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It must be noted that the issue of slavery reparations is complicated by the fact that a group of African nations is now demanding 777 trillion dollars in compensation from the white nations that participated in the slave trade. Never mind that those same African nations helped slavery thrive by selling their conquered enemies to white traders who then brought their "purchases" to the New World as slaves. The issue is also further complicated by right-wing groups and their demands for reparations for reverse discrimination.
There are a number of reasons why no one should take this demand seriously.
First and most important, the debt, whatever it may have been, has already been repaid. Abraham Lincoln made this clear in his Second Inaugural. There he argued that it would be just if the Civil War consumed all the wealth piled up by the slaves and if every drop of slave blood drawn by the slaveholder’s whip was paid for by a drop drawn by a sword. It took the South decades, perhaps almost a century, to recover the wealth lost in the war. The lives lost on both sides of course were never recovered. It was the sacrifices of those who fought and died in the war, Lincoln announced at Gettysburg, that would make possible a new birth of freedom in the United States. Every American, regardless of color, has benefited from that sacrifice.
If Lincoln’s principled moral accounting does not suffice, we might offer a more political argument against reparations. When those arguing for these payments ask the descendants of the Africans who enslaved their fellow Africans and then sold them to European slave traders to make them, then Americans might consider listening to arguments about reaparations. And if the descendants of Africans still in Africa involved in the slave trade paid reparations, then the U.S. government might consider doing the same.
But in fact, we are already paying reparations in a way. Affirmative action programs have been in place for over 30 years. They are very expensive. Federal, state and local governments spend money administering and enforcing them. Businesses spend more to make sure they are following the rules and defending themselves from administrative and legal action when someone thinks they are not. We also pay costs from increased incompetence and lower morale in the workplace.
Estimates of these costs vary. Some reach as high as hundreds of billions of dollars. But even if we accept lower estimates and remember that women and other minorities benefit from affirnative action policies, it it still clear that payments of tens of billions of dollars annually have been made to black Americans for decades. The fact that these payments do not seem to be doing much, if any, good, does not alter the fact that they are being made.
Finally, when considering the question of reparations we should return to a point suggested by Lincoln. All blacks descended from slaves are more than compensated for the damage of slavery by the good fortune of living in the United States. Every black in the United States is much better off economically, legally, politically, and morally than any black living in Africa. This is a debt of course that all Americans, not just blacks, owe and it can only be repaid by being a good citizen.
NPR's Juan Williams:
Reparations today are more like the government's offer of reservations to Native Americans. They are an invitation to increase racial segregation and isolation of low-income black people. They would tell Americans of every other race that blacks, especially poor blacks, are a broken people who must be treated as wards of the state. Black people would be more highly stigmatized and negatively stereotyped than ever before. Social ills in the black community would be exaggerated as black people, flush with government checks, removed themselves from the vitality of mainstream American economic and cultural life. And it would be a cheap, easy out for the government. A onetime payment is sure to be cheaper than annual funding for social programs to deal with the ongoing horrors of bad schools for black kids, the high rate of unmarried black mothers and jails overflowing with young black people, especially young black men.
The Baltimore Sun's Gregory Kane:
Asians and East Indians face white supremacy and white and black racism. But they don't use racism as an excuse for academic failure. East Indians have bought most of the cab companies in New York and small motels and hotels--not to mention gas stations--across the country. They did it with organization and planning. They certainly didn't do it with reparations checks. Blacks could have done it, if for years we hadn't been following leaders whose motto should be "Ain't Too Proud to Beg."
The president of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade, a descendant of generations of slave-owning African kings:
If one can claim reparations for slavery, the slaves of my ancestors, or their descendants, can also claim money from me. . . . It's not the Europeans of today or the Americans of today who brought slavery. It's the ancestors. Me, personally, how can I be responsible for what my ancestors did, in the 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th centuries?
Not noted by Overlawyered but also interesting was a signed piece by New York Times editorialist Brent Staples (link requires registration):
Black Americans made spectacular progress beginning in the decades after slavery, moving from cotton fields to the boardroom in just over a century. But the recent debate about reparations for slavery has introduced a different narrative in which black people are cast as a victim class seeking compensation for the suffering of ancestors. . . . By blaming history alone for modern-day social ills like poverty, illiteracy and unemployment, reparations advocates are unwittingly saying that these problems are so deeply rooted as to be unsolvable. They are also subverting the true story of black people in the United States. This story is one of extraordinary achievement in the face of gargantuan obstacles.
How sad. The reparations movement unmasks today's "black leadership" as negative, pessimistic, and operating on an assumption of the powerlessness of blacks to improve their own lives. Contrast the astonishing negativism of today's "black leadership" with the hope and promise of Booker T. Washington, who, only 35 years after the end of the civil war, argued the simple case of hard work. He said, when a black learns a skill or an occupation " ... as well or better than some one else, they will be rewarded regardless of race or colour (sic). In the long run, the world is going to have the best, and any difference in race, religion, or previous history will not long keep the world from what it wants."
Under this welfare state, black unwed pregnancies skyrocketed, so that today 70 percent of black children are born to fatherless households. Yet the focus of today's black leadership remains on the battle against racism, whether "overt," "covert," "conscious," "unconscious," "institutional," "environmental" or "systemic." But the enemy long ago began retreating. As John O'Sullivan of the National Review puts it, "White racism exists. But its social power is weak, the social power against it overwhelming."
