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Reparations—"It’s Never About Money" By: Michael Tremoglie
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, March 04, 2002

IT’S NEVER ABOUT MONEY," said lawyer Alexander Pires, of the Reparations Coordinating Committee, in a February 21 interview with Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly. According to Mr. Pires the issue of reparations is about telling the truth.

Mr. Pires response was rather nebulous and one typical of lawyers. What exactly he meant was not certain to me. Unfortunately O’Reilly did little to ascertain Pires’ meaning other than to say to him that the truth of slavery is known. Pires did refer to a USA Today article in which the Reparations Coordinating Committee listed companies and their links to slavery and the valuation of these links.

The article is absurd. Despite its absurdity, USA Today published it. This is illustrative of the superb media access groups such as the Reparations Coordinating Committee have. I often wonder why trial lawyers seem to be able to get their message told. I remember the old Phil Donahue Show. If it were not for trial lawyers Donahue would have had to cancel twenty-five percent of his shows. Whatever the reason, someone at USA Today is conspiring with the reparations ambulance chasers.

The truth is, Mr. Pires appearance on the O’Reilly Factor is part of a public relations campaign by the reparation ambulance chasers to promote their cause of earning millions and perhaps billions of dollars from a lawsuit they are filing against companies that were purportedly involved in or profited from slavery. Some of the companies listed and their linkage with slavery were comical. For example, the CSX railroad is linked to slavery because in 1850 the Richmond, Fredericksburg, & Potomac Railroad which is part of CSX today paid slave owners between $30 to $50 to rent slaves for one year. This is valued at about $3,000 in current dollars according to USA Today. The Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad that too is part of CSX today valued their slaves at about $128,000 or $1.4 million.

This is the business equivalent of going to jail for a crime committed by your great-great-great-grandfather’s second cousin on his wife’s side. How these people determined who owned what and how much it is worth is fascinating.

What is even more fascinating is Pires saying "it’s never about money."

One of Pires colleagues, Randall Robinson was quoted in the USA Today article as saying, "Once the record is fleshed out and made fully available to the American people, I think companies will feel some obligation" to settle, Robinson says. "Regret's not good enough. Aetna made money, derivatively at least, from the business of slavery. ... Aetna has to answer for that."

There it is folks. Money is exactly what the reparations movement is all about. Trial lawyers have been very successful in litigation against large companies. They have learned over the years that juries will award large amounts of money to plaintiffs for little or no reason. Trial lawyers realize that as long as the defendant is perceived as being wealthy-juries feel they are guilty because they are wealthy. Juries know that rich people or corporations are evil.

Of course, trial lawyers never seem to mention how wealthy they are. Pires, the Reparations lawyer, was the lead attorney in a lawsuit filed by black farmers against the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA). Pires and his colleagues collected about a million dollars in fees.

The lawsuit claimed the usual-racial discrimination. Some black farmers from California claimed they were being discriminated against for loans made by the USDA. Then Secretary of Agriculture Glickman convened an investigation that found discrimination was rampant in his department. The Clinton Administration promptly gave the farmers about $600 million in settlement though it never admitted guilt. The irony of this is that despite Glickman’s claim that discrimination was rampant, which would be criminal, no one in Agriculture was fired. Despite the criminal acts, no one was prosecuted.

Pires’ involvement was not without controversy. According to one newspaper account: "In November of 1998, lawyers representing the (farmers), led by Alexander J. Pires, began to work out a settlement with the USDA with little participation of the farmers themselves... Many farmers, including some of the original plaintiffs, have opted out in protest to the settlement... The original law firms, Conlon, Frantz, Phelan & Pires, and others, mislead the farmers into binding contracts that basically give them no options to consult other attorneys on their cases. The firms obviously did not have enough staff to adequately represent and consult of the 18,000 claimants and thus many of these claimants were stripped of their rights to a fair defense. "

Yet, it is never about money.

The mainstream media will dutifully propagandize the reparations movement on behalf of the lawyers, politicians, and academicians of the Reparations Coordinating Committee. There will be no exegesis by the media of any material the reparations movement publishes. The media will do this because they believe the Reparations Coordinating Committee is doing this for social justice.

Michael P. Tremoglie is the author of the new novel A Sense of Duty, and an ex-Philadelphia cop. E-mail him at elfegobaca@comcast.net.

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