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The dead-end Case for Reparations

The dead-end Case for Reparations

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ backwards looking road to nowhere.

The 15,000+ word essay by Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic, The Case for Reparations, is getting completely predictable reactions.

It’s looooong, which gives it a perceived weight which just is not there.  

In fact, there’s not much new there, except for historical anecdotes shedding detail but not light on what we already knew to be the history of slavery, segregation and discrimination:

… the crime with which reparations activists charge the country implicates more than just a few towns or corporations. The crime indicts the American people themselves, at every level, and in nearly every configuration. A crime that implicates the entire American people deserves its hearing in the legislative body that represents them.

…. 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.

Coates never gives the answer as to who gets what and how.

And that’s ultimately the problem with reparations arguments that are not based upon the people causing the harm paying the people directly harmed by specific conduct soon after the conduct is remedied.

If you can’t answer the question of why a Vietnamese boat person has to pay reparations for the conduct of white plantation owners more than a century earlier, then you can’t make the argument.

If you can’t answer the question of why two successful black doctors living in a fashionable suburb should get reparations paid for by the white children of Appalachia, then you can’t make the argument.

If you can’t answer the question of why the adult black recent immigrant from Paris should be pay or be paid reparations based on the color of his skin for crimes committed in a land he did not grow up in, then you can’t make the argument.

And what about the increasing number of children of mixed race?

And I could go on and on.

Ultimately, Coates’ argument is a dead end.

And he seems to recognize that.  He wants a permanent inquisition, a guilt commission:

The popular mocking of reparations as a harebrained scheme authored by wild-eyed lefties and intellectually unserious black nationalists is fear masquerading as laughter. Black nationalists have always perceived something unmentionable about America that integrationists dare not acknowledge—that white supremacy is not merely the work of hotheaded demagogues, or a matter of false consciousness, but a force so fundamental to America that it is difficult to imagine the country without it….

What is needed is an airing of family secrets, a settling with old ghosts. What is needed is a healing of the American psyche and the banishment of white guilt.

What I’m talking about is more than recompense for past injustices—more than a handout, a payoff, hush money, or a reluctant bribe. What I’m talking about is a national reckoning that would lead to spiritual renewal. Reparations would mean the end of scarfing hot dogs on the Fourth of July while denying the facts of our heritage. Reparations would mean the end of yelling “patriotism” while waving a Confederate flag. Reparations would mean a revolution of the American consciousness, a reconciling of our self-image as the great democratizer with the facts of our history.

…. as if we have not been having that conversation and playing on that collective guilt for three generations.

And as if we have not thrown trillions at the problem, and sullied ourselves with engaging in more racism to remedy past racism.

And as if we live in a static world were it’s always 1863, or at best 1963, and people are captive victims to history, including history in which they did not participate.

While Coates article will be celebrated because it so much fits the mainstream liberal narrative, it’s ultimately a backwards looking road to nowhere.

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“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.”

Ummm…. who were in fact almost all slave holders. The ones who could afford it, anyway. He wants us to be worthy of THEIR ‘wisdom’ on THIS issue ???? Really ???

Would he be happy if all us white folk went out to a restaurant, ate poison for dinner, and then shot the chef and the waiter before we died ? Assuming they were also white, of course.

    Ragspierre in reply to pjm. | May 22, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    “Ummm…. who were in fact almost all slave holders.”

    This is historical idiocy. Many of the Founders were staunchly ANTI-SLAVERY.

    Good freaking grief.

      pjm in reply to Ragspierre. | May 23, 2014 at 8:06 am

      George Washington and Thomas Jefferson came to mind. Both slave owners.

      pjm in reply to Ragspierre. | May 23, 2014 at 8:24 am

      On this list, 16 to 7 in favor of owning slaves, as demonstrated by the fact that they DID, no matter what they SAID. Once again, you demonstrate your little reading comprehension problem.

