My Ancestors Were Slaves, So Give Me Money

“Stupidity has a knack of getting its way.” – Albert Camus

It’s sometimes difficult to evaluate the validity of an argument. Once someone has laid out a argument to be analyzed, there are so many possible angles that it can become very difficult to come to a concrete conclusion as to its value. Recently, it has been talked about in the news that the Caribbean wants several European nations to pay reparations. These reparations would provide financial support to the country to offset the damage done by slavery. Now this is an argument I can support!

According to Yahoo News:

“The Caribbean effort is being led by Ralph Gonsalves, prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, who has doggedly pursued the issue for the last four years. When Gonsalves found out last year that London’s High Court ordered the British government to pay compensation to survivors of Kenya’s Mau Mau uprising, he contacted Day, whose law firm Leigh Day, represented the Mau Mau. The British government paid £19.9 million ($33 million) to 5,228 survivors of torture during Kenya’s 1950s Mau Mau uprising, and formally acknowledged that ‘Kenyans were subject to torture and other forms of ill treatment and that these abuses took place and that they marred Kenya’s progress towards independence.’ Gonsalves said slavery so traumatized society in Caribbean countries that they have still not fully recovered.”

To break things down more simply, the Prime Minister of St. Vincent saw that money was being paid to survivors of a tragedy, and realized that his country was owed a debt as well. Because of the ill effects that slavery had on his island, he believes that the countries responsible should pay financial restitution. He believes that because of the slavery his ancestors endured under several European countries, the Caribbean has lagged behind in terms of cultural, and technological development. Sounds good to me.

While we’re at it, what is the statute of limitations on this cash run? I mean, slavery was abolished over 150 years ago, and cash rewards are still an option? In 1625, James II of England issued a proclamation which had Irish political prisoners sold as slaves to the colonies in the west. That’s not all. According to Jeff Grabmeier:

“A new study suggests that a million or more European Christians were enslaved by Muslims in North Africa between 1530 and 1780 – a far greater number than had ever been estimated before.”

These instances of slavery–slavery of my Irish, and European Christian ancestors—were a mere 300-400 years ago. If we’re already counting our time in the hundreds, is 400 years too distant? The effect this slavery had on my ancestors has clearly debilitated the generations which followed. It is incalculable how much monetary damage has been wreaked because of what was done to my ancestors, let alone the emotional, and psychological traumas that have been passed down to future generations. Given that, I would like substantial payouts to be rewarded to all people of Irish decent. Additionally, I believe the Muslim countries of the Middle East owe us some money as well.

You are probably incensed that I would demand such reparations, given that the slavery of my ancestors took place hundreds of years ago. You may be angry because, despite the fact that all of the people who suffered terribly under slavery are long dead, I want a reward. But why is it that only the living can be awarded reparations? Just because the reparations given in Kenya were given to actual survivors doesn’t mean that people like me don’t deserve some money.

The Irish have endured enough. It’s time to pay us reparations because of what happened just a scant 400 years ago. While we’re at it, I’m part Native American, so…