AT: Reparations would repair nothing

The AT piece is of no great moment except that reparations talk is in the news the last couple of days, because several Democrat candidates for president have been naval-gazing about it.

19 thoughts on “AT: Reparations would repair nothing

  1. My views on the subject are pretty straightforward. I believe there is no living person in the U.S. today who can demonstrate a personal loss or injury that is the result of historical slavery in America. There is simply no basis for any claim to reparations.

    I don’t dispute that blacks in our country endure racism and prejudice, only that these immoralities are traceable to some theoretical “legacy of slavery.”

    Writing at The Wall Street Journal today, Jason Riley summarizes a relevant portion of the factual history of blacks in America: “Barry Latzer, a criminologist at John Jay College, reports that black male homicides fell by nearly 18% in the 1940s and by another 21% in the 1950s, while rates remained relatively flat among their white counterparts over the same period. Similarly, Harvard sociologist William Julius Wilson has written that ‘in ghetto neighborhoods throughout the first half of the twentieth century, rates of inner-city joblessness, teenage pregnancy, out-of-wedlock births, female-headed families, welfare dependency and serious crime were significantly lower than in later years and did not reach catastrophic proportions until the mid-1970s.'”

    Riley asks, “Did the ‘legacy of slavery’ and Jim Crow skip over a couple of generations and then reassert itself in the mid-1970s? Or is it possible that something else is primarily responsible for the outcomes we see today?”

    That the myth of slavery’s legacy persists is a triumph of theory over reality. That candidates for president are exploiting it is a sure sign of their unfitness for office.


  2. Slavery’s legacy is NOT a myth. It is reality. If we ever get to the state where every newborn child has true equality of opportunity, then you can start patting yourself on the back. We WERE getting there, but then the GOP came to power.


    1. RE: “Slavery’s legacy is NOT a myth. It is reality.”

      I see your denial, but no reason to believe it. How do you account for the legacy of slavery skipping over a couple of generations, as Jason Riley points out, for example?

      What evidence do you have, other than theoretical speculation, that every newborn child doesn’t have true equality of opportunity?


      1. Slavery generated enormous economic and cultural disadvantages for former slaves and their descendants. Almost none of the wealth their labor created fell to them when slavery ended. Those disadvantages were continued by the Petty Apartheid, red lining, poor schools and discrimination that black citizens have had to endure down to the present day. If you deny this fact – which you seem to be doing – you are simply wrong.

        When I was a child in South Carolina I went to a nice school with good facilities, good books, and good teachers. Black children my age were schooled in a tobacco warehouse but only when it was not needed for tobacco. That is just ONE example of how people living today provide irrefutable evidence for the lack of equal opportunity that is still a burden on black lives.


        1. How self-centered of you to measure the black experience in America against your own childhood of white priviledge!

          You might consider spending some time reading the Slave Narrative collection at the Library of Congress web site. You might learn to appreciate that getting a job, buying a house and sending one’s children to school were all quite common in black communities in the period immediately following emancipation.


          1. “…getting a job, buying a house and sending one’s children to school were all quite common in black communities in the period immediately following emancipation.”

            Until the white Southerners had enough of that crap. Right after the end of Reconstruction, life took an ugly turn for the blacks.

            There were entire thriving black communities in Oklahoma, Florida and other places that were totally destroyed by white mobs for perceived slights. Look them up if you are interested.

            The Great Migration did not take place because life was grand in the South.

            Apartheid for 350 years is pretty indicative of a nation being racist. It takes time, patience and effort to overcome that history.

            We are getting there. My guess is that once 1965 is a few more generations behind us, things will improve.


          2. RE: “It takes time, patience and effort to overcome that history.”

            Of course it does. It also takes knowing the history factually and learning how to avoid aggravating old wounds or creating new ones. It would never occur to me to tell a black child today that because his ancestors were slaves in America his prospects are limited. But that’s exactly what the myth of slavery’s legacy does.


          3. It is not “the myth of slavery’s legacy” that is the real issue. It is apartheid for 350 years. The damage done to our nation and it’s treatment of minorities after Emancipation that put a stamp of legal approval on racism. A century of laws and terrorism designed specifically to keep the descendants of slaves from the rights of full citizenship while demanding adherence to a code of forced subservience.

            That established a national culture that is only now starting to change. And not without pushback.

            Yes, there are uneven spurts. Yes, there are extremists on both sides of the racial divide. The growing impatience by minority activists can be both enlightening and infuriating. But human progress is never linear. There are self-defeating attitudes in black communities, such as “not acting white”. Obviously that is not productive. Yet how did that develop? It didn’t happen out of thin air. I think it was a byproduct of racial tensions over the centuries. Tensions that were passed from generation to generation with regards to attitudes about race, status and survival. And this was true for both whites and minorities.

            “Keep your eyes on the prize” I think best describes the virtue of keeping a goal of racial harmony despite setbacks.



          4. To show that historical slavery produced effects that linger in America today, one must be able to show a chain of causation that links attributes of slavery to specific contemporary conditions. You hint at this when you observe that slavery “established a national culture that is only now starting to change.” But even in your own telling it remains unclear which came first, slavery or racism, or which is causitive, the experience of slavery or the effects of racism.

            I challenge you to question your own assumptions.


