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Jewish World Review March 22, 2001/ 27 Adar, 5761

Larry Elder

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Consumer Reports

Reparations and campus political correctness -- REPARATIONS for slavery? To JWR columnist David Horowitz, the president of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, the movement represents the Super Bowl of all shakedowns. He took action.

Horowitz sent a copy of an ad, "Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Slavery is a Bad Idea -- and Racist Too," to 35 college newspapers around the country. Most refused to print the ad, even though Horowitz accompanied a check with each submission. But a handful of student publications did print the ad.

The fit hit the shan. At the University of California at Berkeley, students stormed the offices of the school newspaper, the Daily Californian. Some were crying, some were tearing up copies of the paper. The next day, the newspaper, in full retreat, ran an editorial apologizing for the "offensive" ad: "The full-page ad ... was not condoned by the Senior Editorial Board, but we realize that the ad allowed the 'Daily Cal' to become an inadvertent vehicle for bigotry. The board regrets that the ad was published, and that the standard approval or rejection process was not carried through."

But black senior Jacquelyn Lindsey insisted that the apology did not go far enough: "I was extremely upset and disappointed that the so-called apology seemed more like a list of excuses and procedures that should have been followed instead of an apology."

The University of California at Davis's campus newspaper, the California Aggie, also carried the ad. A shocked black sophomore, Charmayne Young, said, "The advertisement was intended to inflame a certain group of people. This just re-emphasizes an opinion that I and the other students don't belong here."

In a next-day editorial, the paper apologized, blaming a procedural breakdown. "It came as a total surprise to me when I opened up the paper," said Editor in Chief Eleeza V. Agopian. "That ad completely violated our ad policy. Had we seen this ad beforehand, we never would have published it ... It's really unfortunate that it happened on the last day of Black History Month. This hinders any sort of effort to create an open environment, and we're working very hard to build back the trust that we lost today."

Is the Horowitz ad racist? He sets forth 10 reasons for opposing reparations:

There is no single group clearly responsible for the crime of slavery.

There is no one group that benefited exclusively from its fruits.

Only a tiny minority of white Americans ever owned slaves, and others gave their lives to free them.

America today is a multi-ethnic nation, and most Americans have no connection (direct or indirect) to slavery.

The historical precedents used to justify the reparations claim do not apply, and the claim itself is based on race not injury.

The reparations argument is based on the unfounded claim that all African-American descendants of slaves suffer from the economic consequences of slavery and discrimination.

The reparations claim is one more attempt to turn African-Americans into victims. It sends a damaging message to the African-American community.

Reparations to African-Americans have already been paid.

What about the debt blacks owe to America?

The reparations claim is a separatist idea that sets African-Americans against the nation that gave them freedom.

In its apology, U.C. Davis Aggie Editor Agopian said the ad "in no way reflects the feelings or climate of our staff."

I interviewed Ms. Agopian, questioning the necessity of her paper's apology.

Larry Elder: "How do you know how the rest of your staff feels? Have you polled them on how they feel?"

Editor: "I couldn't exactly give you a straight answer on the way that the staff feels because from what I've heard from numerous discussions with our entire staff is there's about 100 different opinions."

Larry: "Then how do you say 'It in no way reflects the feelings or climate of my staff'?"

Ed.: "Because that one statement does not reflect the exact sentiment of over 100 people who work for a newspaper. How could it? I ask you, how could it? How could those statements reflect one staff?"

Larry: "I thought you just told me your staff had divergent points of view?"

Ed.: "Yes, there are divergent points of view, so how can one point of view reflect 100 people?"

Larry: "In other words, the students reading your paper are so stupid as to think that if there's an advertisement, it reflects the views of you and your staff and, therefore, you have to let them know it doesn't?"

Ed.: "No, I didn't say that. I think that we wanted to reinforce to our campus community that advertisements don't represent the views of the Aggie, just as any other newspaper would enforce that in their own newspapers' advertising policy."

Whew. Glad we got that straightened out. Well, did Mr. Horowitz at least get a refund?

JWR contributor Larry Elder is the author of the newly released, The Ten Things You Can't Say in America. (Proceeds from sales help fund JWR) Let him know what you think of his column by clicking here.

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© 2001, Creators Syndicate