      Slaveholders among prominent Founding Fathers (16)

      Charles Carroll Maryland
      Samuel Chase Maryland
      Benjamin Franklin Pennsylvania
      Button Gwinnett Georgia
      John Hancock Massachusetts
      Patrick Henry Virginia
      Thomas Paine Pennsylvania
      John Jay New York
      Roger Sherman Connecticut
      Thomas Jefferson Virginia
      Richard Henry Lee Virginia
      James Madison Virginia
      Charles Cotesworth Pinckney South Carolina
      Benjamin Rush Pennsylvania
      Edward Rutledge South Carolina
      George Washington Virginia

      Non-slave holders (7)

      John Adams Massachusetts
      Samuel Adams Massachusetts
      Oliver Ellsworth Connecticut
      Alexander Hamilton New York
      Robert Treat Paine Massachusetts
      Thomas Paine Pennsylvania
      Roger Sherman Connecticut

        Ragspierre in reply to pjm. | May 23, 2014 at 9:02 am

        Yah, no. You are…as usual…showing your gross ignorance and willingness to show your ass.

        You have actually slandered several people on your simple-minded and FALSE list.

        Oh, well. Another day, another stupid.

          pjm in reply to Ragspierre. | May 23, 2014 at 9:46 am

          Name them.

          OH, wait, you’re not good with names, huh ?

          Do ya think they’ll sue me ?

          Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | May 23, 2014 at 10:20 am

          No, you’re safe from a lawsuit. You can lie with impunity.

          I could name them. But it would be better for everyone here to do the research.

          Needless to say, your original assertion was false. Your effort to justify your falsehood was…typically…false, too.


          Yah, right. IOW, you can’t back up your smoke. That came from your back area. but a bit lower.

          Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | May 23, 2014 at 2:11 pm

          Well, surprise, surprise. Another lie.

          Just one, to get you started, then…

          Roger Sherman never owned a slave that I have found any reference to.

          THAT is just one. Now, show some integrity, and YOU find the rest, and REPORT on them.

          pjm in reply to Ragspierre. | May 23, 2014 at 2:37 pm

          “Hence, it was prudent, believed Sherman, to permit the southern states to continue their importation of slaves.”

          “Connecticut in the Constitutional Convention” by Karl E. Valois

          Close enough.

          As to the rest of your little homework assignemnt – shove it.

          Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | May 23, 2014 at 2:43 pm

          “Slaveholders among prominent Founding Fathers (16)”

          “Roger Sherman”

          But we know that Sherman OPPOSED slavery, AND never owned a slave.

          “Close enough”

          Well, in liar’s poker. Maybe…

          Thank you for today’s demonstration.

    n.n in reply to pjm. | May 22, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Most were indentured servants. An arrangement for compensation, which was quite common in those times. An arrangement unlike slavery; although, frequently conflated for political leverage.

LukeHandCool | May 22, 2014 at 6:38 pm

Got retweeted by Iowahawk on this. But he still owes me for what his ancestors did to mine.

casualobserver | May 22, 2014 at 6:38 pm

15,000 words and the writer still didn’t overcome the basic error in premise. Taking money from people who had nothing to do with the episodes, and in fact find it abhorrent, to give it to people who never suffered anywhere close to the pain and indignities is just wrong. It may satisfy an academic point but solves nothing. And where would it stop? What about earlier slavery in the Middle East?

    SoCA Conservative Mom in reply to casualobserver. | May 22, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    The argument goes something along the lines of if you are white you benefit from white privilege and therefore owe reparations for the continued oppression, real or imagined, of every African American, regardless of their personal ancestry.

      ‘Back then’, whitey sailed to Africa and BOUGHT BLACK SLAVES FROM OTHER BLACKS.

      Whitey did NOT go out in the jungle and capture them, mainly because whitey would have been lion food at the end of the day. The blacks KNEW how to fight in that environment, whitey did not.

      So, take it back to it’s origins: Who enslaved those blacks ? Who put them in restraints at spear point ? Who marched them to coast to be sold to whitey ? OTHER BLACKS DID IT !

    The obvious error of his argument seems the assumption that without putting dollar value on suffering of people generations ago we are somehow refusing to face history. That’s simply not true because our society does not only continue discussing race relations, but views the world through the prism of history of race relations in America (Israel, for instance, where it absolutely does not apply). More to the point, paying reparations does not alleviate the need of remembering past mistakes, the conversation will still be there — as it should be. And what does money transfer has to do with anything?

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to casualobserver. | May 22, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    What an absolute load of horseshit (Coates, not you).

    According to Wiki, Coates’ dad was a Black Panther.

    Coates attended Howard University, but dropped out. Yet he is a “visiting professor” at MIT for literature.


    Semper Why in reply to casualobserver. | May 23, 2014 at 7:35 am

    What makes you think he would ever want it to stop?

