Slave Reparations: Coming Next?

It’s finally happening. The movement for slave reparations is here. More than 150 years after slavery ended, the descendants of its deceased perpetrators will — if it passes Congress — be forced to pay subsidies to the descendants of its deceased victims.

It’s proposed in the name of justice. You’re not allowed to question it without being called “racist.” Those who threaten to call you racist will provide no justification for their claims. Simply to question them makes you racist, if not a proponent of slavery.

Actually, slavery takes different forms. One form is government protecting the ability of some human beings to own other human beings as property. It’s a monstrous injustice, to be sure.

However, it’s the same principle at work when some people are forced to pay for the livelihood of others. If you don’t pay this livelihood, you’ll not only be called racist — you’ll be put in jail.

Perhaps giving up another 10 or 20 percent of your earnings in taxes is not the same level of monstrosity as being owned as legal human property by another. But it’s precisely the same principle.

Slavery reparations are no longer on the fringe of the American political landscape. The respected Atlantic Monthly recently [5/21/14] published an article by Ta-Nehisi Coates entitled, “The Case for Reparations.” Coates claims,

The lives of black Americans are better than they were half a century ago. The humiliation of Whites Only signs are gone. Rates of black poverty have decreased. Black teen-pregnancy rates are at record lows—and the gap between black and white teen-pregnancy rates has shrunk significantly. But such progress rests on a shaky foundation, and fault lines are everywhere. The income gap between black and white households is roughly the same today as it was in 1970.

Why should present-day white Americans, who had nothing to do with slavery in the 19th Century, be forced to pay higher taxes and sacrifice their own well-being because of injustice never personally committed by them?

This is the question never asked or pursued. Racial collectivists like Ta-Nehisi Coates assume that we are not only our present day brother’s keepers; we are the keepers of generations who were born and died long before us.

If you’re white, then you’re collectively guilty for the sins of other white people in the past. Interestingly, you’re responsible for the sins of white people who condoned slavery, while you’re in no way credited for the virtue of all those whites (in the American North, and elsewhere) who fought slavery with everything they had.

Why is guilt collective and so selective, Ta-Nehisi Coates? I happen to be white, so I’ll be labeled racist for asking the question. But what happens when a black person asks it? I know for certain that some black thinkers — Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams come to mind — will ask it. What does it make them?

It seems that a concern for justice would factor in all sides of the equation. Now, a money and power grab — that’s another story. I’d expect a money and power grab to be one-sided. Slave reparations surely could not be a money and power grab, could it?

I recognize that slave reparations is unlikely to pass Congress in the near-term. But we might be closer to it than you think. The hated Tea Party element of the otherwise worthless, spineless Republican Party is about all that stands between us and such a bill becoming law. After all, politicians have rammed Obamacare, higher taxes, unprecedented interference in the private sector, and other destructive policies through Congress all on the premise of “not being racist,” particularly since these policies are promoted by a (half) black President. Since this tactic worked so well with everything else, why not slave reparations as well?

Obama is reportedly against slave reparations, but not on principle. He prefers to accomplish the same goal more quietly, via more government spending and higher taxes, along with greater wealth redistribution. In a way, we already have the socialism implied by slave reparations. But for some, we have to make it more explicit. We have to support wealth redistribution as a matter of moral principle, not merely in practice.

If we bow our heads and accept all this collective and selective guilt, then how are we to pay for it? Easy, says Coates:

It is obviously not practical to collect $1.38 trillion [the cost of this proposal] from individual white households. But more broadly, the issue is not individual acts of wrongdoing but a collective American legacy. The appropriate payor is the United States government which, conveniently, has the ability to print United States dollars in unlimited quantities.

The Federal Reserve Act would not, as written, allow the Fed to print $1.38 trillion and transfer it to individual African-Americans. But a reparations initiative could direct them to do so.

So there’s your answer. We’ll just raise the debt limit and print more money. Excuse me, “print more money” is an old-fashioned term. The chairperson of the Federal Reserve will simply press a button on the computer and — like magic — there the money is. (Economists used to call this inflating the currency. Some still do, but in Washington DC they now call it quantitative easing. What could be wrong with that?)

