Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Case for Reparations

Black racial justice warriors such as Ta-Nehisi Coates want reparations.  Isn’t that rich, coming from Affirmative Action babies who have been politically moly-coddled their whole lives with special protections and generous handouts paid for by white tax dollars.

Now I’m inclined to reject any proposals to compensate groups of people for historical injustices.  I’m inclined to view the wars, invasions, persecutions, enslavements, genocides, and crimes of the past as lessons to be learned, not opportunities for monetization.

In the history of this country, large numbers of white people have been conscripted into armies, have been victims of war atrocities, and have been forced to labor as indentured servants – slaves by another name.  Meanwhile, some significant holders of slaves in places like Louisiana were black or mulatto.  Should the descendants of these slaveholders of color receive or pay reparations?  And as for those American blacks who believe they are the descendants of slaves rather than slaveholders, shouldn’t they be seeking reparations from the African tribes that originally enslaved their forefathers?

If you want to be concerned about slavery, then let’s focus on where slavery is actually still being practiced today.  For the most part, slavery doesn’t exist in white Western countries.  Slavery exists in places like Haiti, most of South Asia, and most of sub-Saharan Africa.  Why isn’t this the top priority of reparations advocates?  Why aren’t they demanding that these slave masters of color free their slaves and pay them reparations?

I’m open to the idea of reparations for injustices that were inflicted on people alive today by people alive today.  So if Ta-Nehisi Coates and the Huffington Post want to provoke a discussion on racial reparations in the United States, let’s have it.  Let’s consider the debt black Americans owe to white taxpayers who have been forced to pay for their welfare benefits and to white victims of systemic racial discrimination under Affirmative Action.  Let’s consider the value of white lives that have been lost due to the disproportionately high rate of black on white crime.  Let’s consider ways in which black people can begin to make amends for ruining the once great city of Detroit (not to mention Ferguson, Baltimore, Compton, and Watts).

Maybe reparations aren’t the answer.  But let’s at least recognize that black Americans living in the current year are the most politically privileged people the universe has ever known.