LukeHandCool | May 22, 2014 at 6:48 pm

Daily Kos Marcos called Coates “America’s greatest writer.”

There’s your first counterfeit reparation.

Howard Roark | May 22, 2014 at 6:49 pm

I would assume that any registered Republican would be exempt from all responsibility to pay reparations…seeing as the party was formed to end slavery and voted in a much higher rate for federal civil rights legislation than did Democrats beginning in the 1800s.

Also exempted from paying any reparations should be any American whose ancestors arrived in America AFTER slavery ended in 1865. All who arrived after 1865 and their descendants should also be excluded from collecting reparations.

So that leaves Democrats (the party of the plantation class) left to pay to direct descendants of actual slaves.

    Ragspierre in reply to Howard Roark. | May 22, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    There’s a very good argument to be made that the vast wealth transfers under The War On Poverty served as a de facto “reparation”.

    One thing that is certain, however, is that black people in America have never been damaged by anything in our history more than LBJ’s “kindness” program and its progeny.

      Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | May 23, 2014 at 7:52 am

      Pigford. I nearly forgot Pigford.

      See, on of the things about the Obamic Decline is that almost every new day brings a new depredation, and you just forget stuff.

LukeHandCool | May 22, 2014 at 6:50 pm

I think the descendants of the black Africans who conquered, enslaved, and then sold the people who would become slaves in America should be the first to cut a check. At least the first to start the discussion.

    tom swift in reply to LukeHandCool. | May 22, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    The African slave trade the English tapped into for their slaves shipped to the New World wasn’t based so much on conquest as convenience. That was atypical of the worldwide history of slavery. Slavery in the classical world, in Europe, and in Mesoamerica was indeed based on conquest.

    Slavery was particularly useful for the more sophisticated Indian civilizations of Central and South America. They never developed any serious form of mechanical power (wind, water, or steam) and had no useful draft animals after the horses and their relatives went extinct in this part of the world. Somebody had to do the heavy lifting.

The party of slavery and the Jim Crow laws was the Democrat Party. If Coates is willing to have a special level on all Democrats, I would support that.

MLK Jr. called for equality. Coates wants to hang the “original sin” of slavery around the necks of hundreds of millions of people who have never committed acts of racism. He wants permanent victim status for anyone who can be identifies as blacks.

To put this in perspective, slavery, as an accepted practice throughout the world didn’t begin with Africans being sold to America; it ended with it. Blacks and Arabs of Africa enslaved twice as many white Europeans in the 16th through the 18th century as were Africans sold to America in the same period. If we want to really go the reparation route for the sins of slavery past, the Egyptians owe the Jews, the Romans owe Celts and Welsh, Turks owe Christians in central Europe, a lot of people owe the slav’s, who were so often enslaved that their name gave us the word “slave,” the Mongols owe all others orientals, and, most importantly, the Africans and Islamists owe the white Europeans.

Obama, who is half white, has no slaves in his background, but his ancestors were from Kenya, a country where slave trading of black Africans was big business. His wife has a slave in her ancestry. So figure out who owes who reparations in the Obama household.

Not only collective sin, but also inherited sin. These are doctrines of a degenerate religion.

As for reparations, Coates should look to his own party in order to locate his lost dowry. Coates is part of the problem.

    David R. Graham in reply to n.n. | May 22, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    Hooey and hooey. No religion posits collective sin, only legalism does that. And democrats are no more guilty of collective sin than anyone else is.

    David R. Graham in reply to n.n. | May 22, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    I neglected a hooey. Hooey. No religion posits inherited sin. Again, only legalism does that.

      Juba Doobai! in reply to David R. Graham. | May 22, 2014 at 8:09 pm

      Er, actually, Christianity posits inherited sin. It is called “original sin” and it’s why we need Christ the Redeemer: in Adam all men die; in Christ all are made alive.

        Immolate in reply to Juba Doobai!. | May 23, 2014 at 9:07 am

        That’s not Christianity. That’s Catholicism. Please don’t confuse them. It’s offensive.

          pjm in reply to Immolate. | May 23, 2014 at 9:49 am

          Really ? only Catholics believe in the Adam and Eve in the Garden thing ? Apples and Original Sin and all that ?

          Radegunda in reply to Immolate. | May 23, 2014 at 1:05 pm

          I was brought up in a major Protestant denomination and taught that we are all — every one of us — born into sin. That sounds like “inherited” to me.

