'Reparations' column responses were interesting. Plus: Free speech issue. And, Oscars ratings tank

By Gary Abernathy

‘Reparations’ column responses interesting and varied

I received tons of emails in response to my latest Washington Post column where I expressed my support for reparations for the descendants of slaves.

As I’ve mentioned several times over the years, I don’t usually read the online comments section because people too often leave hateful comments under cover of fake identities. Why should people who write columns under their real names put any stock in responses from people using fake names? It’s a pet peeve I’ve had for years, even when the newspapers I worked for allowed the same thing (and still do).

But I do read emails, because people tend to use their real identities and are a little more thoughtful with emails, at least most of the time. And I try to respond when I have time, which often leads to some nice, ongoing dialogues even with people who stridently disagree with me. Fostering respectful conversations among people from opposite ends of the political spectrum would go a long way toward easing the tensions in a divided America.

Most of the emails I received on the reparations piece were from progressives who usually disagree with everything I write, but were happy to find something to agree on. Other responses represented opinions from across the board, and many disagreements. Here are some examples, including many arguments often made multiple times but condensed here into bullet points:

·         Instead of cash payments, provide a “free, quality education.”

·         A starting point might be to compensate descendants of World War II veterans who were denied housing loans under the G.I. Bill because they were black.

·         Blacks aren’t owed anything by white people because only “seven percent of white people actually owned slaves.”

·         Many African American people are descended from immigrants who came here long after the Civil War, and most white people are descended from immigrants who arrived after slavery ended.

·         What about personal responsibility, accountability and hard work? America has “equal opportunity, not equal results.”

·         White privilege does not suggest anyone should lose anything, but it’s “the absence of obstacles that other people more commonly experience.”

·         More “social welfare” spending labeled reparations will not fix the problem.

I heard from many conservatives saying that they, too, have begun rethinking the issue and are more supportive of at least considering reparations. I also, surprisingly to me, heard from a couple of liberals who are opposed to reparations.

And then there are always the emails like this one: “Piss off! That blunt enough for you?”

Nice. Anyway, many people also brought up the subject of Native Americans and what the U.S. owes them. Others mentioned how many white people died in the Civil War, giving their lives to free slaves.

It’s a polarizing topic, for sure. I stand by the column and my position that reparations would be the right thing to do. But I respect different points of view on the subject.

Interesting take on high court free speech case

George Will has a thought-provoking piece in the Washington Post about a free speech issue in front of the Supreme Court. Can a school punish a student for something she posted about the school on social media? Will writes, “Today, many schools, from kindergarten through college, are aggressive engines of intellectual homogeneity, sacrificing freedom of speech to imperatives of woke indoctrination. This cultural change, and the dynamics of social media, require from the court a defense of the First Amendment as robust as today’s assaults on it.” Read it here.

Academy Awards ratings crash and burn

Following up on my comments Monday about the Academy Awards, it turns out the show crashed and burned in the ratings department, losing nearly 60 percent of last year’s audience – which was already an all-time low.

Naturally, all sorts of excuses are being made about the pandemic, and every other reason under the sun, except the real reasons -- viewers are tired of tuning in to be lectured about politics, and see awards given for movies no one was interested in seeing.

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