Restitution & Reparations
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How should the American government take responsibility for past actions that have caused significant harm? On this episode of Now & Then, “Restitution & Reparations,” Heather Cox Richardson and Joanne Freeman discuss the tangled history of restitution, with a specific focus on how the federal government wronged certain classes of people. They talk through the early debates over slavery reparations, the late-19th century indemnity payments to Italian and Mexican victims of vigilante violence, and the long reckoning over the damage caused by Japanese internment during World War II. How does democracy benefit from governmental acknowledgment of wrong? How can we measure pain in morality or money? And how can these historical debates inform the current controversy over restitution for families separated from their children at the Southern border?  Join CAFE Insider to listen to “Backstage,” where Heather and Joanne chat each week about the anecdotes and ideas that formed the episode. Head to: For more historical analysis of current events, sign up for the free weekly CAFE Brief newsletter, featuring Time Machine, a weekly article that dives into an historical event inspired by each episode of Now & Then: For references & supplemental materials, head to: The executive producer is Tamara Sepper. The editorial producer is David Kurlander. The audio producer is Matthew Billy. The Now & Then theme music was composed by Nat Weiner. The Cafe team is Adam Waller, David Tatasciore, Sam Ozer-Staton, Noa Azulai, and Jake Kaplan. Now & Then is presented by CAFE and the Vox Media Podcast Network. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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