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May 22, 2014

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I'm always rather curious at extremely emphatic calls for reparations for the assorted depravities that the United States and its populace inflicted on its African-American population, which go on at great length about how acknowledging and addressing them is fundamental and necessary to address racial disparity and our national history... yet never call for even considering the question of reparations for the assorted depravities inflicted upon Native Americans. I'm aware that this is a certain awful sort of whataboutery on my part, but it really does strike me as odd to see claims that this one acknowledgement and recompense of past evil is of dire and fundemental importance, but the other is not even worthy of mention.

More on topic, I agree that reparations would be extremely divisive. Given the difficulty in establishing just levels, eligibility, etc. (i.e., the practical matters you allude to, which would be be no mean feat), there would inevitably be widespread disgruntlement, and this would be a ready dogwhistle to call back on pretty much forever. Given that, the theoretical cure might make things worse, not better. Depending on their scope and nature, it's impossible to ignore the possibility that reparations could (but not perforce would) significantly change racial poverty rates, so it's not reasonable to discount them strictly on the basis of nebulous concern that they'd generate resentment, not least because it's placing a higher value on the resentment of the rest of the populace over the resentment that the portion currently enduring poverty entrenched by collective sins committed generations ago. But even so, I'm leery of the notion because of how heavily it simplifies notions of group identity (particularly over time) and collective responsibility. I'm not sure I couldn't be persuaded - that something leaves a bad taste in my mouth is not just cause to oppose it if it would truly do good - but I can't say I advocate reparations.

I'm not sure how reparations would work. I've read the beginning of the TNC article (and agree that, especially regarding the issue of race, his work is a must-read). Perhaps he suggests something later in the article (which I will continue to read). Obviously, people were hugely wronged. As Nombrilisme Vide noted, so were Native Americans. Perhaps, in a perfect world, reparations are due to both. Not sure how to figure that out though. And lesser (but important) reparations for those who were cheated because they immigrated at a time when discrimination against their X ethnic group was rampant, etc.

Looking forward, not backward, has some practical appeal, even if it seems cynical.

Will read more.

Thanks, russell.

I suspect TNC would agree that Native Americans also deserve reparations. Sometimes slavery is considered America's greatest sin, but I'm sure most people would put the ethnic cleansing and theft (and genocide in the most extreme cases) committed against the Native Americans of equal weight. The numbers of people involved are smaller, I think.

"were reparations ever to be made, they would be followed by widespread resentment of blacks that would make current-day blabbing about "those people" seem like very small potatoes in comparison. The attitude would, I think, be we've paid you off, now leave us alone. You're on your own."

I thought of that too. Someone, maybe in the article or maybe somewhere else, said that, say, 1.5 trillion dollars could be paid over 10 years and it really wouldn't be that much. Possibly so, but you know the reaction from a great many whites (and probably some non-whites) would be exactly what Russell predicts. Still, I'm not sure that's enough reason not to do it. I'm sorta torn about it too.

Part of what TNC is up to is not just to argue for reparations, but to change how people think about the problems black people have in America. He has some pretty serious ambitions for his piece in that respect. Here's a sample of what he has to say--

"The final piece of this was the uptick in cultural pathology critiques extending from the White House on down. There is massive, overwhelming evidence for the proposition that white supremacy is the only thing wrong with black people. There is significantly less evidence for the proposition that culture is a major part of what's wrong with black people. But we don't really talk about white supremacy. We talk about inequality, vestigial racism, and culture. Our conversation omits a major portion of the evidence."

He thinks even liberals get this wrong (including the WH, but also liberals like Jonathan Chait over The New Republic--he's had an argument with him recently.)

The problem I have with reparations is this. I can see paying reparations to someone who was personally harmed by something. But not to someone who happened to have an ancestor who was harmed. Which is to say, it is too late to pay reparations for slavery. Unfortunate, perhaps, but there it is.

Of course, the follow-on effects of slavery are still with us, as TNC notes. But the way to deal with those is to deal with them as present problems, not on the basis of what happened a century or two ago. And that has the added advantage of allowing much easier determination of who has been harmed and needs action.

I say "needs action" because I think that, fairly or not, "reparations" is going to get major negative knee-jerk reactions. Even from people who would otherwise agree that something should be done to address the current problems.

"Reparations" says to people paying them (or taxed to pay them) that they, personally, did something which demands payment. But the vast majority of Americans not only never held slaves themselves, they don't have any ancestors who did either. So they naturally feel it is unjust to force them to pay for something that they never did, nor benefitted from. And that even though they would frequently say that, Yes, something should be done to level the playing field for today's children.

Labels matter. And in this case, I think TNC is damaging his goal by the label he has chosen to apply.

Sometimes slavery is considered America's greatest sin, but I'm sure most people would put the ethnic cleansing and theft (and genocide in the most extreme cases) committed against the Native Americans of equal weight. The numbers of people involved are smaller, I think.

It wasn't as systematic, and large-scale examples of it mostly ended significantly earlier than African slavery, but slavery (to include export trade) can of course be included in the evils inflicted on Native American populations by European Americans and proto-Americans. But you're right, at this point the numbers are a lot smaller. Depending on how you slice the 2010 census data, you get ~42m for African American, and ~5m for Native American.

"So they naturally feel it is unjust to force them to pay for something that they never did, nor benefitted from."

I wouldn't be so quick to assume that most whites haven't benefited from white supremacy. Anyway, people are normally happy to benefit from the actions of people a century or more ago, so I think it's fair to say that we might also owe reparations for what our country did a century or more ago. If there can be collective benefit that stems from being an American citizen then there can also be some collective obligations. If people don't want to assume those obligations, then they can move to some other country. But he isn't just talking about the distant past. Basically his view as I understand it is that America was a white racist country from the very start and it has acted this way right up until the present. It didn't end with slavery and it didn't even end with Jim Crow or sundown towns and much of the wealth of the country was built on the backs of unpaid slave labor. And much of the wealth since then was stolen from blacks--this is why he spends so much time talking about the real estate market in Chicago. Even the New Deal is tainted with white racism.

There are plenty of practical problems with reparations but for me he makes a pretty good case that America as a nation owes a massive sum of money to many millions of its black citizens.

I wouldn't be so quick to assume that most whites haven't benefited from white supremacy.

As I understood it, the (somewhat narrower) question concerned reparations for slavery. And those whose ancestors arrived since the Civil War? How did they benefit from slavery? Answer: mostly, they didn't.

They may have, as you say, benefited from white supremacy. But that is a much harder sell, given that discrimination has afflicted not only blacks but other races. And, indeed, ethnic groups which today are grouped together as "white" -- which would include, for example, the Irish, the Italians, the Poles, etc., etc.

If you start down the reparations road, consistency will require taking essentially every individual and calculating how much in aggregate they benefited and how much they (perhaps via their ancestors) were harmed. This way lies madness. Better by far to take the world as we have it today and deal with its problems.

There's nothing wrong with acknowledging the wrongs done in the past. But reparations, being monetary, require calculations -- detailed and at least somewhat precise calculations. There is no way to go there without leaving some people, and probably everybody, feeling that they have not been treated equitably. Not just whites, but everybody. Not good.

Theoretically, Native Americans received (or were supposed to receive) reparations, in that the Federal government was supposed to provide for tribes on the basis of treaty obligations. Of course, the impetus was, as one Kiwi said in regard to the natives of Aotearoa, to "smooth the pillow of the dying race", which suggests that the obligation would terminate with the passing of the tribe or tribes.

There is also the payment made to Japanese-Americans who were interned, signed by Ronald Reagan. An article about the bill and the report written for commission, entitled "Personal Justice Denied", is here

Looking forward, not backward, has some practical appeal

What does "looking forward, not backward" look like?

Leaving reparations to the side for a moment, is anything at all due to American blacks, given our history?

If so, what would that be?

It seems to me that the disparate experience of whites and blacks, specifically, in our history is like a wound that will not heal. Still, to this day.

What will it take, looking forward, to change that?

To me, personally, simply acknowledging that "bad things happened" doesn't quite address the scope and scale of what the "bad things" actually were.

Nor does it address the continuing disparity between the experience of being white, and being black, in this country.

Looking forward, not backward, has some practical appeal

To those on top, certainly.

Wasn't that the exactly Obama's argument for not prosecuting torturers ?

It is as though the maintenance of the American myth outweighs any considerations of justice.
The practicalities themselves have never been explored.

A country curious about how reparations might actually work has an easy solution in Conyers’s bill, now called HR 40, the Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act. We would support this bill, submit the question to study, and then assess the possible solutions. But we are not interested...

Anyway, people are normally happy to benefit from the actions of people a century or more ago, so I think it's fair to say that we might also owe reparations for what our country did a century or more ago. If there can be collective benefit that stems from being an American citizen then there can also be some collective obligations.

I agree that there has been collective economic benefit to white Americans from the fact that our country was built on slavery, and that no price has been paid, leaving African-Americans in a worse situation. I believe in generous government financed social programs for the poor, or even just having a reverse tax, where the poor would be given tax dollars rather than having taxes taken. I wouldn't base this on "race". I think we have to try to get over "race" as defining a political class.

Nor does it address the continuing disparity between the experience of being white, and being black, in this country.

The only thing that the law can do is find ways to address economic disparity as it exists today. It's unfair and divisive to address the sins of the distant past, trying to determine whose ancestors owe whose money, and how that has played out since then. Affirmative action and other proactive efforts at integration were attempted, so it's not as if this society has just acknowledged that "bad things happened." Human history is full of examples of conquest, ill treatment of conquered people, slavery, etc. For good or evil, we have the world as it is now, including its comforts and its perils, and we're here together.

