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Comments and Responses to Decolonizing Astronomy

Alex Sapchik writes:
I thought that from the natural science point of view, rectifying injustice done to past generations is simply impossible for thermodynamic reasons alone. You would basically be trying to force a complex, inherently unstable system back into its equilibrium. The cost would be prohibitive. Even now-disadvantaged groups of people would be WORSE off after that, not better. 
And historic experience confirms this. Every attempt to redistribute wealth or power in order to correct past injustice (e.g. communism, expropriation of white land in Africa) ended up in a disaster. On the other side, in the post-MLK USA and in Nelson Mandela's South Africa a point was made NOT to introduce reverse discrimination - and these countries are doing relatively well. 
And why are you only blaming whites for the plight of African-Americans? Slaves were captured by other BLACK people in Africa, then sold abroad to whites. The African nation of Gabon once prospered on slave trade, and is still one of the richest countries on the continent. 
Maybe it's the other way round - the willingness of BLACK people to enslave their countrymen and sell for a profit resulted in the shameful period of slavery in the USA? After all, Chinese and Irish didn't sell their fellow citizens as slaves - and so there were no slaves of that origin. 
In slave trade, the seller is as deplorable as the buyer. And the sellers were black. 

Wow, where to start? I think I'll start by pointing out how Alex reaches for scientific explanations for the injustices of this country, as if to say, "It was inevitable. This is the way the world works." I'm going to set aside the problems of applying thermodynamic arguments to human behavior since it doesn't really warrant a response. Instead, I argue that Alex is defending the status quo by pointing out the cost is prohibitive. 

Following this argument to it's logical end is rather scary for anyone who does not benefit from the system that Alex defends. This is especially true if were to rewind the clock 50 years and make the same argument. "These civil rights activists need to understand that trying to force a complex, inherently unstable system back into its equilibrium. The cost of allowing Black people to vote, receive an equal education, and not be lynched would be prohibitive." Rewind the clock 150 years and Alex again pops up to tell the slaves, "The cost of freeing you would be prohibitive. Because thermodynamics."


Your arguments about "reverse discrimination" are as silly as they are sad. You are like a CFO who takes over a company and presents their financial situation while ignoring their debts and losses. "It wouldn't be fair to pay back our debtors," your argument to the CEO goes, "because that would take money away from our shareholders." 

Now, onto his argument that BLACK people are responsible for slavery. The people who sold my ancestors into slavery were Africans, from a broad range of countries and tribes. What they did was wrong, to be sure. But I do not live in their country. I am a descendant of Black slaves in this country. The people who hold power today in my country are the descendants of the people instituted a system of complete dehumanization, the deliberate destruction of families, the deaths of millions, and the torture and terrorizing of millions more. I am a Black American. I am subject to the systematic racism in this country

Finally, even a child can understand that someone else's wrongs do not make your sins forgiven. Go back and read your words out loud. Better yet, read your words to an auditorium in Baltimore filled with Black children. Listen to yourself, man! Your lack of basic empathy robs you of your humanity. What this system has done to you is ugly. My heart aches for you, and part of the reason I fight is to free people like you from the need to trade your humanity for privilege. 



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