Paying for the past

Wed, 8 Jun 1994 10:24:27 EDT

state should own up to their past crimes against other groups and compensate
the descendents of those against which the crime was committed. It has been
pointed out that many individuals were not descendents of the individuals who
had perpetuated the crime and therefore should not be responsible for paying
for the past. This has been countered with the statement that there is a
certain precedent for this and that the average taxpayer didn't seem to object.

I think this is a great idea but why stop with compensating descendents of
slaves. Let every nation stand up and compensate the descendents of those
individuals who have suffered at that nations hands.

Let's see: I'm an Applachian and my family lost a large amount of land in due
to a tax system that if you read your constitution is unconstitutional so the
U.S. should pay me for that. I'm also the descendent of coal miners who were
held in virtual slavery by the large coal companies and were supported in this
by the U.S. government, ever hear of Matewan, so I quess I have some money
coming from that. Let's see along the maternal side I had a female ancestor
who was a member of a now unknown Native American group, her tribe was des-
troyed before we ever got around to documenting who they were so it sounds to
me like I'm owed something from that. Let's see now I'm also the descendent of
Irish-Americans who were forced off their lands during the Potato Famine of
1854-9 which we all know the British could have stopped if they had wanted to,
so the British Government owes me for that, of course they also owe me for the
Planting of Ireland when we also lost are lands east of the Shannon. I also
can collect from the British government for the loss of lands that belonged to
my Scottish ancestors during the crofting. I can collect from them again for
the Norman conquest of Wales when another line of my family lost their lands
there. For that matter I should also be able to collect from the Norwegian,
Swedish, and Danish governments for their atrocities against the various people
of the British Isles between A.D. 700-1100. Should I keep going folks, I
haven't even got to my Dutch, German, and French heritage and I still have
ancestors who've had crimes committed against them that I haven't discussed.

Many of you may attack me saying these events are so distant in the past as
not to count but I would remind you that Matewan and the economic oppresion of
Applachia occured after the U.S. Civil War and that the Potato Famine in
Ireland was only a mere six years prior to it. Also, don't tell me that as a
white male I don't understand what it is to be discriminated against. I am,
and have always been and Appalachian from the "hollers", for those of you who
aren't familiar with that it means someone who is economically deprived, living
in a rural setting, with inadquate housing and sanitation, and eating what many
of you would consider to be a substandard diet. Have I been discriminated
against, well I would call the denial of educational oppurtunities (advanced
college bound courses) as discrimination. Hey see the big box office release
of the Beverly Hillbillies last year, that's what most of you probably think
of when you hear Appalachian, where I'm at now it's sacrilege to tell a joke
that makes fun of African-Americans, or women but Appalachian jokes depicting
us as backwards, intellectually inferior, and incestuous are excepted party

Folks I doubt that there are very few of us who can't show how at least some of
their ancestors have been abused by someone else. It's a common thing where
I'm from for people to say I'm the way I am because that's the position society
has placed me in and expects of me, it's not my fault. We aren't the me
society we're the not me society. I'm not saying that society is unfair, we
all know that it has been and is very unfair to a large number of people. I
personally refuse though to involve myself with pointing fingers for the past
saying that someone is owed something because of what happened to their great-
grandparents. All that person is owed is the assurance that the society will
remeber the wrong commited in the past so that it won't happen again. Granted
those acts in the past impact discrimination today, but we don't end that by
paying off for the past. We do that through education, rememberence and
acceptance. We can't achieve those by focusing solely on the past and laying
blame. But hey I'm just another white male who doesn't understand and should
really spend my time apologizing for my gender and skin tone instead.