          Juba Doobai! in reply to Immolate. | May 24, 2014 at 12:00 pm

          You don’t know what you are talking about. The Church of Rome is semi-Pelagian wrt original sin. The Bible is not. So, go read your Bible. There is no point discussing anything with you until then.

    pjm in reply to n.n. | May 23, 2014 at 8:10 am

    How about ‘original sin’ in Christianity ? Both
    inherited’ and ‘collective’.

JimMtnViewCaUSA | May 22, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Being in CA, I hang out with, and hear the voices of, many Asian and some Mexican people.
They tend to have little sympathy. The attitude I most often hear (couched in attitudes that our delicate lib/prog friends would find unabashedly racist) is along the lines of “Sh*t. I came here with a couple of bucks and a few words of English. Now I’m working a steady job. What’s wrong with those people? They’ve been natives here for their whole lives. They can’t make it through school? They can’t hold a job? They expect _us_ to support _them_?”

People like Coates need to take their eyes off White people and re-focus on other people of color….

    Coates is playing the role of Mandela, who conspired with international left-wing interests to defeat black and white South Africans. Coates hopes that his support for the party of slavery, discrimination, and abortion/murder will win him a high status in the party.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to n.n. | May 23, 2014 at 12:18 am

      Coates is clearly very political. I would not be surprised to see him run for Rangel’s seat when Rangel, now in his 80s, dies or retires.

        I’ll put money down that he won’t.

        Coates’ real desire is to be the Race Expert on MSNBC. He wants Toure’s job. He just doesn’t have the TV chops to pull it off and it burns him up inside.

        Be a politician for Coates is impossible at this point. He’s said too many stupid things in print over too long a time. Also, politicians have to work at networking and that involves leaving the office, making friends, glad-handing, fundraising, etc. The closest thing Coates does to work is censoring his comments section.

          JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Semper Why. | May 23, 2014 at 4:04 pm

          “Be a politician for Coates is impossible at this point. He’s said too many stupid things in print over too long a time.”

          Nancy Pelosi would disagree.

          “Also, politicians have to work at networking and that involves leaving the office, making friends, glad-handing, fundraising, etc. The closest thing Coates does to work is censoring his comments section.”

          Work? We’re talking about Harlem, where Coates lives. All Harlem residents are born with a “Get out of work free” card.

    Juba Doobai! in reply to JimMtnViewCaUSA. | May 22, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    That’s also the view of many non-native blacks. As my mother used to say, “get up and get!” There is nothing as energizing as coming to a new country, not knowing anyone, and having to provide for people in another country. When you’re busy getting, you don’t have time for grievance.

Coates conveniently ignores the Africans who prospered from and fostered the slave trade for many decades. And some still do.

He’s gonna have a real hard time separating the ancestral sheep from the goats.

My family goes back a long way in the South and in Texas. Some were slave holders. I have seen documents where they sought reparations after the Civil War for steamboats and cotton lost in that conflagration. They were never given a nickle.

There isn’t a race of people without a slave history, near as I can tell.

Black Americans are not a special case. Indeed, Thomas Sowell has written they are net beneficiaries.

But I bet Coates never deals with Sowell’s arguments.

    MaggotAtBroadAndWall in reply to Ragspierre. | May 22, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    I remember an excellent column about slavery written by Thomas Sowell several years ago. In it, he demonstrates that the history of the world was slavery UNTIL the United States was formed. No society, no religion, no race, no empire was immune. Slavery was a global institution. It’s just how the world worked. In fact, it’s my understanding the etymology of the word slaves comes from the Slavic people, or “Slavs”, of Central/Eastern Europe who spent so much time enslaved by other Europeans.

    Just did a Google search and found the column from 2003.

    David R. Graham in reply to Ragspierre. | May 22, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    As much or more than Africans, Arabs have and do prosper from slavery. Saudis could not exist without slavery. Kuwaitis largely too. Chinese? World champions.

LukeHandCool | May 22, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Stains are stains.

Whether on carpets or history.

You can keep scrubbing an old stain again and again, but it’s not going to come out.

It’s better just to learn from them to avoid making future stains.

    Ragspierre in reply to LukeHandCool. | May 22, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    But stains belong to those whose actions caused them.

    I am not…and nobody can make me…responsible for the Rape Of Nanking, The Black Hole Of Calcutta, the massacre at Khartoum, the Crusades, or any other historic wrong.

