There’s a lot of talk lately about Reparations, as in reparations for black people to make up for the injustices of slavery, Jim Crow and segregation. I need to go on record about this before the debate reaches this forum.
In spite of my Liberal/Progressive politics, I’m against it, and for the same reason I am opposed to Affirmative Action. No one is denying the crimes that have been inflicted on black folks by white folks in this country for the last 400 years, but no one here today was born a slave, and no one alive today ever owned any. I concede that the evils of slavery persisted long after the institution itself was abolished, and that those descended from slaves have had additional obstacles (often severe ones!) to surmount than those who weren’t, but that is all in the past. To have a crime, you not only need a victim, you also need a perpetrator, and they both need to be alive now. And the perp must be a willing one, not just somebody who happened to benefit accidentally from the crime. If you had no part in it, you can’t be held responsible for it just because you may have unwittingly profited by it. No one today blames bastards for having been born illegitimate. People shouldn’t be blamed for something they had nothing to do with any more than they should be rewarded for the achievements and successes of their ancestors.
Besides, what about all those people who died fighting for the Union? Should their descendants get a refund on their reparations taxes? And what about those who came to this country AFTER the slaves were freed? They had nothing to do with slavery, and they often suffered grievous persecution themselves. My people immigrated to the US over a century ago, long after the Emancipation Proclamation. Maybe they played a role in the enslavement of Africans in Cuba, not to mention the genocide of the indigenous Cuban aborigines, but that’s between me and them. Your black and red men can make no claims on me. My people weren’t here, and we had no choice but to play the game by the rules in place when we got here.
My Cuban immigrant example may be partly facetious, but it only underscores the contradictions and absurdities you blunder into when you insist on the literal redress of ancient injustice. Just because it may be the right thing to do doesn’t mean it makes sense, or that it is practical or even possible. Besides, it is inevitable that some of those who would be forced to pay the bills for these reparations would only see it as a further excuse to be racist and bigoted. That’s how fascists think, after all. In their twisted and paranoid universe, they are always innocent but everyone else is out to get them. They’re always looking for excuses to hate someone.
Having said that, I do agree that many communities, particularly the native Americans, the blacks and those of Mexican extraction, have been dealt a bad hand by America , that the effects still linger today, and some form of reparation would be fair. But I suggest it not be tied to race or ethnicity. It should be linked to the economic hardship experienced by a community or an individual, and it should be available to all Americans, even the white ones. Devastated and crippled communities, states, towns, neighborhoods, Indian reservations, persons and families should be eligible for financial “reparations” perhaps disguised as tax breaks or subsidized public works. Liberals would not mind contributing their tax dollars to these worthy projects. This might even be somewhat more acceptable to Republicans. After all, most poor people, even the homeless, are white, and these days, most are Republican. It would be unfair to punish them for voting against their own interests.
America is now in the grip of a slow-motion fascist coup d’etat. Progressives have better things to do than waste their energies on feel-good “special programs” to benefit worthy minorities like blacks, women, gays, and so on when their political opponents are waging all-out war on everyone who is not a mayo-on-white-bread “gentleman of property”. Let’s get real, lefties, these guys are offering no quarter and no mercy. Neither should we.