Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 18, 2000

Lee Dresselhaus / L’Observateur / April 18, 2000

So’..I’ve found it. After all these years I’ve found the way to be a victim, be politically correct, and even get to sue somebody over it, and all at the same time. Asa matter of fact, if I utilize the logic involved in this present line of thinking to its fullest potential, I can sue not one, not two, but several groups of people. I am, after all, a victim. And to prove it I’ve decided tostart at the beginning and sue everybody who has made me what I am today.

To start with, I think I’ll sue the Roman Empire.

Being of German descent I feel that a strong case can be made against the Romans for the way they treated my ancestors. A couple of millenniumsago the Romans swept across what is now Europe and conquered anybody who got in their way. By “conquered” I mean they killed, slaughtered andenslaved everyone who didn’t have enough of an army to keep them from doing so. I want to sue them for that because some of my ancestors weredoubtless the victims of that heartless plundering. Only I won’t call it alawsuit.

I’ll call it “reparations.”I want reparations for the nasty things that were done to my ancestors back when the human race wasn’t as enlightened as it is today. Today, ofcourse, we know it’s wrong to hit someone in the head, burn down his village, and take his family into slavery. In those days they didn’t knowthat stuff. It was the thing to do. If my army was bigger than your armyand you had something I wanted, I came and hit you in the head and took it.


There was no recourse, especially since your lawyer probably got sold into slavery along with everybody else. Fat lot of good he would do you at atime like that. And besides, people have been taking one another intoslavery in one form or another since the very first time some hairy guy figured out that if he took that there stick and hit you enough times with it you would eventually do what he said. It was The Nature Of Things. Idon’t even think anyone considered whether it was right or wrong until fairly recently. It just was.So now, looking back with the wisdom of political correctness gleaming in my eyes and with the glow of righteous enlightenment surrounding me, I want reparations from the Roman Empire. I’ll show them. They should giveme money. Of course, any of my ancestors who were victimized by thosemean old Romans have been in the ground for a real long time, along with the victimizers.

Time is, after all, the great equalizer of victim and victimizer, predator and prey, doctor, lawyer and Indian chief.

But that doesn’t matter. Neither does the fact that the government thatdid all that victimizing no longer exists. They should have known thatsome day they would get their commupance. It’s not my problem that theycouldn’t foresee a day of future enlightenment. They saw something theywanted and since they had the biggest army, hey, they took it. And, if theRomans no longer exist and I can’t sue them personally, Italy will do nicely, thank you. That’s what they get for being someone’s descendants.The Romans shouldn’t have been so short-sighted.

And now for my second lawsuit.

In August 1863, a distant ancestor of mine, one Herman Dresselhaus, a second-generation American of German descent who, no doubt, fled his homeland because of the racial trauma inflicted by the Romans, died in a reeking hospital tent from wounds received at some battle in Tennessee.

He had fought with Company F, 18th Illinois Infantry, a damn Yankee. Andsomebody from the Confederate States of America killed him just for that.

And now I want reparations.

There is one small problem associated with that, though. That governmentalso no longer exists. I have to blame somebody for my victimization,don’t I? And don’t give me any of that hey-it-was-a-long-time-ago-so- get-over-it nonsense. I want an apology and I want justice. Barring any ofthat, cash will do.

Come to think of it, though, there is another small problem with that, one not of logistics, but of logic.

Herman Dresselhaus and hundreds of thousands like him died fighting a war that they thought was meant to free slaves. And now I understandsome people want reparations from this country, the same one that fought that war to free those people. They want reparations because there wereslaves here in the first place. See what I mean? It’s a question of logic. Itmakes me wonder just who I should get my reparations from. If they getmoney because their ancestors were mistreated, shouldn’t I get money because mine died trying to stop it? It makes me wonder just when a debt ends, even when it’s been paid in blood.

Ain’t that something?

Lee Dresselhaus is a regular columnist for L’Observateur

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