A reply to Albert Golfieri’s Sept. 8 letter about “Repatriation.” The issue of paying reparations to the descendants of Black slaves is important.
In referring to slavery, he wrote, “A wrong was made and then it was made right. They were freed.” Really? The slave trade involved the kidnapping of Africans from 1619 and ended with the Civil War in 1865. They lived in slavery as human property, by law unable to vote or own a home. Can you say, “Now you’re free, so we’re even, right?”
Imagine a loved one spent 20 years in prison for crime DNA evidence later proved he didn’t commit. Can you say, “Now you’re free, so we’re even, right?” No chance to raise a family, work in a job or career, build equity in home or 401(k). Just forget the past, right?
Mr. Golfieri incorrectly gave examples to prove that just changing the policy made things right; therefore, no compensation needed. Let’s do some fact-checking:
He said Japanese Americans were rounded up in the United States, stripped of their money and homes, and then placed in concentration camps. In fact, the Japanese Claims Act of July 2, 1948, established a $100 million fund to compensate at the rate of $20,000 each.
His second example concerned Germany’s treatment of Jewish people in World War II. In fact, Germany paid the equivalent of $7 billion to Israel and to the World Jewish Congress with the German Reparations Agreement of 1952.
Over 50 years of apartheid in South Africa was ended in 1991. It was preceded by laws in 1913 that forced Blacks to live in reserves and making it illegal for them to work as sharecroppers. When apartheid ended, reparations were paid to victims and Truth and Reconciliation Commissions were established.
Righting the wrongs of prior generations means doing the right thing now, even when it means paying reparations to the victims and descendants.
Marvin J. Rudnitsky,