    I have plenty to keep track of, and I’ll be damned if I let some cloying grievance-monger put anything on me I did not do.

      David R. Graham in reply to Ragspierre. | May 22, 2014 at 7:50 pm

      Crusades were a historic right until hijacked by businessmen.

      Juba Doobai! in reply to Ragspierre. | May 22, 2014 at 8:00 pm

      The Crusades were not an historic wrong. They were defensive wars against jihad aggression, and, yes, there were some atrocities committed. They were no more wrong than was the Vietnam or Iraq wars.

Slavery is as old as civilization. But a group of “religious fundamentalists” in Britain, France, and the United States first got the trade banned, and then finally the end of slavery itself through out the western world.

Yet for taking less then a hundred years to end a millenia old institution the United States is to be damned? This is insanity.

Oh, and along these lines, the aristocracy of Europe dominated our ancestors and held them in conditions only slightly better then slavery. When are we getting reparations from the current European states for serfdom?

You can go back many, many generations in my family and find no one who ever participated in slavery, or segregation, or discrimination against black people. It’s true that my ancestors immigrated from all-white places to almost equally white places, but my parents demonstrated in word and deed that they regarded black people as having equal dignity to whites.

I regularly see black people driving cars that are way beyond my budget, and it strikes me as perverse that some of them may think I owe them something simply because I am white and they have ancestors that other white people held as slaves. In a moral universe, I owe them nothing whatsoever beyond basic human decency.

    David R. Graham in reply to Radegunda. | May 22, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    Virtually every American African has European blood, so, reparations owed to themselves by themselves. Pound sand. Laugh in their faces.

    dorsaighost in reply to Radegunda. | May 22, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    those folks that think you owe them solely based on the color of your skin vs their skin color are pure and simple racists … pay them no mind …

LukeHandCool | May 22, 2014 at 7:39 pm

One of Michelle Obama’s ancestors was Henry W. Shields, a Georgia slave owner.

I have no slave owners in my ancestry.

So, Michelle Obama has more culpability than me.

Strange world, strange melting pot, eh?

    LukeHandCool in reply to LukeHandCool. | May 22, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Take time to ponder this.

    No Henry W. Shields … no Michelle Obama.

    Go back in time in a time machine and snuff out one of your ancestors, and you’ll return to the present time to find you don’t exist.

Juba Doobai! | May 22, 2014 at 7:56 pm

A decade or so ago, I heard a lecture, on the subject of reparations, from an African-born economics professor at Medgar Evers College. His argument was simple: before asking Britain and the US to pay a dime, those seeking reparations must ask Africa to pay up for selling her children.

The guy even had the interest charts showing how much money was due from Africa. Tennessee Coates and company need to look past the Middle Passage to the slave sellers. One reason they won’t want to look is the role of Islam in slavery of Africans, still going on today. The constant jihad warfare, as the people in Sudan, Mauritania, and other points well know, produced a huge crop of enslaved Africans, and these were sold to Europeans who did them a favor, really, and brought them to the new world. The Europeans were the slave-buyers not the slave-makers. That honor went to the tribal chiefs who made war on each other and to the Muslims who conducted jihad to forcefully spread Islam.

We who were so transported via the Middle Passage grew up with slavery as part of our history but without the oppressiveness of jihad. Though we were oppressed in the new lands, eventually, thanks to the efforts of British and Christians, we regained our freedom. Therefore, any serious claim for reparations must begin not with the buyers but with the sellers.

Moreover, Eric Williams, in his book Capitalism and Slavery, for those decrying the racism of slavery, argues that slavery was not about race but about economics. That was certainly true when, in Virginia, a black land owner brought a case before the court concerning his field hand; the landowner asserted that he had the right to expectation of lifetime labor from his field hand, and the court concurred. Thus began slavery in America. The oppressive racist angle came via the Democrats of the South, who did to blacks what Hitler and Muslims today are doing with Jews: dehumanize them in order to achieve an economic or political objective.

So, Coates et al need to look in the mirror when demanding reparations.

When Coates gets equally wee-weed up about CONTEMPORARY slaving…much of it by “people of color”…going on around the globe…

someone give me a jingle. Until then, he’s just another Collectivist with a word-processor and a gaping double-standard.

“the history of the world was slavery UNTIL the United States was formed.”

Actually, the history of the world was slavery until the steam engine was perfected and applied to labor saving machinery.

