Some of the Democratic candidates are accepting reparations for black slavery as a plank on their platform. The idea was written about extensively in an Atlantic article by Ta-Nehisi Coates in 2014, saying that it’s time that America apologized for 250 years of black enslavement and 90 years of Jim Crow and discrimination thereafter – presumably even until the present. U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee from Texas introduced a bill in January of this years called HR40 to study the effects of slavery and the subsequent oppression of blacks on the wealth gap between whites and blacks: how and in what amounts reparations would compensate the descendants of slaves and financial oppression.
Those who have studied this phenomenon, such as African-American historians and economists, thus far have posited that the amount should be between $6 and $14 trillion. As a reference point of comparison, the German government so far has paid out less than $100 billion, mostly as direct payments to survivors of the Holocaust. $7 billion of that went to the State of Israel. However, the total amount that Germany has pledged is $240 billion.
So let’s consider some background: As far as an apology: white Americans paid with their lives for the sin of slavery. The Civil War cost America 600,000 lives. The Union side obviously sacrificed for the side of good, and even the Confederacy died for their sins, one might say. At the time of the Civil War there were 15 slave states and 20 free states. Four of the slave states actually fought with the Union side, so they also sacrificed for the righteous cause and should be forgiven for their sins. Their descendants, after 150 years or six to seven generations later, should not have to apologize in addition to that. In addition, if we are “a nation of immigrants” as is so often said by the left as an excuse for open borders policy, then this nation, by definition, is not the same country it was when slavery was practiced.
We hear often from “civil rights leaders” and their loyal followers that white supremacy is “in the DNA of America” or that this country was born of violence. However, to begin with, slaves were sold to whites only by black slave captors in Africa. Henry Louis Gates, a highly respected African-American studies professor at Harvard, readily acknowledges this. Furthermore, in this country, whites were not the only slaveholders. Native Americans owned 1,000–1,500 slaves, and in 1830, of the 320,000 free black men, 14% or about 4,000 of them owned roughly 13,000 slaves.
The 11 out of the 15 states who had slaves who fought in the Confederacy lost the war and consequently much of their wealth. The South was in ruins after the war. With slavery ending in 1865 or about 150 years ago, much of the inheritance that was once there is spread so thin over six or seven generations – if it exists at all. That’s why some are turning to the idea of suing corporations such as Aetna or J.P. Morgan that benefited from slave labor. But from a legal standpoint, I’m sure that the statute of limitations has long expired, and from a moral basis is it right to demand of shareholders who bought the stock at a much later time
of the event not knowing of that debt bomb, that they should have to repay it? To fast-forward in history, if we are to pay for the damages for the Jim Crow era, albeit much more recent than slavery but still ending more than 50 years ago, the financial loss to the black community is even less quantifiable
Has America already paid reparations? According to some, such as John McWorter, professor at Columbia University, and famous author and lecturer Shaharazad Ali, what the government has paid out in subsidies targeted mainly for poor blacks in the form of the war on poverty for housing, food stamps, and cash payments as welfare can be considered reparations.
The Heritage Foundation estimated that the government since Lyndon Johnson first put that program into effect 50 years ago has paid out $22 trillion. Granted that not all of that went to poor blacks, but even just 40% of that number would still be around $9 trillion. This is an astounding amount especially in comparison to the $100 billion that Germany paid out to Holocaust victim survivors thus far. The Heritage Foundation further asserts that based on Census Bureau figures we are not appreciably ahead in the war to eradicate poverty than when we started it.
To some of the proponents of reparations, it is at least to their credit that they don’t speak of cash payouts to individuals but rather to programs: this time (as opposed to the war on poverty) subsidies toward housing, education, and child care. Kamala Harris is even more universal in its execution, promoting the Lift Act, which offers tax credits to singles who earn under $50k and families that earn under $100,000.