People who have lots of money should pay taxes. People who need money should get financial assistance. We need to mitigate income inequality and individual opportunity. To the extent that certain classes of people have been disadvantaged (including African-Americans because of slavery, native Americans because of government abuses, women because of property inequalities and lack of franchise, immigrants because of discrimination and exploitation, etc.) addressing income inequality is the best we can do.

i think some kind of reparative process must happen. i am a 53 year old white man from texas. i realized a few years after i became literate (14, 15?) that the foundation of all of the wealth of the south was derived from the blood and lives of black people. were the value of all the lives and all the wealth those lives provided for the white south to be returned to the african-american people of this land it would be a desolation. but repair we must. our attempts so far have been well-intentioned but misunderstood and the incredible magnitude of the crime seemed too far distant for some to recognize that affirmative action was a remedy for the monstrous past or that the past still lives in the present circumstances in which people find themselves. some reparative process that allows for a true, full, unmistakable airing of the atrocities might allow us to progress beyond the halting baby steps we've taken so far. good luck to us all.

I think we have to try to get over "race" as defining a political class.

What if race *does* define a political class?

I.e., what if black people are treated differently than whites?

I suspect virtually every black person in this country would love it if race was an insignificant factor in how folks were treated.

Part of what TNC is up to is not just to argue for reparations, but to change how people think about the problems black people have in America.

I have the same impression.

I think reparations to a couple of million Vietnamese and Iraqis are a bit more pressing.

Thanks russell, was going to put something up on this but didn't have the time yesterday.

AFAICT, here is what Coates is looking for:

the crime with which reparations activists charge the country implicates more than just a few towns or corporations. The crime indicts the American people themselves, at every level, and in nearly every configuration. A crime that implicates the entire American people deserves its hearing in the legislative body that represents them.

John Conyers’s HR 40 is the vehicle for that hearing. No one can know what would come out of such a debate. Perhaps no number can fully capture the multi-century plunder of black people in America. Perhaps the number is so large that it can’t be imagined, let alone calculated and dispensed. But I believe that wrestling publicly with these questions matters as much as—if not more than—the specific answers that might be produced. An America that asks what it owes its most vulnerable citizens is improved and humane. An America that looks away is ignoring not just the sins of the past but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future. More important than any single check cut to any African American, the payment of reparations would represent America’s maturation out of the childhood myth of its innocence into a wisdom worthy of its founders.

Essentially, let's study it and see what happens. People won't because they are afraid. People won't because "America, fnkc yeah!" People won't because "I got mine."

So we will carry on as he says elsewhere in the article:

The recovering alcoholic may well have to live with his illness for the rest of his life. But at least he is not living a drunken lie. Reparations beckons us to reject the intoxication of hubris and see America as it is—the work of fallible humans.

I think we have to try to get over "race" as defining a political class.

I'm sure TNC would agree with you.

Barring that utopia arriving without effort, how do you suggest we get there ?

As TNC approvingly quotes LBJ:
"Negro poverty is not white poverty.
Many of its causes and many of its cures are the same. But there are differences—deep, corrosive, obstinate differences—radiating painful roots into the community and into the family, and the nature of the individual. These differences are not racial differences. They are solely and simply the consequence of ancient brutality, past injustice, and present prejudice."

I think reparations to a couple of million Vietnamese and Iraqis are a bit more pressing.

Actually, in the case of Vietnam, secret memoranda from Nixon during the Paris Peace accords said that the US would give 3 billion dollars in reconstruction aid. While the language was carefully constructed to avoid the word reparations, they were, I think, clearly reparations in spirit. Unfrotunately, the MIA issue was raised as a reason to withhold this, followed by Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia. Of course, in the interim 3 decades, Vietnam has increased its GDP and become one of the SEAsian tigers, so the trade embargo was lifted in 1995, so I don't think the Vietnamese consider the question of reparations pressing.

My feeling is that, were reparations ever to be made, they would be followed by widespread resentment of blacks that would make current-day blabbing about "those people" seem like very small potatoes in comparison.

TNC posits an interesting counterfactual with the example of Germany/Israel. FWIW.

"Reparations" says to people paying them (or taxed to pay them) that they, personally, did something which demands payment.

This is pretty much in line with my objection to reparations.

I would be open to a discussion of how the effects of past injustice can begin to be undone. But it would have to be in deed, not just empty gesture. And no, I don't know what that would look like, but I am open to ideas.

The country could start by getting rid of the war on drugs.

Amen, Charles, Amen!

"Reparations" says to people paying them (or taxed to pay them) that they, personally, did something which demands payment.

It doesn't say any such thing.
People might choose to infer that, but it is not necessarily implied.

The UK (arguably) benefitted greatly from its colonial history, and (arguably) continues to do so.