Technically, slavery was abolished long before any actual slaves were freed. The major reason for the delay between promise and execution being economics.

Without directed and forced labor being applied to agriculture and to some extent manufacturing, the United States and other countries would not have had the wealth that they did.

Only after machines were able to replace that labor at an economical cost was slavery seen as no longer required for wealth.

If any reparations should be paid, it should be the major recipients of that wealth’s descendants and it should only be paid for the descendants of those who actually performed that labor.

It is beyond comprehension that it could be applied to a nation at large. The United States did not partake of slaves, did not own them, did not sell them. That’s where the reparations argument founders.

Along with determining who exactly is a direct descendant and to what degree it should pass to is not the only genealogical problem.

Who were the direct recipients of slavery and who are their descendants is the other problem.

Typically, Coates doesn’t address his arguments at large. They are written solely for his similarly hued brethren and the question has to be asked what his real goal is.

Is it to have a genuine discussion or is it to incite and inflame passions in the AA community to stir up anger and frustration at the rejection of a preposterous proposition?

Coates is so full of blather and nonsense that even he recognizes he can’t win in a rational discussion of the facts and the truth.

It’s why he never allows comments for his droppings at the Atlantic.

In a way we already are paying reparations. It just happens to be in the form of police officers, jail services, assigned council, court time, corrections officers and prison space followed by probation/parole officers.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Anchovy. | May 23, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner – except you left out welfare, obamaphones, set asides, dumbed-down curricula, free tuition, economic/business preferences, college admission preferences, employment preferences, housing and mortgage preferences (and most of the costs associated with those debacles), the medical costs of treating the victims of ghetto-rat violence, insurance and lawsuit scams and….and….need I go on?

      Bruno Lesky in reply to JackRussellTerrierist. | May 23, 2014 at 6:13 pm

      Adding here many … : public school teacher jobs … college diversity jobs … Obamacare Navigator jobs … census-taker jobs … ACORN handouts … civil servant jobs…

      US govt policy designed to redistribute suburban tax revenue to cities … elimination of voter ID…

      Head Start ….

Henry Hawkins | May 22, 2014 at 8:53 pm

My mother didn’t arrive in America till 1934, my father in 1933, after slavery but concurrent with Jim Crow, separate but equal, and state-sanctioned redlining. Do you think we could get a reduced rate? Say 30% of what you Mayflowerians will have to pay? But wait, the solution now hits me…….

Worry not, Insurrectionists. Elizabeth Warren will put the stops on any reparations movement. Do you think she’s gonna stand for forcing Cherokee people to pay?

There remain a boatload of professional victim con artists out there, a full-throated something-for-nothing horde.

By 2034 our tax base will be down to one single middle-aged white guy in Kansas who works and pays for every other citizen in the country. When he inevitably goes down under the load, we’re finally screwed. We become Canada’s 11th province or Mexico’s 32nd state.

    We got here in 1990, presumably to profit from prosperity that only exists because before the Civil War half the states allowed slavery. Time to pay up.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Henry Hawkins. | May 23, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    Not to worry, Henry. ‘Rats will always find ways to write laws that leave plenty of exceptions to extricate their interest groups from the burden.

LukeHandCool | May 22, 2014 at 8:54 pm

“Dude, slavery was abolished like well over two years ago.”

—Tommy Vietor to Brett Baier on Coates’s Atlantic essay.

If we are going to do reparations, start with all ancestors of native americans who were oppressed (and exterminated) first.

If there is any money left over, give each race-mongerer a one-way plane ticket back to Africa.

    tom swift in reply to Fen. | May 23, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    The two aren’t comparable.

    Africans brought to the Americas were never involved in a plan to fight the colonies. But large numbers of Indians were. The British plan was to enlist them as allies to attack colonial settlements in the Ohio Valley and drive whoever survived back east. Back then the Ohio Valley was a big deal; it included the bulk of what was at the time “the West”, excepting the southern bits, which were Spanish possessions. The campaign started in 1776 and initially proceeded in grand Indian form, with the burning of entire towns, bound captives thrown into the flames, etc. Though strangely enough the Indians didn’t burn children; they chopped their arms and legs off instead (I have no idea why, I have no insight into the Indian fascination with murder and torture – probably a “multicultural” thing). Of course it backfired badly when the colonists began to push back seriously about a year later.

