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The idea that taxpayers should pay reparations to African Americans for the damages of slavery and segregation has won the backing of important black politicians like Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich), distinguished black intellectuals like Henry Louis Gates and activists like Randall Robinson, who led the successful boycott movement against South Africa a decade ago. In this well researched and carefully argued book, David Horowitz examines the case for reparations and concludes that it is "morally questionable and racially incendiary." He notes that only a tiny minority of Americans ever owned slaves; and most Americans living today (white and otherwise) are descended from post-Civil War immigrants who have no lineal connection to slavery at all. More intriguingly, he also points out that the GNP of black America is so large that it makes the African American community the tenth most prosperous "nation" in the world. "Since American blacks on average enjoy per capita incomes of 20-50 times those of blacks living in the African nations from which their ancestors were seized," he writes, "should the descendants of slaves pay themselves for benefiting from the fruits of their ancestors' servitude?" But in addition to providing a casebook on the hot button issue of reparations, Uncivil Wars also reveals a crisis of free speech on our college campuses, where the reparations movement is centered. In the hope of initiating a dialogue, Horowitz tried to air his arguments in a series of advertisements in college newspapers last spring and found himself struck in a briar patch of censorship. Some of the editors who accepted the ad were forced to denounce themselves Chinese communist-style. Others simply rejected the ad altogether as politically incorrect. The controversy escalated, with commentators throughout the national media joining the ACLU in expressing dismay at the state of tolerance and free expression in the American university. Uncivil Wars shows what happens when the new racial orthodoxy collides with tolerance and free speech and what the implications of this conflict are for American education and culture.
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