To watch "the memo" click here .

Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly.  Thanks for watching us tonight.

Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly.  Thanks for watching us tonight.

The first lawsuits are about to be filed over reparations for slavery.  That's the subject of this evening's "Talking Points" memo.

Tomorrow in New York City, a complaint against Aetna, CSX, and FleetBoston will demand that those companies pay monetary damages to African-Americans because they profited from the slave trade.

This is the first of what could be hundreds of lawsuits seeking reparations for slavery.  No dollar figures have been put in the suits thus far.

So let's examine the issue unemotionally.  There is no question that black Americans have suffered because of slavery.  That is undeniable.  For nearly two centuries, blacks were second-class citizens in the USA.  But since the 1960s, the government has spent trillions of dollars trying to even the playing field, and that has largely been accomplished.

Black married couples earn 80 percent of what white couples earn in this country, and the statistic is skewed because most blacks live in the South, where overall salaries are lower.  So the truth is, in stable black American homes, there is just about economic parity with whites.

Blacks make up 13 percent of the population in America, and they are better off than Native Americans, for example.  The poverty rate for them is 26 percent as opposed to 22 percent for blacks.  The alcoholism rate for Native Americans is an astounding 42 percent.  There is no question the most aggrieved and oppressed people in the history of this country were the original Americans.

The fact is that most ethnic groups who came to America were oppressed in their home countries.  My people lost their land in County Cavan, Ireland, when it was seized by Oliver Cromwell in the name of the British crown.  My people were also starved out of their homes and had to endure great suffering once they landed in America.

The point is that history is replete with atrocity and unfairness.  Should the families of all the Union soldiers who were killed in the Civil War get reparations?  Their heroic sacrifice freed the slaves.

And don't give me that baloney that they weren't fighting against slavery.  Just look at the recruiting posters for the military in the 19 -- in the 1860s.  Most of them are antislavery appeals.  The abolition movement was enormous in the North.

Those who want reparations for slavery are misguided, in my opinion.  Any settlement would come at the consumer's expense, and that means the black consumer would pay as well.  And any settlement would cause resentment and backlash against African-Americans.

I firmly believe that any American, if he or she works hard and lives an honest life can now succeed in our society.  This country gives everyone an opportunity.  You just have to be smart and brave enough to seize it.

Most Americans who have succeeded have paid their dues.  They should not have to pay reparations for the sins of the past.  If we start down that road, it will be an unending one.

And that's the memo.

The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

Time now for "Most Ridiculous Item of the Day."

I occasionally use this space to thank you for some kindness or other.  Over the past five years, The Factor audience has been extremely supportive of me and my appreciation is boundless.  The March 18 edition of Publishers Weekly magazine lists the most successful books of 2001, and "The No-Spin Zone" is second in general non-fiction sales, even though it was only out for two and a half months.  "John Adams" was first.  John Adams, who knew?  Anyway, this is a great honor, but not ridiculous, and I'm very thankful to all of you who made it possible. 

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