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Great News – Reparations demand causing Dem fissure

Great News – Reparations demand causing Dem fissure

How long before Dems must pander on the issue?

Author Ta-Nehisi Coates is hot, hot, hot in progressive circles.

His demand for Reparations published in The Atlantic pushed him into the stratosphere. But it was an empty, amateurish effort, as I wrote at the time, The dead-end Case for Reparations:

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.

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

Coates’ argument for reparation was nothing more than Redistribution masquerading as reparations, I argued:

As Coates explained his views to Melissa-Harris Perry this morning, it became clear that there is no sense at all of holding the guilty accountable in the sense we normally do, or compensating actual victims.

There is a complete disconnect between cause and effect — anyone with a particular skin color is presumed to be a victim of policies even from generations earlier. It’s a simplistic and non-evidentiary approach which generalizes anecdotes and ignores the myriad of factors that influence success or failure in life.

Rather, this is a societal redistribution, in which the not actually guilty pay, and the not actually injured get compensated, via the power of government to redistribute wealth.

It’s just redistribution with a different justification.

Given that Coates’ argument is fundamentally a redistribution argument, it’s no surprise that Coates is demanding that the current political embodiment of redistribution theory — Bernie Sanders — jump on the redistribution bandwagon.

Coates writes, Why Precisely Is Bernie Sanders Against Reparations?

Last week Bernie Sanders was asked whether he was in favor of “reparations for slavery.” It is worth considering Sanders’s response in full:

No, I don’t think so. First of all, its likelihood of getting through Congress is nil. Second of all, I think it would be very divisive. The real issue is when we look at the poverty rate among the African American community, when we look at the high unemployment rate within the African American community, we have a lot of work to do.

So I think what we should be talking about is making massive investments in rebuilding our cities, in creating millions of decent paying jobs, in making public colleges and universities tuition-free, basically targeting our federal resources to the areas where it is needed the most and where it is needed the most is in impoverished communities, often African American and Latino.

Sanders is a lot of things, many of them good. But he is not the candidate of moderation and unification, so much as the candidate of partisanship and radicalism. There is neither insult nor accolade in this… Radicals expand the political imagination and, hopefully, prevent incrementalism from becoming a virtue.

Unfortunately, Sanders’s radicalism has failed in the ancient fight against white supremacy….

One can’t evade these facts by changing the subject. Some months ago, black radicals in the Black Lives Matters movement protested Sanders. They were, in the main, jeered by the white left for their efforts. But judged by his platform, Sanders should be directly confronted and asked why his political imagination is so active against plutocracy, but so limited against white supremacy. Jim Crow and its legacy were not merely problems of disproportionate poverty. Why should black voters support a candidate who does not recognize this?

This helps explain why Bernie first and foremost was the target of Black Lives Matters’ protesters:

Coates attack on Sanders saw pushback from John McWorter at CNN, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ flawed attack on Bernie Sanders:

…. Coates’ attack on Sanders is premised on a weakness in his general take on black history, which, while charismatically expressed, is vastly oversimplified.

Coates’ version of black history is that black problems, including anything others might see as problems with our culture, are traceable to evils that whites imposed on us in the past….

It never seems to work in terms of creating a meaningful consensus, and racism is not the sole reason for that. Social history — including for the descendants of African slaves — is complicated.

That objection notwithstanding, Coates may succeed in making acceptance of reparations — even if not actual implementation — a must-have position for Democrats. It’s a hit with the progressive wing.

And Hillary is hitting Sanders on the issue even though she has not committed to reparations yet:

For social justice-minded liberals of a certain age, it has always been an impossible dream that something as politically radioactive as slavery reparations would ever become an issue in a presidential campaign, but here we are. For good or for bad, insurgent Democratic primary candidate Bernie Sanders is feeling the heat over his offhand dismissal of reparations in a recent interview, and now, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton‘s campaign has surfaced the issue on national television as a means of attacking Sanders….

Not content to just let the flaming tire around Bernie’s neck burn, though, the Hillary Clinton campaign decided that they were the right messengers to press this attack, and not because he’s wrong about reparations, but because it demonstrates a political weakness.

And if Hillary fares poorly in early states, will she pander?

If the Democratic nominee embraces the justification for reparations, the Coates’ Case for Reparations will do severe damage to Democratic electoral chances.

One word to Coates on this accomplishment: Thanks.


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Anyone who grows up believing he’s owed will never get off his ass and go to work. This reparations talk is merely another Marxist / Alinskyite means of destroying society.

P.S. I want reparations for all I’ve paid into the War on Poverty.

    LukeHandCool in reply to JerryB. | January 24, 2016 at 12:06 am


    Instead of griping like a cranky old white Republican, maybe you should consider the hottest new career of the future: Racial Grievance Accounting and Bookkeeping.

    Sign up now for my online degree program at the special preferred rate of just $9,999 and for free … that’s right … for free! … I’ll throw in our newest and most popular minor degree specialty:

    Micro-reparations for micro-aggressions.

    You can then qualify to take our test to become a Certified Micro-Aggressions and Micro-Reparations Public Accountant.

