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8225: AIDS, Haitians and Reparations (fwd)

From: Pierre Jean <pierrejean01@yahoo.com>

I have been reading with interest the debate on
reparations to Haitians for the AIDS scare and stigma.

First, setting aside for a moment the logistics of
such reparations, I disagree with those who argue FOR
compensating Haitians monetarily for the humiliation
and suffering they went through. My main problem with
the US, the CDC, or whoever was responsible, dishing
out gazilions of dollars to atone for their "sins" is
that, by focusing on reparations and hoping for huge
amounts,  we are debasing the very painful experience
that many of us went through as the result of the AIDS

If we are sincere about fighting for an apology
because of the stigma wrongly attached to Haitians,
then we should agree to settle for a "symbolic dollar"
in reparation ... something like the "franc
symbolique" that is awarded in the French judicial
system for libel suits. Otherwise, we will just be
another group of greedy victims trying to take
advantage of the US's out-of-control tort system
(apologies to lawyers.)

Second, assuming for a moment that a class action
lawsuit is filed, and that the plaintiffs win, say,
$50,000/head, what will we have gained? A little bit
more spending money, maybe a downpayment on a house,
some money for the kids' education, all short term
gains which will probably help. However, in the long
run, it is as if we will have sold our souls, our
suffering, our humiliation to the almighty dollar.

It is interesting to note the mention of reparation
for  African-Americans and the passionate debates
around this issue, both within and outside of the
Af-Am community. What worries me is that the focus on
who would be eligible, how to calculate the damages,
etc. is taking away from the main issue which is the
concept that one day, the US government would
apologize for the treatment of black citizens
throughout most of the country's history. How many
people still focus on that?

If we are truly serious about restoring our
reputation, we should forget the money and concentrate
on the principle of the matter. In this day and age,
most people will think that I am insane, but I believe
that it is the only way for us to gain a little bit
more respect (and self-respect.)

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