Did I participate in it ?
No.

Do I feel some sort of responsibility for it ?
Yes.

This happened before I was born:
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/06/uk-compensate-kenya-mau-mau-torture
I don't have a problem with my taxes being spent on it.

It's not that I mind my tax dollars being spent, and I certainly don't mind that my tax dollars are being spent on people who are in a bad place now. It's easy to talk about reparations for people who aren't in your country, or reparations for people who were harmed fairly recently.

However, so much time has passed, that many of us are African-American who don't even know it. Basically, it's a matter of skin color or ethic identification, or ability to trace ancestry to slavery. I can trace ancestry to a Cherokee person, who probably was also African-American. If my DNA checks out, how much do I get? And how many prosperous African-Americans (and I know they aren't represented among the prosperous as they should be) would get their token sum?

Monetary reparations makes no sense at this time.

On the other hand, John Conyers's hearings would be very welcome. However, no "settlement" would be enough, so then what?

"I think reparations to a couple of million Vietnamese and Iraqis are a bit more pressing."

Why? I completely agree that we owe reparations to the Iraqis and the Vietnamese, but a black child living in poverty with rather poor life prospects seems like a pressing problem to me.

Also, why does this have to be some sort of freaking ideological competition?

The TNC article was a good read, thanks for posting it, russell.

Two comments have struck me so far in this thread.

LJ:

Vietnam has increased its GDP and become one of the SEAsian tigers, so the trade embargo was lifted in 1995, so I don't think the Vietnamese consider the question of reparations pressing.

and charles:

The country could start by getting rid of the war on drugs.

Reparations have always troubled me.

Punishing children for the crimes of their parents, even if they benefit from it, troubles me.

On top of that, the how much and to who are complex problems (which someone, I think sapient, touched on upthread).

On top of that, there is the SCALE of the problem. Let's assume you want to just bump the median payscale to white levels for a generation. That's almost 25K a year per family (http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-median-income-in-the-us-by-race-2013-9 ). That's a lot of money. Other calculations based on the price of slave labor are also high.

On top of that, there is the question of how much a cash transfer really matters to a problem that is this multifaceted (there are poverty problems, access to education, legacy admission disparity, generational issues).

On top of THAT, there is the resentment issue russell mentioned.

The end result, in my not educated at all opinion, could be a crippling cost resulting in minimal lasting effect tied to increased racial tensions.

In short, I think it would perpetuate the problem. Would be willing to convinced otherwise, I'm not an expert, etc etc.

So going back to the comment of LJ and charles:

The "need" for reparations go away, in my mind, if we equalize opportunity. Instead of focusing on the racial differences, we focus on making it so that anybody that works hard has access to education and middle class jobs.

Not that that's an easy thing to do, and there is a lot of disagreement on how to do it best. But I think a start is recognizing some obvious inequalities in our current day system. Which is where charles' comment comes into my thinking.

Our drug law, indeed most of our justice system, is rife with racism. I'm more concerned with the inequalities that exist today than reparations for crimes committed.

Not because the crimes weren't terrible, but just because I think the inequality of today we can fix, while the crimes of the past are a permanent stain on our history.

Just my two cents, I'm not an expert on any of these issues.

Coates has an intimidatingly large number of links in his blogs on this question. Here's one to a piece responding to the notion that reparations are only about slavery. This piece is about discrimination in real estate,which if I understand the argument is a major cause of the wealth difference between whites and blacks

link

Folks really need to read the article to engage with the concept TNC is laying out, and not what they imagine "reparations" to be. The first order of business is a national, public accounting of the scale of the plunder, an acknowledgement of what this country has done to get to today.

Given that a sigificant percentage of the population and political office-holders treat facts they don't like as if they were falsehoods I'm not optimistic.

And if you're a white American whose parents were able to get mortgages in nice neighborhoods, like me, then you've benefitted from white supremacy (likely in many other ways, too, but housing is Coates' angle of attack). My parents were actively liberal - my dad went to the March on Washington, for example - but they had access to capital (social and financial) that was in part ill-gotten, and that has flowed on to me.

Start with a Great Reckoning, and see what comes of it.

But it would have to be in deed, not just empty gesture.

This captures a lot of my issue with reparations.

Were they to be paid, IMO they would likely be basically a gesture.
And, the gesture having been made, the need for a response in deed would be soon forgotten.

I'm also not sure how you put a price on what we're talking about. Same for the Native Americans - what do we do, give them back North America?

I note Coates' comments regarding Germany and Israel, but I also note the anger many in Israel felt at the idea that mere money could make up for what had happened.

As far as being asked to pay for things that aren't your personal responsibility, I see the point, but I also see that lots of folks suffer for things that aren't *their* personal responsibility.

Perhaps the question of who's to blame is no longer really the point.

