Monday, October 02, 2006

Neil Steingberg shows his ignorance in reparations column

First the set-up. Chicago Sun-Times columnist, Neil Steinberg, started a firestorm when he claims that reparations for descendents of slaves is unnecessary because African Americans are better off in the United States than they are in Africa. There are a ton of reasons to be for or against reparations, but Steinberg bases his opposition on a really faulty and ignorant argument:

Reparations can't fix problems of the past

September 29, 2006
BY NEIL STEINBERG Sun-Times Columnist
In many ways, black people -- as a group -- get a raw deal in this country, compared with other Americans. Their salaries are lower. They go to prison more. Their health care is worse, and their lives are shorter.

But if you compare them with Africans living in Africa, all that changes. Their lives are far, far better, by every measure.

My guess is that the average African, scraping out a living in Uganda, would leap at the chance to change places with the most humble resident of the West Side of Chicago.

Thus the slavery reparations struggle is a mystery to me. While slaves certainly suffered, terribly, their descendants benefit, tremendously, by being here and not being back in Africa. Why focus on the harm of the past and not the benefit?

Click here for entire column.

Then Steinberg's Sun-Times colleague, Mary Mitchell responds:

Slavery was the black Holocaust, so treat it with the same respect

October 1, 2006
BY MARY MITCHELL Sun-Times Columnist
Are Jewish people better off today because their forefathers endured the Holocaust? I would think most people would be offended by any argument that suggests that the extermination of millions of Jews by Nazi Germany was a necessary evil. I'm raising this issue because I can't ignore the assumptions on the part of some white people that blacks in America ought to forget about reparations because they are better off today than their African cousins.

The implication, of course, is that slavery actually saved black Americans from the wars, disease, famine and pestilence that have plagued African countries.

Unfortunately, this is not a novel view, nor is it one that has only been expressed by white people.

I wouldn't address such lunacy except that it was given voice in a newspaper where I have worked for 15 years. That angers me. And it raises a question about the liberties everyone feels they can take when it comes to black people.

Click here for the entire column.

Steinberg continues his ignorant offensive today:

Katrina shows why reparations won't happen

October 2, 2006
BY NEIL STEINBERG Sun-Times Columnist

Cherishing Israel doesn't mean that I don't wish I had more living relatives, or that Jews are glad the Holocaust occurred. But it is human nature to seek out the good in the bad -- for the parents of the slain toddler to start a foundation in her honor. And if they end up on the ''Today'' show, staying in a fancy hotel in New York City, chatting with Matt Lauer, it doesn't mean they are happy their child died, although unkind souls will claim just that.

So one can definitely point to -- for instance -- slavery and say it also resulted in some good, the most obvious being the inclusion of blacks into the American story, contributing to, enhancing and enriching the nation in countless ways, from peanut butter and jazz to Justice Thurgood Marshall and Barack Obama, the next president of the United States.

If this offends certain people, who would prefer to live in a house of mirrors, their own views reflected endlessly back to them, while treating any outside observation as "disrespect," then I am genuinely sorry -- sorry for them, in the sense of pity, not penance.

I would not want to live in that world.

Click here for entire column.

No comments: