Every few years – when the one-sided dialogue on race bubbles to the surface – we hear yet again about reparations being paid by Uncle Sam to the descendants of slaves. It is such a bad and unwarranted idea that it is amazing that anyone would waste time discussing the issue.
The only reason it is raised is that Democrats see it as yet another opportunity to maintain the voting loyalty of the Black community by using taxpayer money as a sort of bribe.
Now do not get me wrong. If people are offered free (to them) money, the vast majority of folks would take it – need it or not. While – as a conservative –I worry about our annual Budget Deficit and the National Debt – I accepted the $1200 stimulus money the IRS deposited in my bank account even though I an not at all sure it was a smart thing for Uncle Sam to do. I really did not need the money, so I socked it away in my savings account.
I can understand the desire of a lot of Black people to like the idea – especially the segregated and impoverished people in our inner cities. If my one percent Nigerian DNA (yes, I had the test) would qualify me for such a gift from Uncle Sam, I would probably accept it, too.
The first problem I have with reparations is that they are to be given by people who had nothing to do with the evil institution of slavery – and that includes not only White Americans, but Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans and anyone else who pays taxes. And what about the few Whites, Asians and Native Americans who were also enslaved during the era of slavery. And speaking of Native Americans, what about reparations for the land the early settlers took? I guess they just do not count.
The vast majority of Americans living today do not have ancestors who were slave owners – and were not even in America during those days. My own ancestors came to America in the late 1800s – long after slavery ended. And they settled in the north, so they were not complicit in the Democrat era of segregation and Black oppression in the south. And even a lot of people with ancestors going back to the slave era were abolitionists – folks who fought and died to end slavery.
If we are to apply the legal principle of holding those folks accountable, perhaps compensation should be paid by the Democratic Party. They have the only clear record of institutionally defending slavery and governing over unconstitutional segregation and oppression of Black citizens for 100 years. If any parties might feel the pangs of historic guilt, they are found in the leadership of the Democratic Party.
On the other side of the coin-of-the-realm, who should receive reparations? Do we eliminate those whose ancestors found their way to America AFTER the end of slavery? Many of those known as “island Blacks” were enslaved in places like Cuba and Haiti – never setting foot in America. Should they seek reparations from Cuba or Haiti? By the time many of their ancestors immigrated to America, slavery had ended.
The point is simple. Are we expected to have people not responsible or involved in slavery pay reparations to a lot of people whose ancestors never suffered because of American slavery?
It is further arguable that no one in America today suffers from the institution of slavery. That ended more than 150 years ago. An argument could be made, however, that the century and a half of Black oppression and de facto racism in the south and big cities has denied Blacks access to America’s opportunity society. That is a reasonable argument – but again it is important to hold those most responsible for the oppression to be most accountable. That is not hard to determine, it is the Democrat leaders in the segregated south and the Democrat political machines in the major cities that confined Blacks to segregated and impoverished communities – and socially and physically blocked from equal opportunity and benefits of quality education and career-level jobs.
But even if you broaden the burden of responsibility for Black oppression over the entire American populace, there is also an argument that reparations have already been made – at least to some extent. Most significant were the Affirmative Action programs of the Republican Nixon administration that gave Blacks special advantages in obtaining college admission, jobs and economic business opportunities.
Even in the early 1900s – when the policies of the national Democratic Party under the leadership of racist presidents such as Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt were being influenced by powerful southern congressional chairmen and the big city bosses – Republican presidents, such as Calvin Coolidge, were investing taxpayer money in the form of grants to all-Black colleges.
If ever there was a time for reparations, it was immediately following the Civil War. Though not enough, the spirit of reparations was behind the “40 acres and a mule” offered to freed slaves as a result of negotiations between General Sherman, Radical Republicans Senator Charles Sumner and Representative Thaddeus Stevens. Former slaves could own land upon which they had been forced to labor without compensation. The policy was terminated by southern Democrat Vice President Andrew Johnson when he assumed the presidency upon the assassination of President Lincoln.
A more appropriate approach is to develop and enact policies that will free those Black Americans who currently are trapped in the ghettoes of our major cities under de facto racist policies of the one-party political machines. There is no reason to compensate for the past – but every reason to address the manifest inequality of the present.
So, there ‘tis.