Broken Windows

By | May 29, 2014

When we have a broken window in our home, the first thing we do as responsible home-owners is to fix it. Later we might line up our kids to ask “Who did this?” Maybe we assign blame or figure out a way for the culprits to pay back what they cannot afford. But first, we fix the broken window, because leaving it broken leads to far greater damages.

It’s like that with the controversial topic of reparations. It’s come up recently due to the fine work of historians and writers. Perhaps you’ve heard this discussion.

Reparations is a word that incites near-immediate response, usually along the lines of “I had nothing to do with it!” But that’s not what we need to talk about. We don’t need to figure out whether you, or I, or anyone you know, is directly responsible for what happened. The window is broken. Let’s look at it, and get it fixed.

There is a bill waiting in Congress for enough signatories to advance to the floor. It’s a bill about reparations. HR40. The bill does only this: it asks for a true and frank discussion of what has happened in the past to our fellow American citizens, and what is happening right now as well.

We’ve survived as a nation after examining our past and then making amends. We’ve done this four times already: for interning our fellow citizens of Japanese descent during World War II, for forcing the sterilization of “unfit” people, for the Tuskegee experiments of leaving men with syphilis untreated, for decades, so we could study their harm as they slowly died, and for a riot in Rosewood, Florida that destroyed a town. In each of these cases, American citizens were harmed by the actions of the federal or state governments, and in each of these cases we simply looked at what happened and acknowledged the harm, and then we figured out what we could do to make amends.

And all HR40 does is this—it asks that we study the issue.

I urge you to contact your congressional representative today to ask him or her to support releasing this bill for a vote. All it’s asking for is an open discussion. All it’s asking for is that we fix the window. All we’re asking for, really, is that we admit that the window is broken.

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