        2. What a fool! It is almost beyond belief. Not only do you deny obvious truths about our society but you are incapable of accepting first hand evidence gracefully and instead twist the providing of it into an insult. A stupid insult but an insult none the less.

          Every day you come here apparently to demonstrate what kind of intellect one must have to still be a Trump enthusiast. Why do you do that?


          1. The fool is the one who believes things which are simply untrue. You make yourself the measure of black history by claiming that your black peers attended school in a worse building than you, but for all you know, or report, your counterparts earned a better education than you.


  3. Regarding reparations.

    There is no one alive today who owned a slave in the US, nor is there anyone alive who was a slave in the US. Thus, those who did wrong and those who were wronged are n not here to pay or collect.

    So, if there are any reparations to be made to anyone living today, they should be based on comparing the standard of living and degree of personal security and freedom of blacks living in the US today enjoy and and that of their distant relatives living in Africa.

    I do not think it is appropriate for us to ask black Americans to compensate white Americans for bringing their ancestors to America.


    1. Here is a fact to chew on.

      We practiced apartheid for 350 years. The laws of the land up until 1965 were designed to separate the races for not other reason than white supremacy. Economic, Biblical or cultural reasons were the norm and law with a good dose of terrorism was the enforcer.

      FYI, South Africa only had legal apartheid for a few decades.

      How long does it take to make a culture? For yogurt a few days.

      For a nation, anywhere from a few decades to a few centuries.

      How does 350 years sound? We ought to have ingrained white supremacy pretty well by then, don’t you think?

      And it has not stopped just because the laws were overturned in 1965, with much bloodshed I might add. Kicking and screaming is how many Americans came to grudgingly accept that Blacks should not be 2nd class citizens.

      And if anyone thinks 1965 solved the racial divide, we can just look at the issue today. We blanch at affirmative action. For Blacks. Whites, not so much until this scandal erupted

      I know you don’t agree, but the birther movement was all about race.

      And now we have a resurgence of scum from under the rocks knows as white supremacists. They even held shields with their symbols on them at Charlottesville. The killer was one of them.

      So what about the issue of reparations. I don’t agree with that, but mostly for monetary reasons as well as practicality.

      The descendants of slaves are not the only minority that were victimized by our racist culture. And the cost would be enormous.

      So, reparations aside, I think we still need to come to grips with our history as a racist nation. Denying that is denying reality.

      That does not mean you, me or Molly McGee are racist. That is not the point. As a nation, we have legislated a racial divide for centuries. And anyone who votes is responsible for the outcome. That is the contract we all have with the United States. You may not have voted for this or that, but because you voted and are willing to accept the results you, and I, are part of the process. Your representatives in government, whether you supported and voted for him or not, still wrote laws that made skin color a criteria for the benefits of citizenship.

      I can’t believe you reverting to the “blacks should be grateful they are not in Africa”. That is the crap we see on line from the bitter ones who are sure the modern Black citizen is just getting too uppity and should be more appreciative.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “I can’t believe you reverting to the “blacks should be grateful they are not in Africa”

    Are you claiming that blacks born in America are not better off, on average, than those born in Africa?

    Whatever wrongs were done to slaves 160 years ago, they are gone, as are those who wronged them. And yes, wrongs continued after slavery ended, but progressively less so as time passed.

    But the issue is reparations for slavery and that is not possible, and the descendants of those slaves have the benefit of being Americans, not Africans.

    Can you honestly claim that black Americans who are alive today are not better off than had slavery never happened?


    1. Better off? That is pure speculation.

      What created much of the corruption in many African nations was brutal colonialism followed by sudden, often bloody, independence. Borders were established that had no bearing on previous tribal affiliations. Sort of like the problems of the breakup of the Ottoman Empire. Or the end of communism in Yugoslavia.

      The US was unique. The colonial masters stayed after the revolution. Not much competition from the indigenous peoples. In Africa, they left in a hurry or ceded all power to people who were not well versed in management or Western style economic and politics. And in many cases centuries of near slave-like subservience to European powers.

      So who knows what Africa may have evolved to on its own, with natural tribal borders, eventual mutual trade with Europe and Asia as equals.

      Remember that Western civilization did not appear magically or peacefully. From the Middle Ages on, war was the natural state of things. Peasants had it pretty rough. Corruption, pogroms, palace intrigues, etc., were not that much different than tribal conflict elsewhere except for the more efficient machinery of battle.

      I wonder what we would have been like without slavery. I think the South would have been a sleepy backwater and the economic growth of the US would have been delayed a century or so.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lenm,

        Contrary to the opening scenes from ROOTS, slave traders did not get their victims by swooping down on horseback and throwing nets over them.

        They bought them at seaports established for that purpose from Arab slave traders, who in turn, bought them from dominant African tribes who captured them.

        Colonial migrations to Africa came later, and the British ended the slave trade.


    2. Hmmm. Oppression is Okay if there are people worse off somewhere else? So, lets tax your income at 70% to improve the lot of all poor people regardless of race. You should be grateful since that would still leave you better off than white people in, say, Russia. Right?


      1. You are skilled at fighting straw men, but I did not say oppression was OK.

        I did not say Jim Crow was OK, or segregation.

        All I said was that blacks in America are better off than those in Africa, hence they benefited from slavery however much their ancestors did not.

        You might make a case that blacks have suffered lasting harm from the aftermath of slavery, but not from having their ancestors brought here.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s