    In the end, the Indians were badly scrod by the whole thing. They weren’t represented at the Treaty of Paris which established the United States and ended the war with Britain, so for them, the war didn’t end in 1783. This was a major cockup by Britain. The English still had a plan to hem the new country in from the West by treaty, by establishing an Indian state – “Indiana” – and confining the United States to a thin veneer of settlements along the Atlantic coast. But John Jay, Adams, and Franklin, the American negiotators in Paris, managed to turn George Clark’s (that’s the brother of the Clark of Lewis & Clark) wintertime capture of Vincennes into a concession of “the West” to the Americans. After that the Indians were dropped entirely by the British, who seem to have been embarrassed by the whole thing, and reluctant to admit to their genocidal wartime program. During the Revolution, Lord Germain, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, had mentioned the plan twice in Parliament, but that was easily forgotten. So the Americans (ex-colonists) stayed at war with the Indians, and continued to fight until the Indians were no longer a menace to civilization. It took a while. The last Indian raid – the type where a band left a reservation or some other Indian territory, attacked nearby farms and ranches, and burned some farmers to death just for fun – was in 1912.

    As for black Americans brought here as slaves, they never attacked the US or even staged any effective revolts. There was a successful slave revolt in the Caribbean, at the instigation of England to annoy the French, but of course that wasn’t in the US.

Also, I’d like reparations from blacks for driving my own ancestors out of Africa.

(yes thats how stupid this concept is)

oh, that was 2 million years ago, so dont forget the interest. I think 3% is fair.

dorsaighost | May 22, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Pure and simple that man will judge me by the color of my white(ish) skin … which by any definition is racism … he should be shunned like Sterling and fired from any job he has … (isn’t that the standard treatment for obvious racists now ?)

If Coates could plausibly assure me that paying reparations to blacks would remedy the profound pathologies in the African American culture, e.g., massive welfare dependence, hugely disproportionate criminality, the “Knockout game,” etc., etc., I might be willing to consider the proposition.

MouseTheLuckyDog | May 22, 2014 at 10:47 pm

I’m Slavic. Guess where the word slave comes from. Where are my reparations, seem to be thousands of years overdue.

Professor have you gotten your reparations from the Egyptians yet?

    Exactly. The SLAVIC region was so infested with slavery, they named it after them. Whites enslaving whites.

    Let’s face it, all of human history is infested with it, and it’s not racial. The Roman Legions gave the men in countries they conquered a choice – join the Army, or die now. Of course, the Pharaohs in Egypt did it against the Jews. The blacks did it to other blacks in Africa. The Samurai in Japan did it to ‘lesser’ Japanese. The Chinese ruling classes did it to the peasants. As did European ‘nobility’. On and on and on.

    Also, as some blacks still do to this day in Africa.

    Slavery is a HUMAN failing, not just a racial ‘whitey failing’.

OK…. say this country decided to give every Black person alive on January 1, 2015 $10,000. Who would profit most from this?

Book stores?
Apple iPad?
Some recording companies?

Where would the money be spent? Does anyone actually think that, in the end, Blacks would be the ones that ended up with most of the money?

If I owned a store that sold Air Jordans, I would be all for this reparation thing. It would simply be a way to redistribute wealth but most of that wealth will not remain within the black community for any length of time.

IANAL, but it seems to me that any question of reparations is in essence a tort claim. Is there any basis in law for litigating torts of centuries previous? Against defendants with only a distant relation in blood to the alleged original sinners? And with plaintiffs whose blood surely includes a variety of those sinners’?

It’s just another whining excuse for black underperformance. We fail, therefore it is your fault.

Coates needs to understand that if he were an Irishman offering such drivel, no major magazine would publish it. His success is entirely due to his skin color and his demands on account of it.

My paternal ancestors were dirt poor up-staters who never owned a slave. They did, however, fight and sometimes die to see slavery abolished in the 1860’s. My mom came to the US in the 1960’s from Germany.

As I see it, Americans of African decent who’s ancestors were enslaved by other Americans owe me a debt of gratitude for my kin that died so they can be free. You’re welcome.

Henry Hawkins | May 23, 2014 at 11:11 am

We could pay, but racism would continue, and sooner or later another round of reparations would be in order.

What is deliberately left out of the scam “reparations” movement (which is more about perpetual power than money, but the money angle is always sweet) is that chattel slaves weren’t the only non-free people around.

