[eDebate] Reparations

Andy Ellis andy.edebate
Fri Apr 25 20:12:02 CDT 2008

Tom's message takes care very effectively of the arguments i was gonna make,
so ill focus on a couple of other points that people have suggested
represent problems.

First let me say that reparations is a viable domestic alternative to
russia, and provides a good candidate for odekirks coalition topic, it hasnt
received much of the discussion, but its a good topic with a lot of

Here are some things it has going for it.

1) Unique Focus- We can debate about whether 5th year seniors are debating
something again, with ag, or if we get unique access to russia, but it would
be hard to say that any topic has has an extensive focus on reparative
justice for racial injustices in the past with continuing effect today. The
closest we can come on this is milliken and civil rights, but these arent
even close, Milliken is way to piecemeal, and was a case that didnt allow
solvency of its harms without being extratopical.Civil rights had a similar
issue. No one can legitimatly say that a topic they have debated before has
worked on a TOPIC (not an AFF) that asks for an answer to these questions.

2) Global Uniqueness-Check. Much better than ag. Much Better than russia.
There is not a whole lot of likelihood that major acts of reparative justice
will occur between now and say the end of the topic. This doesnt mean people
dont write about it but it does mean as tom eludes to that different people
write about it in different places. The closest thing to a an aff uniqueness
debate is  reparations for japanese american internment. There is very
little likelyhood that this issue as it relates to the topic will be
signifigantly revisited during the upcoming year. There may also be more
apologies for slavery...but thats a good uniqueness debate-is there a
difference between apology and material forms of reparative justice.

3)More likely than any other topic to bring those that relate differently to
the topic than the mainstream to the topic. Simply put nothing about russia
biotech ag latin america labor any of these other topics is gonna bring the
people who dont have to or dont want to debate policy about the topic to the
topic. Only reparations has a good chance and thats because it has the
potential to frame a topic that makes us look at the framework of evaluation
we use in rounds. Now that being said, if reparations is debated in a way
that distracts away from the discussion at the core of the topic into
conventional patterns it is likely that any closer to the topic people might
come they will quickly turn back to the practices that exist on any topic.
But reparations has the best chance of engaging these folks, no other topic
even comes close. I guess from my perspective not being how others define
topical is ok, i dont mind the drift further and further away, but if you
do, this is the best chance any topic has to perhaps slow, reverse, or
better yet address this issue.

4) Bigger and more important to the last 40(0) years than russia.

5) Great literature based k ground. The Aff will use the federal government
to impose a policy of reparative justice along a single axis of historical
oppression in order to solve present day suffering. Nietzche? Quality Link.
Gender? Quality Link. Security? Quality Link. Coercion? Quality Link.
Identity Politics? Quality link. These are debates where the link will
directly interact with the aff literature, much less the two passing ships
model of many k debates currently, and the question of the use of the state
may be the ideal way to frame out a real debate on what has been a
relatively shallow debate at the core of k debating over the last several

Ultimately the success of this or any topic, is not in the wording, but in
how people debate it, and if people debate reparations in a way which avoids
the core of the good debates in the literature then it too will see a lot of
topic defection, several people have said to me..."the problem is people
wont debate about race, they will use bad strategy x." and inevitably to
some degree this is true. But preventing this problem with this topic or any
topic is not a question of the topic, its a question of whether you make a
good faith effort to learn what the topic has to teach. I will never explain
away the possibility that someone will run states and politics in every
debate, but none of the contenders can prevent that, and this topic better
than anyother has the possibility to add depth to a debate which is often
characterized as "how many times will people read the barndt card" well how
about the barndt book? and criticisms of it...and further more in-depth
research that backs up and disputes his argument?

There is enough literature and argument on reparations for people to have
good and sustainable debates, look at some of it, some is in the topic paper
but thats not the limit of it...look for more, spend a few days doing
reparations research, join the debate.
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