If you haven't already read Ta-Nehisi Coates' June Atlantic article, "The Case for Reparations," don't bother. There is nothing new in it that didn't already spew from leftist academia over the last 50 years.
Even the narrative core of the piece, the story of the Contract Buyers League of Lawndale, was previously reported by The Atlantic (and in a much more balanced and in depth fashion) back in 1972.
Coates does have a gift for dramatic flair however, and here is a sampling:
"America begins in black plunder and white democracy, two features that are not contradictory but complementary."
"America was built on the preferential treatment of white people, 395 years of it."
"To ignore the fact that one of the oldest republics in the world was erected on a foundation of white supremacy, to pretend that the problems of a dual society are the same as the problems of unregulated capitalism, is to cover the sin of national plunder with the sin of national lying."
"When we think of white supremacy, we picture Colored Only signs, but we should picture pirate flags."
"Black nationalists have always perceived something unmentionable about America that integrationists dare not acknowledge—that white supremacy is not merely the work of hotheaded demagogues, or a matter of false consciousness, but a force so fundamental to America that it is difficult to imagine the country without it."
And just in case it is not entirely clear just how evil America, and all the white people in it, really are, The Atlantic even has a helpful sidebar titled, "The Auschwitz All Around Us," which then quotes Coates, "It’s very hard to accept white supremacy as a structure erected by actual people, as a choice, as an interest, as opposed to a momentary bout of insanity."
Why has this reparations article been such a hit on the left? Why do white liberals love being compared to Nazi's?
The reason I bring up Zinn is not because Zinn is actually an original thinker. He’s not. But in the 1960s there were several separate critiques of America that developed, many of them coming out of different interest groups and minority groups.
So you had American Indian activists talking about how America stole their land. There were civil rights activists talking about reparations for slavery and segregation. Independently there were left wing activists talking about economic redistribution.
What Zinn did is he took all these different strands and he pulled them together into a single narrative which could be called, “America the indefensible.” According to Zinn, if you look at American history its and uninterrupted series of crimes visited upon various minorities or defenseless people. For Zinn, this is what American history is all about.
Zinn is a master at the politics of shame. He is trying to create shame in people, especially in young people. He wants them not to be proud of America, but to be disgusted with America, and to be ashamed of America.
What the politics of shame is trying to accomplish is to make people feel bad about America so they will agree more readily to the Obama proposition that the wealth of America is ill gotten gain.
Because if someone is coming to you and trying to take your money, you would try and stop them. But what if they could convince you that your money, not just your income but your wealth, your house, your TV, your car, are actually stolen goods? What if he could convince you that the art treasures in your home were actually stolen by the Nazis?
You might say, “Well I didn’t do anything.” And they will respond, “No, you didn’t. But never the less your ancestors were Nazis. They stole these treasures. They don’t belong to you. So they have to be given back.”
So there is a major project underway of government redistribution, of government confiscation, of government trying to take not just our income but our wealth. And redistribute it not just in America, but globally.
Now in order to do that you need an army of collectors. But you also need to make the people you are trying to shake down, you have to make them feel ashamed and defenseless so they more readily give up what they have.
The politics of shame is not innocent. It is not just aimed at teaching our history. In fact it is a cherry picked and bogus view of American history. It picks out selective facts to make its thesis and it leaves a whole bunch of stuff out.
And its political goal is shakedown. It is to create in people a sense of guilt and shame that will make them more willing to part with their stuff when the government comes to get it.
D'Souza has his faults, but he is dead right on Zinn, Coates, liberals, and the politics of shame: the goal is shakedown. Always has been. Always will be.