent for future reparations. If the senators are motivated by white guilt, I have the cure. About 15 years ago I wrote a "Proclamation of Amnesty and Pardon Granted to All Persons of European Descent" that is available here.


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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