My personal thoughts about what "in deed" look like usually run along the lines of:

Discriminate against someone in a mortgage, you buy them the house.
Discriminate against someone in rental housing, you pay for their apartment.
Discriminate against someone in hiring, they get the job and you lose yours.

Ditto for college, criminal sentencing, police activity, etc. It's kind of an eye for an eye thing, which may seem harsh, but it would make the point.

Ideally, we would all recognize the humanity in each other, and treat each other as we would like to be treated. No law against that, and no law needed to make it so.

Would that it were so.

Punishing children for the crimes of their parents

As an aside, I don't think the point of reparations is to punish anybody.

If I understand correctly, reparations are intended to remediate harm done, not punish those who did the harm.

That Israel angle made me think of the Palestinians. Pass some of the money along to the Palestinians if the German money is dirty. But they may not want it either--they want their homeland back.

"Punishing children for the crimes of their parents, even if they benefit from it, troubles me."

It's not punishment--it's reparations. Again, it's strange to me that everyone takes for granted that we can benefit from the unjust acts of people in the past, but the idea that we might try to make up for some of those injustices by spreading the wealth to those who have been hurt by it, and we are talking about present day injury, not just what happened in 1850--well, it just seems odd.

Anyway, I want to echo Priest and urge people to read both Coates and some of his links. I have only read a little. Coates wants to change the way we think about this and whatever one thinks of reparations, I think he's right about that. There are far too many whites who think that black poverty is due to black culture (or black genes) and that white racism no longer plays much of a role.
I never gave any thought to the effects of housing discrimination until I saw Coates refer to it from time to time at his blog.

And just this week the House GOP is pushing an ag bill that would support a summer school lunch program, but only for rural areas and not urban kids.

Makes it harder to address reparations when you're still fighting active discrimination.

Nigel,
So what do you say to some Vietnamese boat person about why he should pay for the sins that occurred a century before he arrived? Or is he somehow benefiting from racism against blacks -- and if so, how?

Any time we get past the philosophical position and into specifics, we have to deal witht he fact that the country is full of people who don't fit the black/white bifurcation that reparations discussions start from. There are those who don't belong to either race. There are those who just arrived in the country. And then there are the increasing number of mixed race children. Until you come up with specifics of who, exactly, is eligible and who is not, and for who would be expected to pay and who would not, the discussion can go nowhere.

Just as an intellectual exercise, what would you say of Mr Obama? He gets labeled as black. Yet his American parent (his mother) was white, and his father was not American and, because he was only here for college, not significantly impacted by American racism. So, does he get reparations, or does he help pay them?

If I understand correctly, reparations are intended to remediate harm done, not punish those who did the harm.

Still, what about people (oops - rural people) like this: http://history1900s.about.com/library/photos/blygd45.htm

Were they just b.s. people? Who is telling their stories? Were they just white supremecists gone lazy?

As a society, perhaps there is nothing worse than slavery, and the horrible stories that TNC recounts about so many people. But not sure that the "American story" is served by making it exclusively about slavery, and especially about race.

Reparations beckons us to reject the intoxication of hubris and see America as it is—the work of fallible humans.

Fat chance. To even think that last part is pure unadulterated heresy. What part of 'divine providence', 'manifest destiny', 'God's new chosen' and 'American exceptionalism' don't you understand?

@Priest
And if you're a white American whose parents were able to get mortgages in nice neighborhoods, like me, then you've benefitted from white supremacy

This sort of nonsense is what makes the subject hard to discuss. It is absolutely true that blacks suffered from their inability to get mortgages, including in "nice neighborhoods". But that isn't the same as saying that someone else benefited because they were able to. At best, the lack of potential black buyers reduced property costs/values by some miniscule fraction. But it hardly represents a benefit in any real amount.

"Reparations" says to people paying them (or taxed to pay them) that they, personally, did something which demands payment.

So, no reparations for the Japanese American internment then?

Reparations beckons us to reject the intoxication of hubris and see America as it is—the work of fallible humans.

Reparations may beckon that. But the chances of it actually having that effect are nil. Most likely, it will have the (admittedly unintended) consequence of enhancing a sense of victimhood. But that effect? Never going to happen with real people.

TNC is exactly the problem. We rail against people who talk about"those" people m, unless TNC proclaims it is "those" people who are the victims. The mortgage fiasco was initiated by politicians trying to help black people, and unintended consequences. TNC blames it on racism???? Banks were REQUIRED to meet quotas for subprime lending. The black community wasn't required to buy houses they couldn't afford. In north Baltimore.

bah, humbug.

Were they to be paid, IMO they would likely be basically a gesture.
And, the gesture having been made, the need for a response in deed would be soon forgotten.

[...]

I note Coates' comments regarding Germany and Israel, but I also note the anger many in Israel felt at the idea that mere money could make up for what had happened.

