Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Slavery Reparations Reference Question

One of the things I like about working in a law school library that is open to the public is working with public patrons who either are trying to deal with their own legal problems or who are just curious about the law for some other reason. Loyola New Orleans isn’t quite as readily accessible as some other urban law schools (like whichever Georgia law school is in Atlanta - their law library is apparently just across the street from the jail and/or police headquarters - I forget which).

Here is a reference question that was left on my voicemail this past summer; I’ve bleeped the name and phone number of the guy who called (and it’s a private, non-searchable Google “video”):

His question was a variation of the slavery reparations urban legend/scam.

I did call him back, explained to him while this reparations have been debated, nothing has been passed into law. I told him if he was interested in researching the different proposals and plans for slavery reparations, we could help him if he wanted to come into the library. But, as far as I know, he never came by. So I don’t know if he was motivated just by the possibility of getting his share of reparations, or if he was interested in the issue in general. I could have at least pointed him at these two opposing viewpoints on the issue:

National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America

This looks like an umbrella group advocating for reparations. The dates on their “News” and other parts of their web site are about three years old, so either they’re not that active any more or they need to fire their webmaster.

The National Leadership Network of Black Conservatives’ “Slavery Reparations Information Center”

I haven’t heard of this group - guess they don’t get a lot coverage on CNN or in the New York Times. Several good articles here arguing against reparations. One notes the intellectual disconnect between warning that tax cuts threaten social services programs and advocating a trillion-dollar-plus government package of reparations.

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