L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 80, July 10, 2000
Crimes and Guilt
I'm Not Guilty
by Carl Bussjaeger
Special to TLE
ABCnews.com has a rather biased piece running just now called "Atoning For Slavery". It purports to be a report on the current state of the effort to compensate African-Americans(*) for the "harm and indignities of slavery and its legacy of discrimination."
It's an interesting notion, and it obviously appeals to the brain-dead and outright greedy. After all, slavery is a bad thing, and the victims of such would be owed restitution, right?
Only ... The victims are all gone; there are none left. Slavery in this country ended (counting from the Emancipation Proclamation, and never mind that it didn't apply to the whole country - just those "bad" southern states) about 135 years ago. Who's left to compensate? Those who were actually victimized by slavery are dead and gone. It's too bad they didn't always get restitution from their ex-owners before all parties actually involved died off, but that's life. And death. Restitution is as much a moot point as a point can get.
Unless you're greedy. Or stupid. If the latter, listen up, the Declaration of Independence only addressed the pursuit of happiness; it didn't guarantee that hoped-for condition. Which leaves greedy.
"Oh, no, Mr. Carl!" I hear someone whining in a shrill childish pitch. "We aren't greedy, we only want justice!"
Justice, my ass. Is it justice to demand that the great-great-grandchildren of northerners who believe they fought the Civil War to free slaves now pay people who were never slaves for failing to free slaves a little sooner? Or maybe this pretend-compensation will only be levied on those in the southern states which participated in the Confederacy. Now, would that be just the descendants of slave owners, or everyone, including those (the vast majority, in fact) who never owned a slave. Lessee ... that would encompass the southerners who maintained the underground railroad, correct?
Then, of course, we have folks like yours truly. My great-grandfather didn't even come to North America until well after slavery was outlawed here. And he came from a place that had done away with that sickening institution before the United States got around to it. I'm not exactly looking forward to the prospect of paying taxes to compensate some whiner for a wrong that I never committed and which he never suffered.
I thought the religious notion of original sin was pretty silly, and this is even worse. At least in the other case, the social redistributionists masquerading as guilt-sowers were intelligent enough to blame an imaginary set of miscreants from whom we were all supposedly descended.
But they still can't seem to get away from the moronic notion that a person is somehow responsible for actions committed by another, over whom he had no control.
If anyone wants slavery compensation from me, he might as well stick a gun in my face like any other mugger.
But he'd better be faster on the draw then I, and a better shot.
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CTHULHU for PRESIDENT: If you're into voting, you might as well go all out.