Progressives have long called for reparations—payments to blacks for the horrors of slavery. These were routinely dismissed because they’re absurd – those who suffered the injustice of slavery and those who perpetrated it are long dead, and most Americans of every national origin had nothing to do with it.
But the push for reparations truly never was about slavery, it’s about redistribution of wealth and perpetrating the victimhood mentality that keeps people voting for progressives. To think they’d ever stop would be like thinking a heroin addict wouldn’t steal your iPhone if you let them crash on your couch – it’s just not going to happen.
Enter The Atlantic. Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates has brought the issue back to the forefront of progressives’ minds and set a debate raging on MSNBC. Well, as much of a “debate” that can happen when both participants agree on every point.
Coates’ article, “The Case for Reparations: Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole,” lays out a series of damning government policies and actions that directly harmed, if not targeted, black Americans and held them back economically.
The specific claims of Coates have been refuted by people much smarter than I, and I suggest you read the original article and the rebuttals to form your own conclusion. But if progressives are interested in reparations for past wrongs, they should target those who perpetrated them – the Democratic Party.
The Democratic Party was the party of slavery. It gained power from it, profited from it, and fought to keep it.
Jim Crow was the spawn of racist Democrats who, angry they could no longer own slaves, set about creating a series of laws, both on the books and off, to deny blacks the dignity they deserved and their rights as full citizens.
It was Democrats who pioneered “separate but equal,” standing in schoolhouse doors to keep out children who only wanted to learn without having to travel miles to an inferior “black school.”
It was Democrats who, through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, instituted mortgage policies that led directly to the housing market crash and record foreclosures in black communities.
It was Democrats who, through a continual string of lies, promised to right the wrongs their policies caused, only to make them worse. Their legislative and regulatory actions created a permanence to government dependence, trapping generations in poverty and a feeling of hopelessness.
Detroit, Baltimore, Chicago, and every major city with a large black population is in or on the verge of financial and social bankruptcy. Vacant lots, abandoned houses, rampant drug dealing and use, gang violence, massive job losses, astronomical crime rates, failed social and governmental services—all are staples of these cities, as is generations of Democratic political leadership. They aren’t mutually exclusive.
There’s a lot of power in telling people they’re powerless, but that you’ll help them. If you convince people they can’t get ahead, that the system, as progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., put it in her 2012 convention speech, “is rigged” against them, many will believe you. If you convince people they are victims of discrimination, be it from skin color or the economics in which they were born, then normal failures in life – such as not getting a job you want – are not chalked up to someone being a better fit or you simply not being the best candidate, but to that “rigged” system. That deflates the human spirit, kills aspiration, and perpetuates the cycle.
There is no power in empowering others. But there is a lot in the opposite. And it is the opposite in which the Democratic Party, led by progressives, lives, and has always lived. They couch their actions in the vernacular of liberty – freeing people from “job lock,” for example – but the results are always the same. Government can’t grant you liberty; you’re born with it, government can only infringe upon it. People who take the bait don’t realize they’ve swallowed the hook too.
Reparations are in order, but they should not be sought from the government—it was only the conduit through which oppression was carried out. They should be sought from the source of that oppression, its originators and perpetrators to this day—the Democratic Party.