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Forum, June 11: Native Americans deserve reparations


Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Census argument was made in bad faith

Regarding syndicated columnist Dana Milbank’s recent piece, “The administration lies in the service of racism” (June 1), and other current news items: After arguments have been heard before the Supreme Court, and as its decision in the matter is imminent, information has surfaced about the intent behind the “citizenship question” proposed for the 2020 census.

The Trump administration argued before the court that this question was necessary “to enforce the Voting Rights Act.” But as this document makes clear, that argument was made in bad faith.

The actual intent was to discourage minority participation in the census, which would have the effect of suppressing their actual population in the nation. Thus, a greater proportion would be “white,” and that would be reflected in the representation in newly drawn congressional districts, as well as the apportionment of monies for federal programs.

Once again, the Republican Party’s agents are using the means of democracy to achieve an undemocratic result. Once again, they demonstrate the party’s truly formidable hypocrisy. Lest we forget: The current membership of the court has also been subjected to Republican manipulation of previously accepted appointment process norms (Merrick Garland, anyone?).

The primary end that manipulation was intended to achieve was the overthrow of Roe v. Wade. The matter of the manipulation of the census is even more fraught for the future of our American democracy. In its interpretation of administrative procedure and “the law,” will the Supreme Court uphold such norms, or will it lend its support to the development of a white nationalist state?

BORIS G. VON YORK

Springfield, Vt.

Native Americans deserve reparations

I have been listening to a great deal of discussion concerning reparations for African Americans. I have no argument with that. In fact, I believe that discussion is long overdue, as is finding a remedy. What we as Americans have lost focus of is the debt we owe, both financially and morally, to those whose country we took.

What our forefathers did to overcome, kill, displace and debase our brothers and sisters, our Native American forebears, is a stain on our history. That shame and stain preceded the shame we must acknowledge for our African American family, which is shared by the shame we should feel for what we did to our Chinese brethren, followed years later by the internment camps where we sent Japanese Americans during World War II.

There are those among us who have bought into terrible lies about our Native American citizens. What we should recognize is that they were herded up, led to lands where they could not live the lives they knew and where we systematically killed their way of life and their souls.

So when the topic of reparations is brought up, I bristle at the lack of mention of Native Americans, who signed our treaties, trusted our word and who still live in desperate poverty and neglect on every level. We Americans made promises and signed agreements and have thus far proven that we are not honorable, moral or caring of those we debased.

Reparations must be considered for Native Americans, our fellow Americans. We must face the fact that our privileged lives were built on the backs of people we betrayed.

KAREN R. BLUM

Grantham