Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Slavery Reparations...NOW!

When I was but a gifted youth, my mother told me a story about how her grandmother erupted into an explosion of violent fury upon returning from the grocery store one day in 1911. My mother knew, from her grandmother's hoarse yelps and the infamous spittle dripping off her lips, that there was a serious problem. The truth was that she was cheated by the grocer. Upon checking her receipt, she realized that she was overcharged for some pork. (This was, obviously, long before my family boycotted the pork industry for their unwillingness to support necrophilia -- to say nothing of my vegan diet today.) Without money in her purse, they faced the prospect of no food, no health care, and no housing.

Fast forward to last week at the food coop, when I approached a cashier and demanded $5 in reparations in the name of my great grandmother. Yes, the legacy of supermarket duplicity has left its bitter mark on me, placing me at a societal disadvantage and forcing me to carry the burden of victimhood throughout my entire adult life.

Let's listen to the interchange at the food coop:

Me: I demand five dollars in reparations.

Cashier: Excuse me?

Me: How dare you question my claim to what is my right, you scummy ra
cist pig!

Cashier (Obviously feeling the pain of moral guilt): Let me get the manager.

Me (Shouting after the slave driving filth): You can't escape from your obligations, and the abuse that my people endured under your oppression!

Manager: Can I help you, Sir?

Me: Talk
is cheap from the class enemy; let's see some action. I demand reparations!

Manager: Sir, we would be happy to help you if you would explain yourself.

Me: Don't patronize me, white man! A grocer cheated my great grandmother in 1911, and now you owe me reparations!

Manager: Sir, we have nothing to do with that grocer.

Me: Is this food coop not a grocer? Maybe you can fool the common person, but now you are going up against three PhDs!

Manager: I'
m very sorry that your great grandmother suffered a misfortune in 1911, but you have to realize that we...

Me: I am not demanding reparations for myself, I am demanding justice for all the other victims of 1911 grocer theft! As an altruist, I am doing this
on their behalf! And as a scheming descendant of a corrupt industry, you are still profiting from the money that your industry stole from these people! An entire class of people! A class of people who require action! I demand justice, and I demand justice NOW! Do you understand, or (waving my cell phone in his face) do I call my lawyer now?

Manager (Handing over a $5 coupon): Sir, the food coop apologizes for what has happened. Please accept this coupon as a recognition of what we owe you.

Me: I'm not done with you yet, fascist! You haven't seen the last of me!

Now, multiply the above incident by several million, and you can see the challenge that faces us today. Millions of people of color (to say n
othing of womyn, gays, lesbians, veterans, Muslims, felons, physically challenged, developmentally delayed, emotionally unbalanced, the hungry, the poor, the cold, the warm, the tall, the short, the old, the young, the overweight, the underweight, the just right, etc., etc., etc.) have a claim on white men, and in particular, white men who are "successful"; i.e., those that have plundered the poor to get rich by way of capitalism.

The solution is two-fold. First, reparations must be made. Second, slavery must end.

In the court of morality, you are guilty of everything if any of your ancestors were guilty anything. And you are guilty of everything if you look like anyone whose ancestors might be guilty of something. And you are entitled to justice if you look like someone who might have had an ancestor wh
o was a victim. That, friends, is what objective law looks like.

And yes, those concepts are hard for the non-academic mind to grasp, so let's just say that the above criteria is the same as saying that white equals guilty. (Some racists might think that grandchildren of a black rapists should therefore also be held accountable for their ancestor's crimes. However, such thinking is racist in itself, and people with such offensive thoughts are especially lia
ble for making reparations payments.) And that's why we look to respected religious leaders and presidential candidates to show the way to a future of reparations.

But of course, reparations for past slavery will not suffice. We must end slavery today, right here in America. When I see segregation, I see slavery. When I see prisons containing People of Color, I see slavery. When I see any inequality whatsoever, I see slavery. Reparations, though vital, are merely short-term remedies. In the long run, inequality itself must be abolished. When no one is better off than anyone else, we'll finally be able to say that slavery is over. When our society is finally able to prevent anyone from "getting ahead", we'll have long last achieved social perfection.

For now, though, I need to return to the food coop.


Anonymous said...

I am disappointed to see that your discussion of reparations fails to touch on the most important aspect of the whole issue--preemptive reparations for the as-yet unborn victims of exploitation. On the one hand, giving rights to hypothetical future persons is a concession to the right-wing religious factions that control this country. On the other hand, how can we call ourselves a society if we do not set aside resources in anticipation of future acts of discrimination? I propose that we change our outlook--instead of calling them "the unborn," let's refer to them as "the not-yet victimized." Then we can advocate on their behalf with a clear conscience.

Professor Peter Kurgman, PhD, PhD, PhD said...

Mr. Anon:

Unlike your dark forecast of a future of victims, I have a sunny and cheerful outlook on life. In the future, we will either be:

A) Equal by Revolution, or

B) Extinct, because our putrid species is too foul to inhabit the purity of this planet.

Revolution or human extinction. They are both desirable precisely because they equalize all humans. And in both cases, there will be no victims.

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