Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Group Blasts Lehman Bros. for Slavery Apology


Peter Flaherty, president of the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), Tuesday denounced Lehman Brothers for apologizing for its alleged links to slavery, warning that such apologies, without legal or moral merit, will only embolden slave reparations activists to advance their unjust agenda.

The bank, responding to a Chicago ordinance that requires companies to disclose slave-related business dealings, issued the apology after discovering that the brothers who founded the firm's predecessor in 1850 owned slaves.

Joe Polizzotto, general counsel of Lehman Brothers, said, "This is a sad part of our heritage...We're deeply apologetic."

Flaherty called the company's decision an act of moral cowardice. "Lehman Brothers should have made the case against group guilt. Whatever ties the company or its officials may have had with slavery 150 years ago is irrelevant."

Flaherty added that, "Lehman Brothers should have stood up to the activists whose goal is to force companies and individuals to compensate the descendants of slaves. This is morally indefensible as it forces innocents to pay money to non-victims."

By apologizing, Flaherty said that Lehman Brothers gives the reparations movement a legitimacy it does not deserve. Lehman Brothers is the fourth bank this year to disclose ties to slavery.

Predictably, Lehman Brothers' act of contrition did not mollify reparations activists. Chicago Alderman Dorothy Tillman refused to accept the apology and demanded that the company be removed from a $1.5 billion bond issue.

Flaherty said the negative reaction shows that corporate appeasement does not work, and will only lead to greater demands.

"Reparations activists only care about money. They aren't interested in apologies," said Flaherty.

NLPC recently published a 35-page monograph titled, "The Case Against Slave Reparations," co-authored by Peter Flaherty and NLPC policy director John Carlisle.


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