This draws to mind a (bad, poor-fitting) parallel: the scant reparations that have been made to Romani survivors of the Porajmos. It's a bad comparison, not least because antiziganism remains a politically correct form of racism in many places, and it's still essentially acceptable to reduce the Holocaust to the Shoah, but it goes well with the notion that reparations could easily be reduced to an ephemeral sop, accompanied by no social change and possibly resentment. Although to underscore how poor a parallel I'm drawing, I'm pretty sure there wasn't resentment from this paltry-but-temporarily-significant gesture because it sounds like it occurred entirely outside the consciousness of the general public.

One thing that is perhaps more relevant coming out of that digression is that when the subject of reparations has been discussed with Romani organizations, one point that they emphasized was that any reparation funds should not be used strictly to provide compensation to survivors, but should be used to help improve the situation of the Roma in Europe today. Which I think is a useful notion to keep in mind. As discrimination is very much ongoing, just handing out cash to individuals will not change anything beyond the short term. Of course, the problem is that it's so much easier to just hand out cash and declare things all done...

wj, it's not nonsense. The FHA was created as a part of the New Deal, and the policies implemented made it easier for white people to get mortgages. I would characterize a government funded program designed to only help white people as more than hardly any benefit.

That's why there has to be a public accounting. As long as there's this level of public ignorance about what actually happenend and why, there will be little support or pressure for productive measures.

Priest, what is the "public accounting"? What are the Civil War Amendments to the Constitution but a public accounting? What is the Civil Rights Act but a "public accounting"? What was affirmative action but a "public accounting"? The public has accounted. It's time to address poverty, and move beyond race. Being reminded of history is jarring, but how much money do I get, as a white looking octaroon?

The relations between Israel and Germany on both the political (i.e. between governments) and the personal (opinion 'in the streets') level are complicated (on both sides). And both sides try to get unfair advantages out of it. Germany is still in the business of denying actual Nazi victims compensation asking them instead to get it from Israel whereto, as it is claimed, all the necessary money was sent already. And Israeli governments try to morally blackmail German politicians on a regular base. Guys in the current government even sink so low as to accuse Germany of planning to complete Hitler's work anytime there is even mild criticism of Israel's behaviour towards the Palestinians. And just a few days ago Netanyahu threw a temper tantrum when he heard that the next delivery of German weaponry would have to be payed at market prices instead of being free of charge or at least half-price as in the past (as with the Israeli submarines*). In other words Germany uses its 'reparations' to and support of Israel as a moral shield** and to absolve itself at least in part of the bloody brown history, and Israel milks the moral obligations of Germany to gain often totally unrelated material advantages and stacks of get-out-of-jail-free cards. That in turn feeds anti-Israel sentiments in the German population that can often get turned into outright antisemitism by demagogues. Germany tries to gets its fingers clean from the past but risks to just get new dirt on them from the attempts in the present and Israel increasingly squanders its moral credit by playing the Holocaust card even where there is no reasonable connection to be made.
---
Plus there is also a rivalry between different groups of Nazi victims. Some Jewish groups with Israeli backing try to monopolize the Holocaust even going so far as to actively fighting official German attempts to formally recognize other groups of Nazi victims ('Gypsies', homosexuals etc.) and to include them in the memorials (or giving them their own).


*that's an especially contentious issue since there has been fear that Israel could use those for a first strike on Iran, maybe even with nuclear tipped cruise missiles
**in intra-German politics too. Mandatory support of Isreal is often quoted as a reason to be silent and inactive on other topics.

@marty

if by "helping" african-americans you mean forcing them into sub-prime mortgages despite their credit scores and positioning them into losing their homes and ruining their credit scores, then yes, banks certainly "helped" the african-american community into another round of destruction. if you think the quotas for subprime lending set by fannie mae were anything other than a naked attempt by that organization to make money off the subprime market you really weren't paying attention.

5 acres of piney woods with poor soil. Not sure about your eighth of a mule, maybe time share with your neighbors.

The quotas were driven by Barney Frank and his cronies with the best of intentions. Everything isn't a conspiracy, sometimes its just stupidity. No person was ever "forced" into a mortgage.

Hartmut: Germany is still in the business of denying actual Nazi victims compensation asking them instead to get it from Israel whereto, as it is claimed, all the necessary money was sent already.

Well, I can see this, actually. I'm the child of a WWII veteran and grew up with skeptical feelings about Germans. But let's be real: what could Germans do to repay Holocaust victims? They could definitely do something, and did, but never, never would it be enough.

It would never, never be enough for "Americans" to pay reparations for slavery. No amount of money is enough. The Civil War wasn't enough. The Civil War Amendments weren't enough. The Civil Rights Act wasn't enough. Desegregation wasn't enough.

I'm not trying to complain that African-Americans aren't satisfied. I'm just saying that there isn't a way to satisfy. How do you "satisfy" the European Jews for the Holocaust? Not possible. How do you "satisfy" African Americans for slavery, and their loss of civil rights? Not possible. We did some symbolic things. There are still racists and bad people to perpetrate more injustice.

