Hamilton Journal News

Reparation­s will never buy justice, dignity or freedom

- Star Parker Star Parker is president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education.

The issue of reparation­s to Black Americans as payment for damage done as a result of years of legal slavery and subsequent discrimina­tion is back on the table.

The House Judiciary Committee just held hearings on H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to look into ways in which African Americans could be compensate­d, including possible payments of trillions of dollars to individual­s.

The commission would examine the role of government in supporting the institutio­n of slavery, “discrimina­tion in the public and private sectors against freed African slaves and their descendant­s” and “lingering negative effects of the institutio­n of slavery ... on living African Americans and on society.”

My ancestors were slaves. And my life as a young woman was a mess.

Was my life a mess because my ancestors were slaves? I don’t think so.

My life was a mess because I lived a wanton, irresponsi­ble existence, defined by promiscuit­y, petty crimes and scamming the nation’s well-meaning but totally confused welfare system to the greatest extent of my ability.

Did I need reparation­s to turn things around for me? Certainly not. I needed a wake-up call, which, to my great gratitude, I got, from a few church-going black Christians who told me the way I was living was unacceptab­le.

I went to church, took back responsibi­lity for my life and turned my circumstan­ces around.

The problem with the idea of reparation­s is it redirects attention away from exactly where it is needed: on individual­s’ personal responsibi­lity for their own unique lives.

And it redirects attention in such a way to encourage individual­s to believe that some abstract, collective entity from the past is the cause of all their individual problems in the present.

Compensati­on for damages is a basic legal principle.

It’s about personal responsibi­lity. Individual A sues individual B for damages caused. Exactly what the damages were and exactly how B injured A must be shown in a court of law.

Today, only a small fraction of our population has ancestors who were around before 1865 when slavery was legal. The idea of collective guilt, with no specific individual identified as causing the damage and no specific individual showing how he or she was damaged, doesn’t fly.

There is no word more frequently used in political discussion­s than “freedom.” But rarely discussed is what gives meaning to the word “freedom,” and that is understand­ing that individual­s have free choice — the power and responsibi­lity to choose how to live.

Only when we understand that there is good and evil, that there is sin, does free choice have meaning. It means individual­s have the power and responsibi­lity to choose how to live — that their individual choices matter.

So-called critical race theory says everything is about culture. Because, per their claim, the USA is about what they define as white culture, the cultural script needs to be rewritten to make things fair for those who are not white. Put politician­s in charge of making things fair.

No, I am sorry; I always thought the problem with racism is it denies the uniqueness, dignity and personal responsibi­lity of each individual.

If the ideal we seek is a free country with free citizens, then commission­s such as that proposed in H.R. 40, which pretend to be about justice but are really about a left-wing agenda to put government in charge of our lives, are not the way to go.

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