screengrab from https://youtu.be/EKjrgJfm4bE
Back in 2014, Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote an article for the Atlantic called The Case for Reparations. Coates, in my view, is one of that glib class of writers, left and right, who have limited life experience, and what they have is almost 100% within commentary journalism, but who pretend to have all the answers when it is obvious they don’t really comprehend the questions. The essay was mostly ignored on the right (I say mostly, it was given attention by that breed of conservative who is never around to fight Democrats but is first in line to scold the rest of us for being really bad people) but on the left, it became a big hit. If you are afflicted with chronic and terminal white guilt syndrome you can’t help but be impressed by a laundry list of grievances and prose like this:
One cannot escape the question by hand-waving at the past, disavowing the acts of one’s ancestors, nor by citing a recent date of ancestral immigration. The last slaveholder has been dead for a very long time. The last soldier to endure Valley Forge has been dead much longer. To proudly claim the veteran and disown the slaveholder is patriotism à la carte. A nation outlives its generations. We were not there when Washington crossed the Delaware, but Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze’s rendering has meaning to us. We were not there when Woodrow Wilson took us into World War I, but we are still paying out the pensions. If Thomas Jefferson’s genius matters, then so does his taking of Sally Hemings’s body. If George Washington crossing the Delaware matters, so must his ruthless pursuit of the runagate Oney Judge.
In 1909, President William Howard Taft told the country that “intelligent” white southerners were ready to see blacks as “useful members of the community.” A week later Joseph Gordon, a black man, was lynched outside Greenwood, Mississippi. The high point of the lynching era has passed. But the memories of those robbed of their lives still live on in the lingering effects. Indeed, in America there is a strange and powerful belief that if you stab a black person 10 times, the bleeding stops and the healing begins the moment the assailant drops the knife. We believe white dominance to be a fact of the inert past, a delinquent debt that can be made to disappear if only we don’t look.
And with this demand for perpetual wearing of sackcloth and ashes by everyone who is white comes, of course, a demand for money:
John Conyers’s HR 40 is the vehicle for that hearing. No one can know what would come out of such a debate. Perhaps no number can fully capture the multi-century plunder of black people in America. Perhaps the number is so large that it can’t be imagined, let alone calculated and dispensed. But I believe that wrestling publicly with these questions matters as much as—if not more than—the specific answers that might be produced. An America that asks what it owes its most vulnerable citizens is improved and humane. An America that looks away is ignoring not just the sins of the past but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future. More important than any single check cut to any African American, the payment of reparations would represent America’s maturation out of the childhood myth of its innocence into a wisdom worthy of its founders.
You don’t have to deny any of Coates’s factoids to see that what he’s doing is demanding that racial politics and racial guilt be incorporated into American life with the object being the destruction of the very idea of anyone being American. Just because someone’s ancestors were massacred at Drogheda, or died in the Middle Passage, or were slaughtered at Auschwitz doesn’t mean I owe you jack sh**. I don’t. So don’t even ask.
In fact, reparations, whether purely monetary or including the psychic enslavement of non-blacks, has been rejected by every major national candidate since the idea first appeared. Barack Obama even said his daughters should not benefit from affirmative action.
But now two major contenders for the Democrat nomination for president have unambiguously and wholeheartedly embraced the idea of making reparations law.
From the very first day of the 2020 presidential race, when Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts blamed “generations of discrimination” for black families earning far less than white households, Democratic hopefuls have broadly emphasized racial justice and closing the wealth gap in their policy platforms.
But in recent weeks, some candidates have started embracing specific goals and overtly race-conscious legislation that even the most left-wing elected officials stayed away from in recent years.
Last week, on the popular radio show “The Breakfast Club,” Senator Kamala Harris of California agreed with a host’s suggestion that government reparations for black Americans were necessary to address the legacies of slavery and discrimination. Ms. Harris later affirmed that support in a statement to The New York Times.
“We have to be honest that people in this country do not start from the same place or have access to the same opportunities,” she said. “I’m serious about taking an approach that would change policies and structures and make real investments in black communities.”
Ms. Warren also said she supported reparations for black Americans impacted by slavery — a policy that experts say could cost several trillion dollars, and one that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and many top Democrats have not supported.
In addition, two other “candidates” Julian Castro and Marianne Williamson have likewise endorsed the idea.
The Washington Post has this commentary:
Get ready to hear the r-word a lot on the campaign trail over the next 20 months, mainly from Republicans who will use it to try painting Democrats as far-left and out-of-touch extremists.
For a party that has been talking smack about Trump’s “divisiveness,” it is hard to imagine an act more likely to open up barely healed racial wounds or to cause more animosity that embracing a policy that literally calls for scapegoating about 85% of the US population. And, for the record, if you support socialism and killing babies and race-based reparations no one has to “try” to paint you as “far-left and out-of-touch extremists.” You’ve already slathered yourself in that paint.
For your amusement, here are Tucker Carlson and Mark Steyn discussing the issue with all the seriousness that it merits.
I’m on Facebook. Drop by and join the fun there.