My own family was sold out of England’s debtor prison and brought to the new world in 1697. They were sold to work on a Virginia plantation and just barely paid back the bond (and earned their freedom) in about 60 years.

Henry Hawkins | May 23, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Slavery = selling humans as product, of course.

In re: American slavery and reparations, why are they only going after the retail sales merchants and ignoring the wholesellers back on the African coast, the Africans who were exporting all the slaves? And they were the only player who got a cut of every slave.

Throwing out all of the wealth transfer and affirmative action policies that have disproportionately benefited blacks the last 50 years, they’re already forgetting the greatest “reparation” of all: slavery was a free ticket to America for their ancestors and all their descendants.

Even the worst, most squalid black communities in the United States are far superior to the life of the average person in their ancestral homes. I’m not excusing slavery or Jim Crow or the sins of our ancestors, but today’s average black American would be far worse off had slavery never existed.

Yes, many blacks in this country are born into less than favorable conditions. So? Asian and now Hispanic immigrants have come to this country with nothing, faced racial discrimination, not spoken the language, and have passed black Americans in nearly every metric except racial grievance mongering.

PersonFromPorlock | May 23, 2014 at 3:10 pm

The one case for reparations that I can think of that would have a realistic chance of succeeding would be for an American black to sue the Democratic party for the havoc its members have wrought on the black family in the last fifty years.

The narrative and attitude of perpetual, self-styled victimization that is ceaselessly promoted by politicians, black “leaders” and Leftist “activists” is as patronizing to blacks as it is conceptually fallacious, as patently asinine as it is unproductive.

By the way, does anyone recall the fiasco that ensued a few years ago, when the Department of Agriculture instituted a multi-billion dollar settlement that was supposed to have benefited black farmers and their descendents who had been the victims of inequitable loan policies and other conduct by the Department? What should have been a settlement benefiting a limited number of claimants who could document that they had been victimized, ended up turning into a revolting fiasco and orgy of gluttony and wanton greed, as thousands of meritless claims were submitted by blacks with no current or historical roots in farming, who were looking to perpetrate outright fraud. They succeeded. A small taste of what any “reparations” system would wreak.

So in short, the Reparations Supporters don’t know exactly what acts they are going to impose reparations for (Slavery, racism, discrimination), who exactly they are going to award them to (only descendants of ex-slaves, anybody with any percentage of African ancestors) who will pay the bill (somebody other than them, of course), how much that bill will be per individual, how many years the payments would be made over, or even how to make sure the payments are made to the correct people, but there’s one thing they agree on.

It’s our fault.

harleycowboy | May 23, 2014 at 11:30 pm

No reparation without repatriation.

William A. Jacobson: If you can’t answer the question of why

Leaving aside any supposed wisdom of reparations, the answer is simple. It’s called corporate responsibility. If a division of a corporation, unbeknownst to you as an owner, commits a grievous harm to a group of people in order to reap a benefit, the corporation can be held liable. And that can cost you profits, or even your entire holding.

If the United States committed a crime, there may be a moral responsibility. Individual states clearly committed crimes, directly violating the 14th Amendment, and they have a moral obligation to make amends. Again, this doesn’t address the wisdom of reparations, but answers your unanswerable question.

William A. Jacobson: And as if we live in a static world were it’s always 1863, or at best 1963, and people are captive victims to history, including history in which they did not participate.

Ultimately, forgiveness is essential to reconciliation, but forgetfulness stymies forgiveness.

    pst314 in reply to Zachriel. | May 28, 2014 at 10:02 am

    So, you have a simple answer: “corporate responsibility” in the form of people being punished forever for the sins of their ancestors…or simply because they “look like” those who did wrongs. We’ve noticed that these demands for “reparations” will never end, so we don’t take you very seriously–or rather we don’t take you as the sort of person you like to think of yourself as being.

    As for forgiveness and forgetfulness: Only a fool or a troll would even imply that slavery and Jim Crow have been forgotten.

      pst314 in reply to pst314. | May 29, 2014 at 10:20 am

      And by the way, what sane and decent person thinks that people living today need to be forgiven for things they did not do?

Folks, prepare yourself for a LOT more of this type of article and other news stories about reparations, voter ID, etc. over the next six months.

CNN or MSNBC will probably have a multi-part series about the need for reparations or the eeevilness of voter ID laws.

This is all about increasing black turnout in the November elections.