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The Other Reparations By: Lowell Ponte
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, October 09, 2002


WE WANT TO KNOW WHAT WAS YOUR ROLE IN SLAVERY,” said City of Chicago Alderman Dorothy Tillman. “What did you do? Was your company built off the backs of slaves?If they answer wrong, [companies] can no longer do business with the city.”

Her measure, which requires companies seeking city contracts to confess any profits they made from slavery more than 140 years ago, became law last week.It passed the City Council 44-0, with six Aldermen either absent or abstaining.

“It is curious that no witnesses appeared at [the] committee meeting to oppose the slavery disclosure ordinance,” opined Cate Plys in the Chicago Tribune. “Tillman didn’t invite representatives of companies that could be affected, and all the witnesses from academia were fully in favor.”

In this town of strongarm politics, Tillman made no effort to disguise her agenda. Any confessions extracted under financial extortion or torture, she boasted, would immediately be turned over to Grand Inquisitor teams of lawyers now preparing slavery reparation lawsuits against companies.Such trial lawyers can be counted on to kick back a fat cut of their pirate loot to the politicians who set up their prey.

The enterprises targeted by Tillman for such torture are many: “Textile, tobacco, rice, railroad, you name it,” she said, quickly adding “Banks. Of course, banks.” Always eager to grab other peoples’ money, Tillman goes where the biggest money is.And just how avaricious she is can be seen in Tillman’s declaration that “Affirmative action was five cents toward reparations.”

Her fellow Democratic Alderman and head of the City Council’s Finance Committee Ed Burke joined her in saying that companies “should be compelled to disclose those facts.”

“Burke gleefully observed on the Council floor that CSX Railroad, whose predecessor companies apparently used slave labor to build some of its rail lines, can forget about any zoning approvals for a prime piece of real estate at Harrison Street and the Chicago River until the company makes reparations,” wrote Plys.“Robert Bennett, professor and former dean at the Northwestern University Law School, noted that Burke’s assertion ‘smacks of extortion.’”

But slaveowners and companies were not the only ones to gain money and power from slavery.Plys notes that “Well known reparations foe David Horowitz sneered: I applaud the City Council. It should look into the dealings of the Democratic Party.”

Horowitz, writes Plys, has quoted the 1840 Democratic platform as saying that “all efforts by abolitionists or others, made to induce Congress to interfere with questions of slavery” will “lead to the most alarming and dangerous consequences” and “diminish the happiness of the people.”

“This is an institution going on since 1840 that’s totally identified with slavery,” Plys quotes David Horowitz as saying. “How about reparations from the Democratic Party? Ho, Ho, Ho!”

The largest profiteer from slavery, without doubt, is government itself. On the eve of the War Between the States, a.k.a. the Civil War, fully 80 percent of all tariffs, imposts, and other tax revenues collected by the Federal Government came from the five million whites and four million slaves in the South who, combined, were only one-third of the nation’s 27 million inhabitants.

This wildly unequal tax burden (not unlike today’s) was the single biggest issue motivating Southerners to secede from the Union.

Through such confiscatory taxation and other discriminatory laws (such as those requiring Southern importing and exporting to be done on U.S. flag ships, most of which were owned by politically-connected millionaires in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia), Yankee politicians conspired to grab for themselves a very large share of the wealth earned from the slave labor of African-Americans.

How shall we punish the “government profiteers” who fattened government to today’s giant size and continue to grow wealthy and powerful from bloated government — all of this rooted in what politicians stole from the sweat, tears and blood of slaves?

Because the Civil War effectively destroyed states’ rights and the separation of powers framed by America’s founders, no clear line today can be drawn to distinguish, e.g., the government in Washington, D.C., from that of the State of Illinois.Or from the City of Chicago, where Aldermen like Dorothy Tillman stuff their pockets with an annual salary of $85,000 and a mountain of other pricey benefits taken at gunpoint from a mix of federal, state and local taxpayers.

If Dorothy Tillman were sincere, she would relinquish 80 percent of her salary to a “politicians’ reparations fund” to be given to poor African-Americans — and she would demand that all politicians who engage in her brand of race-baiting politics do likewise.[She would, of course, not seek any salary increase to offset this reallocation — for that would unfairly shift the debt she owes onto the backs of today’s innocent taxpayers.]

If Dorothy Tillman were sincere, she would demand that government and its tax burden on citizens be reduced by 80 percent to undo the government overgrowth and oppression spawned out of what government stole from slaves. This would do much to emancipate today’s millions of tax slaves who see more than half the fruits of their labors — and hence more than half of their working lives — confiscated by greedy governments.

And if Dorothy Tillman were sincere, as David Horowitz deftly implied, she would not be a member of the political party of the slave owners, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow and Bull Connor. She and her comrades would instead be proud members of the party of the Great Emancipator Abraham Lincoln.

Until Ms. Tillman, the City of Chicago, and other reparations advocates require politicians and governments that have profited from slavery to pay huge reparations in their chosen coin of the realm — not only money but also power — nobody should take anything she says or does seriously.

Dorothy Tillman is herself a slavery profiteer, even more than are the government-money-seeking companies from which she seeks to extort reparations.

How much of her ill-gotten government power and tax revenue is Ms. Tillman prepared to give up in order to cleanse the stain of slavery from our local, state and federal governments that grew rich and fat on the backs of slaves?

Until she is prepared to lead by her own example in confessing and paying the reparations she owes, Dorothy Tillman will remain a self-aggrandizing hypocrite who is morally unfit be followed by anybody.


Mr. Ponte co-hosts a national radio talk show Monday through Friday 6-8 PM Eastern Time (3-5 PM Pacific Time) on the Genesis Communications Network. Internet Audio worldwide is at GCNlive .com. The show's live call-in number is 1-800-259-9231. A professional speaker, he is a former Roving Editor for Reader's Digest.


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