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Reparations: No Statute of Limitations on Fairness

September 14, 2002

Re "Reparations: A Scam Cloaked in Racial Pain," Commentary, Sept. 9: Jonathan Turley's arguments spotlighting a con game pale when compared with those of an advocate and colleague like Randall Robinson, in his book "The Debt." Turley dredges up the statute of limitations, as if blacks have been dawdling for 400 years in their quest, not for repair of an injury, but for equal justice.

His decrying of the "racism" of Louis Farrakhan when the founders of this nation and their descendants were and are indeed racist does not even rise to the level of disingenuousness. Perhaps he thinks the poor academic showing of inner-city schools and the absence of minorities at the corporate ownership level are the consequence of inferior genes.

Legal precedent? What legal precedent sent money and supplies to Western Europe following World War II? And no one needs to "play the race card" in this country, since racism has been a constant since its inception. Racial animus seems to be identified only when strident calls for justice are heard. Our ethnic and gender caste system is not just injurious, it is unjust. And its abolishment requires another precedent-breaking decision such as Brown vs. Board of Education. Similarly, the current plaintiffs, or their successors, will prevail despite the meanderings of Turley, et al.

F. Daniel Gray

Los Angeles

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Turley has been the brightest voice of reason on your pages over the past few months. But on the reparations issue he was so focused on the law that he forgot about fairness. So what if there's no legal basis for reparations? Our attention should be on the fact that 35 million Americans, descended from the slaves in an ugly part of this nation's past, exist for the most part in a "freedom" that prevents them from competing on an even basis with those other Americans of color who have come here voluntarily, with their cultures intact. The reparations this country owes black Americans are not money in their pockets but better schools and safe circumstances in which to raise their children. They have been playing catch-up with the general population ever since emancipation.

Don Bustany

Los Angeles

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Re "Slave's Sons Seek to Heal Wounds with Reparations," Sept. 8: If the black culture has been allegedly crippled by the shadow of slavery, how can the successes of Venus and Serena Williams, Tiger Woods, Magic Johnson, Oprah Winfrey, Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Colin Powell, etc., be explained? An injustice that occurred more than 100 years ago is irrelevant to the woes of modern underachievers. Reparations are an insult to hard-working people who don't play the blame game.

Susan Campbell

Los Angeles

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A quick review of two concepts: Those on each side always ask for more than they think they'll get in a negotiation; an apology is an acknowledgment that a wrong has been committed. Anti-reparations advocates/slavery apologists are having trouble with both.

John R. Singleton

Los Angeles

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