Work against people who perpetrate injustice, and work for economic equality.

Still, what about people (oops - rural people) like this

Is it a contest of some kind?

The quotas were driven by Barney Frank and his cronies with the best of intentions.

Marty, the real estate stuff TNC discusses in his article are from Chicago in the 50's through 60's, maybe into the 70's.

Nothing to do with Barney Frank.

And, not a simple matter of "regulations gone awry".

You (and others here) are correct, not everything is about race. The stuff that is about race, is about race.

Are folks thinking that we're all done with the race thing, and it's just a bunch of blacks whining now?

FWIW, here's Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, talking about his interactions with the Philly and NYC cops, and on the obligation he feels to make sure that nobody around him feels threatened by him.

If you don't know Thompson, he's the drummer for the Roots, a very visible and successful band, he's an enormously hard-working and successful musician and music producer, and he appears on the television nightly on the Jimmy Fallon show, where he is the music director.

He's a businessman, an extraordinarily proficient musician and a serious scholar of popular music going back 60 or 70 years, a tremendously successful professional in a very difficult and competitive industry, and he's one of the most intelligent and peaceable cats you will ever want to meet.

And he's an obviously black man, and as such he's obliged to deal with a constant level of hassle and suspicion.

I could be wrong, but I'm not seeing (frex) Kid Rock getting hassled by the cops every time he drives through Detroit. And, of the two, Questlove projects far less of a "thug" persona.

My point here is that the experience of being black in this country is not like the experience of being white. And that's to a degree that is not accounted for by geography, economic status, or anything other than skin color.

I don't understand people who talk like race is not a real issue, still.

"real estate stuff TNC discusses in his article are from Chicago in the 50's through 60's, maybe into the 70's."

some was some wasn't, the whole Wells Fargo, subprime mortgage rant was directly related to the mortgage collapse. I read every word, which I can never do with Coates, and the closer he got to real time the more he stretched.

No we are not through with race, yes there is a lot of whining going on.

My point here is that the experience of being black in this country is not like the experience of being white. And that's to a degree that is not accounted for by geography, economic status, or anything other than skin color.

I agree. But skin color isn't necessarily indicative of what someone's ancestry is about. Yes, dark brown skin probably indicates African-American. Unless a more recent immigrant, probably a descendant of a slave.

But it's hard, 150 years later, to say that when I see someone on the street who has dark skin, that person's great grandmother was a slave. Or when I look at my own olive skin, that I am getting that from Eastern Europe, or some mix of African-American-European that's on the other side.

It's not feasible to do a money thing now. Best to address income inequality so that people don't have to "prove" their racial identity. Sure, it's okay to identify with some group, but it should be a cultural, not political or legal identity.

No one ever forced anyone ... Yadda yadda.

True.

That's why America has sales forces and the Russians have Cossacks.

Always be closing with fools.

At least the Cossacks were honest.

Americans protect penny stock brokers under various rules of law and the Constitutional right to lie your effing butt off over a public utility, whereas the Cossacks would eviscerate the bastards.

We're so enlightened.

Coates is a serious individual.

Or exactly the problem. Jesus...

I'd like to see some real actual evidence that Barney Frank forced Wall Street to issue NINJA loans to people who had virtually no means to pay them back. I'd like to see some REAL evidence that Fannie and Freddie were big players in subprime. They were not. They came late to the party:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/post/barney-frank-didnt-cause-the-housing-crisis/2011/11/28/gIQANqLH5N_blog.html

more...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/post/barney-frank-didnt-cause-the-housing-crisis/2011/11/28/gIQANqLH5N_blog.html


Somebody who actually noted the bubble in 2002, and issued an appropriate warning:

http://www.cepr.net/index.php/publications/reports/the-run-up-in-home-prices-is-it-real-or-is-it-another-bubble/

The demand, driven by Wall Street, for mortgages for repackaging into marketable securities was a big driver in the inflation of the housing bubble. See "The Big Short" or Yves Smith's "ECONNED" for more on this.

apologies for runaway bold...I do not know how to staunch it...shoot the monitor?

</b>

Coates: "Indeed, in America there is a strange and powerful belief that if you stab a black person 10 times, the bleeding stops and the healing begins the moment the assailant drops the knife. We believe white dominance to be a fact of the inert past, a delinquent debt that can be made to disappear if only we don’t look."

...still reading. wow.

russell (and a few others):

Yeah, I shouldn't use punish. It's the wrong word. What I'm trying to express is that the repayment has to come from SOMEWHERE which means less money for other things.

Putting aside our goals as a nation to pay back our wrongs as a nation. Which means someone else is going to have their ox gored.