So now the "black leadership" wastes time and energy on a morally, legally and philosophically bankrupt notion of reparations. Today's "black leadership" requires courage. It takes courage to tell the "helpless" they possess the power to help themselves. This means supporting principles of appropriate personal behavior; the avoidance of reckless, unprotected sex; that a day without two hard hours of homework is wasted.
The movement asks us to ignore, dismiss or minimize a few facts:
* The black American gross domestic product would make it one of the world's 15 wealthiest countries.
* The black American poverty rate, at 22 percent, is at an all-time low. A few years ago, a Fortune poll found that corporate blacks felt optimistic at the prospects for corporate upward mobility.
* A recent issue of Forbes looked at the top 100 celebrities, as defined by income, number of magazine cover stories, number of articles about, and number of Internet Web site hits. Of the 100, blacks (including Tiger Woods) made the list 26 times.
* A recent Harris Poll asked Americans to name their top hero or heroine. Jesus Christ topped the list, followed by Martin Luther King Jr. and Colin Powell. Michael Jordan also made the top 10 – and 10 of the top 30 are black (if you count Tiger Woods).
* Newsweek recently ran a cover story on Stanley O'Neal of Merrill Lynch; Ken Chenault of American Express; and Robert D. Parsons of AOL Time Warner – all black CEOs.
Originally posted by semperfortis
Just so we all know who we are dealing with in reference to this Lawsuit...
quote: original quote by ceci:
No, I do not. But Blacks are at the center of this lawsuit. That means that they are the focus of this particular case in terms of their treatment in slavery. And because of that reason, no one seems to have any pity for them.
no one seems to have any pity for them.
Originally posted by ceci2006
And even though the Union army practiced conscription, I would be hard pressed to say that some of these "past relatives" had a choice in the matter whether they were going to serve or not. So, there's no law suit here.
Originally posted by ceci2006
If you read some of the comments, there are posters who do not have pity for Blacks. They have no qualms in saying so.
posted by FlyersFan
If Ceci is going to demand money from people NOW because of what happened way back THEN . . I think it's as stupid as demanding reparations from people now for slavery from 150 years ago. That's the point I was making. If people are going shake me down and take my money which doesn't belong to them, then I have an equal right to shake them down and get my money back. [Edited by Don W]
Originally posted by donwhite
I do not believe the advocates of reparations really expect Congress is going to vote $100 billion to be divided amongst the 40 million African Americans. I think they are using the issue as shorthand for getting our attention.
posted by FlyersFan
So you thinks it's kind of a bait and switch scam? Get our attention and get us all worked up thinking they are going to demand hundreds of billions . . and then in the end they will say that they are happy if tens of billions gets spent on black-specific social programs? Do you think it's a bait and switch scam? [Edited by Don W]
It is hard for me to believe any educated person in America thinks a Republican Congress would vote 50 cents for African Americans.
posted by semperfortis
It is a historical fact that almost every Civil Rights Amendment, Legislation, Bill and Proposal has been submitted and pushed by the Republican Party.
Semper [Edited by Don W
In the 26 major civil rights votes after 1933, a majority of Democrats opposed civil rights legislation in over 80 percent of the votes. By contrast, the Republican majority favored civil rights in over 96 percent of the votes.
[See www.congresslink.org... and www.yale.edu...]
As a matter of record, when Kennedy was a senator from Massachusetts, he had an opportunity to vote on the 1957 Civil Rights Act pushed by Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson. Instead, he voted to send it to the conservative Senate Judiciary Committee, where it would have been pigeonholed.
His record in the 1950s did not mark Kennedy as a civil rights activist. Yet the 1957Act to benefit African-Americans was passed with the help of Republicans. It was a watered- down version of the later 1964 bill, which Kennedy backed.
Republicans favored the bill 138 to 34; Democrats supported it 152-96. Republicans supported it in higher proportions than Democrats. Even though those Democrats were Southern segregationists, without Republicans the bill would have failed. Republicans were the other much-needed leg of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
On June 17, the Senate voted by a 76 to 18 margin to adopt the bipartisan substitute worked out by Dirksen in his office in May and to give the bill its third reading. Two days later, the Senate passed the bill by a 73 to 27 roll call vote. Six Republicans and 21 Democrats held firm and voted against passage.
Every single African-American in Congress until 1935 was a Republican. Among the Republican pioneers were South Carolina’s Joseph Rainey, the first black member of the House of Representatives, in 1870. Republican Hiram Revels of Mississippi became the first black U. S. Senator the same year. Two years later, Pinckney Pinchback of Louisiana became the nation’s first blac Governor.
Three years after Brown, President Eisenhower won passage of his landmark Civil Rights Act of 1957. Republican Senator Everett Dirksen authored and introduced the 1960 Civil Rights Act, and saw it through to passage. Republicans supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act overwhelmingly, and by much higher percentages in both House and Senate than the Democrats. Indeed, the 1964 Civil Rights Act became law only after overcoming a Democrat filibuster.
posted by semperfortis
Heeerrreeee you go...
In the 26 major civil rights votes after 1933, a majority of Democrats opposed civil rights legislation in over 80 percent of the votes. By contrast, the Republican majority favored civil rights in over 96 percent of the votes. Semper [Edited by Don W]
You’re Self Deluding, Semper Fi, Or Disingenuous