    The U.S. Government predicts a shortfall of nearly 1 million desperately needed Racial Grievance Accountants and Bookkeepers over the next decade.

    Write your own ticket! The world can be yours! Earn a high-paying job with government job security! Do you want a career that helps people? Well, help people and right the wrongs of thousands of years past as you detangle and balance out who owes whom how much right now.

    The first 100 callers will get a free copy of our new spreadsheet software program, Exhell 2016!

    Act Now! This is a limited time offer! You’d be crazy to pass this up! Either that or a racist!

      But, but, I am a cranky old white (former) Republican. I do want to help people. Oh so much. Unfortunately, myself first.

      Micro-reparations for micro-aggressions.

      I’m doing fine making fiberglass hairballs for porcelain cats, thanks.

      IrateNate in reply to LukeHandCool. | January 24, 2016 at 10:27 am

      Sounds great, but I’m curious – how can I get my student loan dismissed upon graduation?

      stevewhitemd in reply to LukeHandCool. | January 24, 2016 at 2:22 pm

      This deserves plus-50 and a separate post by the good Prof. Jacobson…

      LHC — the potential is unlimited. Here’s what we need to do. This is top secret, so don’t tell anyone.

      Micro-aggression credits.

      It will be the next currency after carbon credits. I’ll print up five million, and we’ll start sales at $1 each.

      LukeHandCool in reply to LukeHandCool. | January 25, 2016 at 12:13 am

      You guys are the best Racial Grievance Accounting students in the whole world.

      No typical white-supremacist, imperialistic traditional accounting program at any university anywhere can match your school spirit.

      We’re number one! Listen team. I say it’s time to take on these other accounting programs of white privilege and audit the f*ck out of all their ancestors!!

JimMtnViewCaUSA | January 23, 2016 at 10:01 pm

My relative fought in the Union army. Can I, and other relatives of the hundreds of thousands of whites who fought and suffered and died, get reparations from descendants of black slaves? With few exceptions those slaves didn’t free themselves, you know.

    Black Americans owe Americans of European descent reparations for the Civil War and other reasons, including:

    – European slave traders rescued slaves when they bought them from their African slaveholders. Many would have been sold to Muslim slave traders, who castrated the males (a process that killed many, or cannibalized by their African owners.

    – We have been subsidizing Black lifestyles, many of which are dysfunctional and dysgenic, heavily since the 1960s. It’s time to get repaid on that debt, with interest.

    – We have suffered massive predation from Black criminals, and for this we need to be compensated.

    – We have poured untold funds into educating Blacks with little return, largely due to intellectual incapacity and cultural indifference. This debt needs to be paid.

    Perhaps a parasite tax on all who refuse to or cannot assimilate into the Anglo-American Enlightenment.

They’ve been getting reparations for years from the welfare system.

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to daitken. | January 24, 2016 at 3:42 am

    Welfare, affirmative action, set-asides, college admissions they would not get if of another race…

    Observer in reply to daitken. | January 24, 2016 at 6:45 am

    And also the billions of tax dollars that were paid out to phony “black farmers” in the Pigford scam; that was yet another thinly-disguised reparations scheme.

I wouldn’t dismiss this. It reminds me of the other Leftist wet-dreams (gay marriage, single-payer healthcare, gun confiscation) that, given time and enough Let’s-all-just-move-the-Overton-Window-a-bit game, they’ll have indoctrinated enough people to fall for it.

We don’t pass on indebtedness from one generation to the next. Therefore there can’t be any case made for reparations, even when it’s between the descendants of white slaveowners and the descendants of black slaves.

The 1850 Census showed 1,500 BLACK slave-owners in South Carolina. Most were former slaves that had bought their freedom. One was a slave breeder that sold several of his own children.
Do their descendants pay or get paid?

Agree with fmc–dismiss reparations at your peril. Most visionary schemes, be it ISIS or reparations are birthed as multi-generational projects. After all, John Conyers (D-MI) has been introducing reparations bills for decades. If you kick over the rock of the “white privilege” construct, you’ll see that it’s a reparations friendly idea. It serves to implicate all whites of whatever origin or dates of arrival in slave guilt. Of course, Leftist narcissism doesn’t account for Hispanics or Asians but give them time: it’s just a question of inventing “leaders” for those groups (much as the American left has anointed CAIR as the leader of American Muslims) and then co-opting that leadership to sign on.

Leftists don’t do details, Professor. Strictly big picture for the dupes. It’s how they roll.

Actually, I’m fine with the idea that if a group’s ancestors oppressed your ancestors, irrespective of whether anyone now living had anything to do with it, you’re entitled to reparations from that group’s now living members. I think this is an excellent idea.

It happens I am a certified member of the world’s all-time grand champion hall of fame minority group. Christians…most blacks are Christians…spent a couple of millennia persecuting and killing my people. So let’s establish priorities. Pay us off first, then we can talk about newer claims.

Besides, we’ve had reparations. Fifty years of affmirmative action–college scholarships and campus “diversity” offices, favorable small business loans, all sorts of programs aimed specifically at blacks…why isn’t this counted?

