Essay: Reparations For Black Americans

"Nobody's asking for reparations. I'm asking you to give us the crumbs from the table," said Craig Washington, one of five black Congressmen from the South, on the floor of the House. What crumbs? More and stronger affirmative action as mandated by the Civil Rights Act of 1990.

George Bush, an aristocrat who hates to deny crumbs to anyone, vetoed the bill anyway, on the ground that it encouraged racial quotas. But the bill was more than just bad legislation. It was a sign of intellectual bankruptcy in our thinking about race. As race relations worsen, as ethnic divisions harden, as...

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