Sen. Barack Obama told a meeting in Chicago the U.S. should review how it can make amends for “offenses” committed during its history.
And one author is speculating that might even include reparations for al-Qaida soldiers, since, after all, they’ve been held in violation of their “rights.”
Obama’s comments came in a meeting with members of UNITY ’08, an event for journalists who claim membership in various minorities.
Obama, according to the report in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, stopped just short of endorsing an official U.S. apology to various groups. He said instead the nation should acknowledge treating certain groups poorly.
“There’s no doubt that when it comes to our treatment of Native Americans as well as other persons of color in this country, we’ve got some very sad and difficult things to account for,” Obama told the convention.
He has told Hawaii reporters he supports a federal plan to recognize native Hawaiians. He was asked for his thoughts about a formal U.S. apology to American Indians.
“I personally would want to see our tragic history, or the tragic elements of our history, acknowledged,” he told conventioneers.
“I consistently believe that when it comes to whether it’s Native Americans or African-American issues or reparations, the most important thing for the U.S. government to do is not just offer words, but offer deeds,” he said.
The issue of reparations to African-Americans for the historic slave trade or Native Americans for the “invasion” by Europeans periodically has been raised. Several years ago a lawsuit was filed claiming damages for labor at a current value of $1.4 trillion.
At Renew America, Michael Gaynor also publicly wondered about Obama’s statements to a recent “Meet the Press.”
Obama said, “The biggest problem that we have in terms of race relations, I think, is dealing with the legacy of past discrimination which has resulted in extreme disparities in terms of poverty, in terms of wealth and in terms of income. Our inner cities are a legacy of what happened in the past. And the question is less assigning blame or rooting out active racism, because that’s not the reason that those inner cities are in such bad shape, but rather figuring out are we willing to make the investments to deal with that past history so we can move forward to a brighter future? And that involves investing in early childhood education, fixing the schools in those communities, being willing to work in terms of job retraining. And those are serious investments.”
Asked Gaynor, “Is ‘serious investments’ code for ‘reparations’? And how expensive and devastating would Obama’s income redistribution policy be?”
The comments were being discussed just as the U.S. House of Representatives issued an apology to black Americans for the “fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow” segregation.”
The resolution sponsored by Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., a white Jew who earlier this year tried unsuccessfully to join the Congressional Black Caucus, was passed on a voice vote.
In February, the Senate apologized to Native Americans, and in 2005 it apologized for standing by during the lynching of blacks last century.
But at the American Spectator, Jeffrey Lord, CEO of QubeTV and former Reagan White House political director, said the logical extension of such thought obviously could include reparations for al-Qaida.
“Does Barack Obama believe it’s time for America to apologize to al-Qaida?” he asked. “You think I’m joking, right? Wrong.”
“The push has begun among Obama’s fellow-liberals for reparations to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida warriors. Look no further than the Los Angeles Times review of the new book by liberal journalist Jane Mayer, ‘The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals.’ Mayer’s indictment of the Bush administration’s fight against terrorism has predictably received glowing reviews from the gatekeepers of liberalism, including a July 15th review from Times staff writer Tim Rutten.
“In wonderfully liberal style that is beyond parody, Rutten uses a book review to endorse the idea of paying money to Osama’s fighters who, in the eyes of liberals, have been denied their ‘right’ of habeas corpus at Guantanamo. The denial of habeas to non-Americans captured on foreign battlefields is, of course, also a major campaign point for Senator Obama. Obama, restating his long-held position about captured al-Qaida fighters having the right of habeas corpus, was prompted by the recent 5-4 Supreme Court decision in Boumediene v. Bush.
“The liberals on the Court, with the mind-boggling addition of Reagan appointee Anthony Kennedy, held that contrary to Bush administration and congressional policy, not to mention all of American history, the prisoners of war or ‘detainees’ picked up off the battlefields (in this case Afghanistan and Iraq) are in fact entitled to the same constitutional rights as American citizens.”
Obama’s allies now are “lobbying not simply for habeas corpus rights for al-Qaida but reparations as well,” Lord wrote.
“In other words, if you have been captured on the field of battle fighting the U.S. military on behalf of the global jihad and, as a result, are now on an extended stay at Gitmo, liberals feel the appropriate policy of the United States government is to 1) apologize for capturing you and 2) pay you some cold American cash to ease your pain and humiliation.”
Lord cited the Nuremberg trials for war criminals from Nazi Germany. “We still gave them a day in court and that taught the entire world about who we are but also the basic principles of rule of law,” he quoted Obama saying.
But he said that’s wrong. “If America’s only problem was with a sum total of about 1,800 German soldiers, why all that disturbing fuss known as World War II.”
In reality, half a million prisoners of war were “stashed in 511 internment camps sprinkled all around the good old USA from North Carolina to Iowa to California,” he wrote. “Not a single one of these men were given their habeas corpus rights. They were not tried. Not one. They were held as prisoners, forced to do whatever labor their American captors thought suitable until America had won the war.”
He continued: “Will Obama … have the courage to follow [the] arguments to their logical conclusions? If the idea is to have American taxpayers fork over damages to Osama’s men, why not Hitler’s? Where are the trial lawyers who have been flocking to Guantanamo? The size of the damage pot in a suit against the U.S. government for the treatment of Nazis would, one suspects, be considerable.”
“What is the difference between, say, German detainees Hans, “R,” and Jerry and an al-Qaida Gitmo resident named Abdullah Salih al Ajmi? The first three remained lawyerless while they waited out World War II in Iowa and Minnesota. The last, Abdullah, went through Gitmo’s thoroughly lawyered process and was released. On March 23, 2008, he showed up in Mosul, Iraq, when he drove a truck packed with 5,000 to 10,000 pounds of explosives into an Iraqi Army base. He killed 13 Iraqi soldiers and wounded 42 on his last mission, a mission that would never have occurred were he still in Gitmo.”
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