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Enslaving Their Own
June 6, 2001

As Josef Stalin lay dying, he summoned two possible successors and handed each a sparrow. The first, fearful the bird would fly away, squeezed his fist so tightly that it suffocated. The second, not wanting to repeat his rival's folly, held his sparrow so lightly that it struggled free and escaped. Scornful of both, Stalin ordered a third bird. While they watched, he plucked each feather from the tiny creature till it lay shivering in his hand, powerless. "You see," the dictator sneered, "now he is thankful even for the warmth of my palm."

The tyrant's lesson lives on: If you want to subjugate a people, strip them of initiative, rob them of ambition, convince them they are victims entirely dependent on your favors. That poison has been pumped through America's inner cities. Word on the street is that white people hate you, refuse to hire you, rig the SATs against you, execute you at disproportionate rates, ply your young with drugs, and deprive your elderly of health care.

This gospel of oppression profits its preachers. Wrote Booker T. Washington, "There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs - partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays."

And pay we will - on a global scale - if the latest scheme by the race hustlers succeeds. The Washington Times reports that "African demands for slave-era reparations from the former colonial powers are threatening to paralyze an upcoming UN conference on racism." The African Group preparing for the World Conference Against Racism, to be held in Durban, South Africa this September, has drafted an apology calling slavery a crime against humanity and will ask the industrialized world to ransom this historic wrong.

Trading in human beings is abhorrent in the extreme, and justice should require restitution by any slave-owner. But the perpetrators are long dead, as are their victims, and no lawful authority can hold an entire nation responsible for a modern offense, much less an ancient transgression.

Even if it were possible to prosecute a hemisphere, other complications abound: Who exactly would pay? How much? And to whom? Will descendants of the African traffickers who facilitated the 18th and 19th century slave trade pay or receive reparations? Will blacks who owned slaves break even? And what should be done for the Westerners who were themselves enslaved? (The word "slave" actually comes from the Slavs, Europeans who were enslaved for centuries before the African slave trade.) In America, the vast majority are descended either from immigrants who arrived after the Civil War or from whites who were not slaveholders. Will we still be required to pay?

The truth is that no one will pay because attaching a once and for all pain price-tag would put the profiteers out of business. This latest effort to expand the ghetto vendetta is merely a large-scale attempt at the Stalin strategy, not by white oppressors, but by black leaders fomenting defeat among their own. Success for them is not a settlement, for they do not want money so much as power, and if the victim class - or countries - could be contented, the demagogues would lose their constituency.

Justice then is liberation not from old bonds already broken, but from those who still traffic in victimization. As for redressing the historic grievance, that is not the duty of the living, but the right of an Eternal Judge whose eye is on the sparrow.

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