March 31, 2004

Kunta Kinte Would Be Ashamed...

From Netscape News: Slave descendants sue British, U.S. firms

"NEW YORK, March 29 (Reuters) - Descendants of black American slaves accused the Lloyds of London insurance firm and two U.S. companies of genocide in a lawsuit on Monday that sought [two billion] dollars in [punitive] damages . . . The suit also seeks unspecified actual damages.

Filed on behalf of six adults and two minors, the suit alleges the companies intentionally sought to destroy the plaintiffs' "people, culture, religion and heritage."

The plaintiffs say their ancestors were transported from African nations as part of the slave trade from 1619 to 1865."

Later, the plaintiffs said in a statement: "Hey, I hear there was some kind of inquisition or something going on back then, too. Is there any way we can get a piece of that?"

Let me be clear, here: I do not in any way condone the slave trade or the horrendous treatment of the thousands (if not millions) of people who were abused at the hands of colonialism. I am also, in principle, not against making still-existing corporations who had a part in said atrocities pay large fines as a retribution.

However, it is my humble opinion that anybody who thinks that the best way to address the problem is by paying eight individuals $2 billion, is a selfish, money-hungry ass.

From The Australian News:

Antoinette Harrell-Miller, one of the plaintiffs, said the pain from slavery had not subsided.

"I'm talking about the personal injuries on myself," she said. "I never stopped wondering about my homeland."

Say, here's a novel idea: with all the money you're wasting on your swanky Manhattan lawyer, why don't you just f*cking buy a plane ticket and go satiate your curiosity?!

It's clear that the primary motivation behind this lawsuit is greed, not emotional pain-- confirmed by this (100% genuine) quote from one of the other plaintiffs, who responded to the question of what she hoped would come from the trial with the following:

"Reparations, reparations, reparations!"

From ABC Local Radio (Australia):

Deadria Farmer-Paellmann is one of the claimants. She explained the motives behind the law suit to CNN.

DEADRIA FARMER-PAELLMANN: African-Americans today do not know who we are. That is a human right to know who you are.

And, come on, people. What is the best way for the 35 million African-Americans in America to find out who they are? Obviously, it's for ten of them to be awarded $2 billion in an unprecedented legal battle.

You'll excuse me if I'm unsympathetic to these particular plaintiffs-- but considering they can afford to hire a high-profile celebrity lawyer to argue their case, it seems a bit rich that they're whining about how horrible their life is when, if their ancestors had stayed in Sierra Leone (where they claim ancestry), they would have just had to suffer through eleven years of civil war. If they really care that much about their heritage, why aren't they campaigning for more international aid to their ancestral countries (where poverty, AIDS and war are all huge problems), instead of greedily trying to snatch up $2 billion for themselves?



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