Slavery was, and still is, a horrible crime against humanity everywhere, past and present. I agree that reparations are an unfulfilled post-Civil War promise that should be addressed. However, I believe we have an older debt: for the genocide of the Native American population of this continent, who once numbered an estimated 7 million to 10 million and number about 5.2 million today.

Hundreds of broken promises and treaties, massacres of men, women and children and the theft of millions of acres of land, plus outright war crimes such as biological warfare by gifting items such as blankets and food that were contaminated by lethal disease such as smallpox.

Reparations, fine, but let’s start from the beginning if the intention is truly to correct a moral crime against humanity and not just to garner votes. Our government, our citizen ancestors, once paid bounties for the body parts of dead Native American men, women and children. Setting this right is comparable to the Germans trying to square the actions of World War II with the Jewish people.

America has moral debts that need to be addressed. They have been generally pushed to the rear as far as possible generation after generation. If the potential candidates of 2020 want to discuss reparations, then let’s do it. Let’s start with the undeniable genocide of Native Americans. If politicians ignore it and pursue only the reparations that will garner African-American votes, then hypocrisy and moral debt will remain embedded in America’s core.

Let’s see if anyone has the courage to set things right, win or lose.

Paul Luise