By the way, regarding paying off Jews first–any of you who are Christians, if you send me money I will by return mail send you an official Certificate of Expiation, signed by an authentic Jew, attesting that you have personally paid restitution for generations of Christian oppression of Jews.

The usual price is $1,000, but for you–$995.

This is Bernie’s chance to come up with something clever. Maybe change the name of Welfare to Reparations. Then he can claim that a large population of black Americans are already paid Reparations, and even better, will continue to be paid Reparations in perpetuity.

That way he can feel like a good modern Leftie by surrendering to the black race-hustlers, but he won’t hurt his socialist dreams by sucking even more money from the American taxpayer who he’s already promised to bleed dry in the name of the Socialist Revolution. Win-win!

Can’t make the argument? Come on:
Because . . . black . . . .

Can we link reparations with mandatory irreversible emigration? How does one calculate reparations when part of the problem has been and continues to be self-inflicted? I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if George Washington Carver had “won” in the battle to advance Black empowerment versus W.E.B. DU Bois and the NAACP? But then, what could have been if Woodrow Wilson hadn’t been president?

Reparations wouldn’t soothe white guilt, calm black grievances, or halt racial strife. It would just start another cycle of racial injustice and insure that racial strife will never end. If some white liberal feels guilty, let him set up a reparation fund and donate his own money. I’ve done nothing to feel guilty about, and I’ve already had plenty taken from me to pay to fix problems that were never fixed.

    healthguyfsu in reply to Socratease. | January 24, 2016 at 9:24 am

    This is what always ticks me off about the liberals. They never want to just donate their moneyy out of benevolence and lead by any of their misguided examples. They want the government to come in and take from everyone involuntarily.

Bernie’s answer deserves a little critique here. It starts:

“No, I don’t think so. First of all, its likelihood of getting through Congress is nil…”

No, Bernie. First of all, there is no way of defining exactly who should receive said reparations, secondly there is no way of defining exactly who should pay said reparations, and thirdly, there is no basis for exacting reparations at all. So you can’t define who’s going to get them, pay them or why. The argument stops right there.

    None of those things is a problem given the way our government currently works. They’ll just insert language into the bill like, “The secretary shall determine eligibility requirements …”

    Look at that. Problem solved!

My ancestors were Republicans and fought in the civil war. My stepson is black. Does that mean I should pay out to someone else and then someone else should pay him, when I have been paying to raise him for 14 years.
This common core math is so confusing.

I wouldn’t be so quick to discount all this.

How many things the Liberals have pushed for so many years are now the law of the land and to it’s detriment?

I’d be very careful of thinking this won’t go anywhere. Cause they keep pushing it and pushing it until one day they make it happen. And partly because conservatives are not aggressive nor do they take the threat of it happening seriously enough.

And they’ve been wrong before so many times.

Time for some actual proactive counter attacks.

Unless, of course, you believe that reparations should happen.

Reparations? I got your reparations right here.

Nothing will turn out voters like the promise of free stuff. If Hillary is under a legal cloud I would expect her to give away the store, the house, the bank to get elected. Pandering to greed and envy is not just a Republican thing.

We have all that Western land. I say give the all 40 acres and a mule and be done with the issue. In 40 years white males will own the land. Problem solved to the satisfaction of all.

Yet, then we’ll have the Chinese and the “Gentleman’s Agreement” to deal with. At least the Negro community will gladly contribute, they will, want they?

I keep hearing about the “40 acres and a mule” promise, so we should embrace this reparations thing as the perfect opportunity to put a bunch of federal land in private hands.

(We’ll just have to welsh on the mule part, of course.)

    4fun in reply to kaf. | January 24, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    Not really kaf. We could just substitute wild horse when we run out of free range mules. Of course they’d have to capture their own after they run out of the ones already caught.
    Fed gov has adopt a horse program that includes mules.

    20 M ST, SE, SUITE 950 WASHINGTON DC 20003-3503
    Phone: 800-370-3936 FAX: 202-245-0027 [email protected]

Wow, wukong. Great minds and all that.

Henry Hawkins | January 24, 2016 at 1:35 pm

I spoke about this in the comments the other day. Seems like I ought to get a free doughnut or two out of it.

I would be in favor of reparations levied on the dem party for 100 years of Jim Crow legislation and 50 years of a welfare system both designed to profit the dems at the voting booth.

700,000 white boy’s lives not enough?

Despite the fact that all of my ancestors arrived in America forty years after Appomattox, I am willing to pay reparations. I hereby offer to buy ten ancestors of slaves one-way plane tickets (business class) from NYC to [insert name of Mother Country /African Hell-hole].

I’d like to see reparations for every Union soldier wounded or killed in service to our country during the Civil War.
Also every northern civilian who lost property or money during the war should also receive reparations.

Hasn’t Zimbabwe kicked white farmers off their land and given it to black farmers? How’s that working out? All the reparations in the universe won’t make people successful or happy. GIVING people stuff just makes them more bitter, more miserable, and more likely to steal. 5 decades of reparations here in America also proves it.