Fri | Sep 21, 2018

Letter of the Day | Reparation lobby entrenches victimhood

Published:Saturday | February 24, 2018 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

No logical person would argue that governments in Europe were correct in enabling the enslavement of blacks. However, the horrors of slavery cannot be used to justify reparation for individuals of African descent residing in the Caribbean.

Proponents of reparation like to posit that the Jews received compensation for the atrocities of the Holocaust, therefore blacks are equally deserving of similar payments. But such an argument does not take into account the fact that the Holocaust was carried out by the State.

Since the Holocaust was a direct state-sponsored activity, victims of this atrocity were right to target the government of Germany for reparation. Furthermore, in the process of exterminating the Jews, their assets, such as property and artworks were confiscated. Hence, it was sensible to compensate the Jewish people because they had suffered great economic harm as a result of a modern state-sponsored atrocity.

Unluckily for activists' arguments in favour of providing reparation to the descendants of slaves living in the British Caribbean are quite laughable. It must be noted that slavery is ancient and not unique to black people. For example, historian Robert Davis and others have written extensively on the enslavement of white Europeans by Northern Africans.

But, despite the commonality of slavery as a part of the human experience, advocates of reparation argue that Caribbean citizens are entitled to reparation, because slavery has retarded the region's economic development.

It is a reality that because of slavery, whites were given an advantage over blacks, since they had access to education and more resources. Yet, one cannot claim that had it not been for slavery, the region would be wealthier. In the 1960s, some countries in the Caribbean were richer than South Korea and Singapore.

Today, both Asian countries, according to the International Monetary Fund (2017), have GDP per-capita incomes of US$39,387 and US$90,531, respectively.

In order to bolster the argument for reparation, some are referring to a 2010 study in The West Indian Medical Journal, that links the high levels of diabetes and hypertension to slavery. The treatment of both non-communicable diseases has a significant impact on the region's budget and GDP. However, these diseases can be prevented, and if managed properly, their economic impact on productivity will be reduced.

Ashkenhazi Jews are carriers of various genetic diseases, yet as a group, they are extremely productively and wealthy. Unfortunately, the effects of slavery ought not to be used to justify the failures of the region.

Advocates of reparation also never indicate how the lingering effects of slavery have stopped any individual from being successful. People living in the Caribbean today were never enslaved and their governments constantly benefit from aid. Therefore, lobbyists for reparations should tell us why England must provide able-bodied citizens who were not slaves with any money. Other than the outlandish demands for reparations, it is also impractical.

According to the National Reparation Commission, Britain owes Jamaica 2.2 trillion pounds. Since Britain's GDP is more than 2 trillion pounds, the British government would become bankrupt by supporting the demands of local activists.

Local activists should be ashamed of themselves for perpetuating the culture of mendicancy that already permeates black dominated communities.

LIPTON MATTHEWS

lo_matthews@yahoo.com