Paying for Jefferson's Sins
AT A moment when national unity has assumed special importance, a novel demand by a group of black activists is raising the possibility that race relations in the U.S. are about to take an espe- cially divisive turn. What the nascent movement wants is, in brief, financial reparations, and not for any present-day wrong but for the historic crimes of slavery and segregation. Some advocates of repa- rations have put the squeeze on particular busi- nesses, like the insurance companies-many of them still in existence-that wrote policies for slaves in their masters’ names. Others have called for a vast program of spending on education and physical rehabilitation in poorer black neighbor- hoods. Still others have staged an assault on the U.S. Treasury, demanding a substantial lump-sum payment to each black American.
About the Author
Algis Valiunas writes on culture and politics for COMMENTARY and other magazines. His "Goethe’s Magnificent Self" appeared in January.