When the primary elecion was held in Jefferson County a couple of weeks ago, Hillary Clinton defeated Barack Obama by about 65 percent to 35 percent in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. In Switzerland County, it was 75-25, Clinton. That pattern stayed the same all over southern Indiana.

But the Illinois senator remains far ahead of the one from New York in total delegates, and appears likely to win. If Obama defeats John McCain in the general election he’ll become our first African-American president.

And that brings up a matter the national news media have hardly touched on at all. Namely, reparations for slavery.

Think about it. The Democrats seem likely to make big gains in the congressional races. They’re already in control of both the House and Senate. And a number of important committees in the House are now headed by black congressmen, who tend to serve for long periods in their racially gerrymandered districts.

The notion that the United States owes huge reparations to American blacks as a compensation for having held their ancestors in slavery has been pushed aggressively by some prominent blacks for years. Does anyone think that, having seen one of their own elected president, they won’t push even harder — especially with a congress firmly in the hands of the Democrats, who have the allegiance of most blacks? Of course they will.

Now, I can see the emotional reasons for certain African-Americans seeking cash reparations. Most of them ARE descended from slaves, after all. They were chattel, bought and sold like cows and horses. None of us should be proud of that — nor should other countries where slavery once flourished, whether the slaves were black, or of some other race (members of every race have been held as slaves at some time and place or another).

But slavery ended in the U.S. 143 years ago. And it ended as a result of a savage Civil War that killed more than 600,000 American young men — most of them white — so African-Americans could become full citizens. Since then, the federal government and state governments, often pushed by concerned citizens, have continued to enact various voting, civil rights, affirmative action, and other laws to hasten the moment when they all are.

The U.S. is in a terrible financial crisis at this time, with a large national deficit, owing huge amounts of money to foreign countries such as China. If reparations COULD be justified, would this be the time to enact them? I think not. And here’s another thing: How would the money for reparations be raised? If it came out of general tax revenues, then blacks would be paying part of their own reparations. This is not to mention Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans and others, the overwhelming majority of whose ancestors never held blacks as slaves. Would that be fair?

And don’t forget the millions of white Americans whose ancestors came to the U.S. after slavery was abolished. Would they be exempt from paying reparations?

Yes, it would be a statistical and moral nightmare. The national media should be asking Obama about it at the earliest opportunity, because if he’s elected you can bet he’ll come under a lot of pressure to support reparations.

The way I see it, the U.S. government, whether headed by Obama or someone else, should firmly resist any talk of reparations. They would be a horrific Pandora’s Box.

And if you still want to be paid for a distant ancestor’s condition of servitude, 143 years after it all came to an end, then you don’t want “justice”; you want “revenge.”

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