Even if we accept the insanity of the economic and moral claims in support of slave reparations, what will it do to the people who receive the money? Will it foster independence, self-reliance, self-esteem and genuine economic advancement? Is that what handouts by the government typically do? Obviously not, even when those handouts are given in the name of need or suffering. What happens to people when they’re given handouts merely for the color of their skin?

And what do you think this will do to race relations in this country?

I can’t help but wonder: Is it love of black people motivating this proposal? Or racial hatred of whites? Or perhaps — worse still — hatred of freedom and justice, rationally defined?

Laugh at the prospect, if you like. But the false assumptions and neurotic guilt required to make slave reparations a reality have already been swallowed by a majority of the American electorate.

The specifics are only a matter of time.

  • Bluebirdblue

    This is a very good question. Canadian taxpayers pay billions of dollars a year to natives whose ancestors made agreements with people to whom most of us aren’t related. We pay and pay and still are blamed for every misfortune that befalls them. Industries are held hostage to their protests and demands for even more money. When the Chiefs and Band Councils steal most of that money, guess who’s to blame? Right. Us. I’m bloody SICK of it!

  • Darius

    Canada is a few steps down the Political Correctness road than we in America are. That does not surprise me.

  • morrel1

    I’ve commented on a different article on the same topic of a paradox about slavery in America. Specifically, the descendents of black slaves living in the United States today have a better quality of life than the descendents of Africans who were not subject to slavery and remained in Africa. It might sound perverse but black Americans are MORE fortunate, not less fortunate, for being descendents of slaves. I’m not justifying the institution of slavery by any means. I’m just pointing out the interesting consequences of history. For those black Americans who feel disenfranchised by their ancestor’s slavery perhaps they should ask what the consequences would have been had they remained in Africa.

  • writeby

    See Keith Richburg’s Out of America:A Black Man Confronts Africa in which he–a black bureau chief for the Washington Post–makes the same statement.

    I strongly recommend reading this book.

    “Nothing in Keith Richburg’s long and respected journalistic career at the Washington Post prepared him for what he would encounter as the paper’s correspondent in Africa. He found a continent where brutal murder had become routine, where dictators and warlords silenced dissent with machine guns and machetes, and where starvation had become depressingly common. With a great deal of personal anguish, Richburg faced a difficult question: If this is Africa, what does it mean to be an African American?

    “In this provocative and unvarnished account of his three years on the continent of his ancestors, Richburg takes us on a extraordinary journey that sweeps from Somalia to South Africa, showing how he confronted the divide between his African racial heritage and his American cultural identity.”

    Editorial Reviews:

    Amazon Review:

    “From 1991 to 1994, Keith Richburg was based in Nairobi as the Africa bureau chief for the Washington Post. He traveled throughout Africa, from Rwanda to Zaire, witnessing and reporting on wars, famines, mass murders, and the complexity and corruption of African politics. Unlike many black Americans who romanticize Africa, Richburg looks back on his time there and concludes that he is simply an American, not an African American. This is a powerful, hard-hitting book, filled with anguished soul-searching as Richburg makes his way toward that uncomfortable conclusion.” (Emphasis added)

    Wall Street Journal Review:

    “Striking in both its honesty and horror … A gripping memoir. Out of America is a passionate reminder to a multi-ethnic democracy that human dignity, not banal notions of cultural identity, is the source of enduring civic and personal esteem.”

    About the Author:

    “Keith B. Richburg is the New York bureau chief for the Washington Post. In 1993 he won the National Association of Black Journalists’ International Reporting Award, and the following year he won the George Polk Memorial Award for foreign reporting and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He lives in Washington, D.C.”

    This is an honest man.

  • PridebeforetheFall

    The black community has for decades voted enthusiastically for the democrat party, they have held up Jackson and Sharpton as ideological leaders. Can anyone say how the black community is better off today for this blind allegiance? How many times can you be taken to the prom but never get invited to meet the parents before you realize something is wrong?