What troubles me most is that the majority of the candidates showed up to Al Sharpton’s National Action Network to win his support – to kiss his ring, one might say – and essentially be forced to pledge support for the HR40 bill (introduced in Congress to create a commission for reparations to African-Americans). I say what about a commission to study the insidious effects that hate-filled and divisive leaders such as Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan, or Congressman Bobby Rush have had over the past 50 years or so of dividing America and poisoning the minds of black youth with hate-filled messages that accentuate victimhood? What happened to Dr. King’s idea of blacks being unified with whites to want to excel in life and participate in the American dream?
NBC fired Megyn Kelly for innocently asking the question of whether it is wrong to don make-up (so-called black-face) for Halloween if it is done to dress up like a famous black-American person whom one admires, and yet the liberal establishment tolerates and even exalts hateful characters such as Sharpton and Farrakhan, who are seen with American presidents. Sharpton is the perpetuator of the Tawana Brawley hoax as well as the instigator, if not the legal inciter, of the violence at Freddy’s Fashion Mart in Harlem that took the lives of seven people when it was firebombed. Farrakhan has compared Jews to termites and has railed against the “Satanic Jew.”
Any honest observer would say that whites were obviously the oppressors of blacks for most of this country’s history and thereby were the obvious culprit of standing in the way of black people’s progress. But in my opinion, after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in 1968, a negative tide overcame the black civil rights era and allowed a militant and vindictive climate to set in. The massive riots that occurred in that year was the turning point that could be considered emblematic of the attitude of militancy and decadence that was to follow for the next five decades.
From the ‘60s on through the ‘90s, the black counter culture took to crime and subjecting our cities to drugs, murder, robberies, and violent assaults with
corresponding vile rap music lyrics and violence-filled, anti-police-themed movies. That culture taught black youth that to study in school is not considered hip, and doing so would label a black youth as “acting white.” In that era, when the Cabrini Green projects were underfunded by the government and repairs were neglected, instead of peacefully protesting and bringing it to the attention of the public officials the projects were overtaken by drug dealers and criminals. In response, the government expelled all the tenants and the buildings were demolished, displacing many with nowhere to go.
We still have not recaptured the noble message of Dr. King of living in unity and peace. Instead, the negativity and militancy even in recent years took the form of glorifying a villain by the name of Michael Brown, who struggled with a cop to get ahold of the officer’s gun and forced the cop to use lethal force against him. Another case of false martyrdom is attributed to someone by the name of Trayvon Martin who pummeled a volunteer neighborhood watchman’s head onto the concrete and was shot down by the watchman. The latest event of Sodom and Gomorrah-style morality is making Jussie Smollet – who tried so hard to perpetrate a crime hoax against himself as a gay and black person – into some sort of civil rights victim. The hoax cost the city of Chicago $130,000 in overtime alone, money that the city desperately needed to track down real culprits of the 500 murders or so that occur there on a yearly basis.
While it is tragically true that some white people deprived many blacks in this country of financial means, it is also true that with the creative forces and entrepreneurial spirit that this country unleashes, opportunities abound in this day and age for everyone, despite the negativity to the contrary. Oprah Winfrey became a billionaire out of the love and support that she showed America, and the Americans, mostly white at that, loved her and recognized her for the talent that she is. If in fact there is inherited wealth on the part of white Americans, then they parted with that money to make her into a financial powerhouse. I have never heard Oprah say that America discriminated against her apart from the time that she tried getting into a luxury department store after it closed and they wouldn’t let her in. That should be the biggest problem anyone has. There are close to 400,000 black millionaires in this country, and they didn’t achieve that by hating America (aside from some rich rap music artists). I would imagine they got that way the same way Oprah became successful: by loving our country and wanting to do good for others.
The attitude of these successful African-Americans should be extolled and role modeled, and that would be the ultimate boost that many in urban America’s underclass would benefit from. The secret that the left and the militant civil rights movement doesn’t want anyone to know is that America is a great country, despite its horrible past – and that’s why millions of people are clamoring to get here.
By Abe Fuchs