Slavery Reparatiions

Paying slavery reparations would only increase racial hostility, Libertarians say

WASHINGTON, DC -- A renewed demand by African-Americans for slavery reparations should be rejected because such payments would only increase racial hostility, Libertarians say.

"The battle cry for reparations has far more to do with the color green than with the colors black and white," said Steve Dasbach, executive director of the Libertarian Party. "Forcing people who had nothing to do with slavery to pay others who were never enslaved is the height of injustice and will only exacerbate racial tension in America."

The issue of slavery reparations was thrust back into the public limelight again last weekend as nearly 3,000 African-Americans rallied on the Mall in Washington, DC, to demand monetary compensation for slavery and decades of racial discrimination.

Featured speakers at the event, organized by the Millions for Reparations Committee, included Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam, and U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), who has introduced legislation to study the reparations issue. The crowd roared in approval when Rev. Farrakhan declared that black Americans "cannot settle for some little jive token" from the U.S. government and are entitled to a large cash payment for past injustices.

But that approach will only deepen the racial divide, Libertarians say.

"Millions of white Americans who have no reason to dislike blacks may find one the moment they're forced to pay a race tax," Dasbach said.

"The only people who will benefit will be the pandering politicians who get to dole out the money - as race relations get worse."

"Besides, decades of other race-conscious government programs, such as minority set-asides and hiring quotas, have actually expanded the racial divide. Instead of learning from those failures, politicians seem determined to create more of them."

"Justice also demands that the only individuals who are punished are those personally responsible for violating the rights of others," he said.

"No one alive today had anything to do with the morally repugnant policy of slavery," he said. "So confiscating their money for reparations amounts to punishing people for crimes committed by someone else - more than 100 years ago."

"And what of Asian-Americans, Latino Americans, and other immigrants whose ancestors never even owned slaves?" asked Dasbach. "What sense does it make to force them to pay reparations?"

Although Libertarians don't support slavery reparations, here's one thing the party urges African-Americans to demand from the government: freedom.

"Blacks should demand freedom from taxation, which keeps too many in poverty; freedom from the Social Security system, which deprives too many of a secure retirement; and freedom from the Drug War, which confines too many to prison," he said.

"Gaining independence from government programs like these would improve the lives of African-Americans far more than slavery reparations ever could."

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For release: August 20, 2002

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