Calculating the incalculable

When Washington Post writer Colbert King invited readers to respond to the idea of paying reparations to the descendants of African-American slaves, he got a mailbox full of opinions. “I’m all for reparations for blacks,” said one. “By the way, as a descendant of Anglo-Saxons, I’ve been deeply traumatized by what the Normans did to us in 1066. How about some for me too?”

Said another: “Blacks are already getting reparations. What do you call federal school lunch programs and Section 8 vouchers?”

Another writer wondered whether the descendants of African slave-sellers should pay a larger proportion of the reparations. And what about the descendants of the white Union soldiers who died fighting against slavery in the Civil War—shouldn’t they be excused from paying reparations?

“We should forget about reparations and concentrate instead on getting young blacks to compete successfully in the job market,” declared another.


This article is available to subscribers only. Please subscribe for full access—subscriptions begin at $2.95. Already have an online account? Log in now. Already a print subscriber? Create an online account for no additional cost.

This article is available to subscribers only.