That isn't to say it shouldn't be done, but there are costs, and someone has to pay them.

russell said better:

If I understand correctly, reparations are intended to remediate harm done, not punish those who did the harm.

I agree, now the question falls to how to remediate the harm. I'm unconvinced monetary reparations, either direct or indirect, would really do much good.

We have to ask ourselves, what do we want?

If the answer is that everybody, regardless of their ancestry,
should be able to work hard, be educated, and have a middle class life, I'm on board 100%.

If we, as americans, want to absolve ourselves of the sins of our forefathers, I don't think we can. They are there, and we must carry that burden.

There are deep structural problems that afflict minorities, especially african-americans, disproportionately. Monetary reparations won't fix that, imo (again, not an expert).

Perhaps the question of who's to blame is no longer really the point.

I agree. It's how to fix the problem.

It just came to me that there is a better German example more comparable to the US situation: the (double) black genocide committed against the Herero and Nama in South-West Africa (today: Namibia). A few years ago (I guess around the time of the centenary) we got reminded that Germany never officially apologized for what was done in that colony. I remember what followed as a shameful farce with the German administration seeking a way to get out of it on the cheap, a wild search for a way to 'apologize' without giving anyone a legal way to seek compensation/reparations/whateveryoumaycallit. If my memory does not deceive me there was even a case of one (iirc Green) politician trying to do a sincere expression of contrition/remorse about the atrocities resulting in official denials that that public expression of German guilt was in any way official or could be made use of legally. It was not about 'hell, we did nothing wrong there' but a pure 'OK, we did a really bad thing but we are not willing to do anything that could cost us materially'. Among the few concrete steps was renaming a street in Munich (replacing the guy who was responsible for the genocide with the name of the tribe he tried to wipe out).
Several years earlier when Namibia became independent things looked a little different. Iirc there was substantial German support for the new state but (again iirc) no one prominently mentioned the darker aspects of the German rule there at the time.
East Africa is a bit more complicated. After the Maji-Maji uprising the German colonial government started serious reforms to remove the root causes. That had little to do with morals but with simple utilitarian pragmatism but it was a huge step into the right direction. WW1 put an end to that. What happened in WW1 is still to a large degree a dirty little secret and the legend of Lettow-Vorbeck has still not been fully dismantled. Still too many believe that the natives voluntarily fought shoulder to shoulder with their German commanders because the preferred them to the Allies and the German/African troops were greeted as liberators when the went on the offensive into neighbouring colonies. That is about as true as the claim that the black slaves in the American South joined the Confederate case en masse to fight the evil Yankees and the reason to keep up that lie is the same, self-exoneration: 'If they fought on our side, our prior treatment of them must have been very good indeed => to claim we were racist donkey cavities is shameful libel and slander. WE were the good guys there'.
Should we see it as net positive or negative that the current youngsters suffer from near total amnesia about the very fact that we ever had colonies (part of being generally totally uninformed about anything that happened between Waterloo and the 1918 armistice) and thus lack the traditional prejudices?

The previous posting attempt seems to have failed, so here is a retry. Please delete, if the previous attempt should show up later nonetheless.

It just came to me that there is a better German example more comparable to the US situation: the (double) black genocide committed against the Herero and Nama in South-West Africa (today: Namibia). A few years ago (I guess around the time of the centenary) we got reminded that Germany never officially apologized for what was done in that colony. I remember what followed as a shameful farce with the German administration seeking a way to get out of it on the cheap, a wild search for a way to 'apologize' without giving anyone a legal way to seek compensation/reparations/whateveryoumaycallit. If my memory does not deceive me there was even a case of one (iirc Green) politician trying to do a sincere expression of contrition/remorse about the atrocities resulting in official denials that that public expression of German guilt was in any way official or could be made use of legally. It was not about 'hell, we did nothing wrong there' but a pure 'OK, we did a really bad thing but we are not willing to do anything that could cost us materially'. Among the few concrete steps was renaming a street in Munich (replacing the guy who was responsible for the genocide with the name of the tribe he tried to wipe out).
Several years earlier when Namibia became independent things looked a little different. Iirc there was substantial German support for the new state but (again iirc) no one prominently mentioned the darker aspects of the German rule there at the time.
East Africa is a bit more complicated. After the Maji-Maji uprising the German colonial government started serious reforms to remove the root causes. That had little to do with morals but with simple utilitarian pragmatism but it was a huge step into the right direction. WW1 put an end to that. What happened in WW1 is still to a large degree a dirty little secret and the legend of Lettow-Vorbeck has still not been fully dismantled. Still too many believe that the natives voluntarily fought shoulder to shoulder with their German commanders because the preferred them to the Allies and the German/African troops were greeted as liberators when the went on the offensive into neighbouring colonies. That is about as true as the claim that the black slaves in the American South joined the Confederate case en masse to fight the evil Yankees and the reason to keep up that lie is the same, self-exoneration: 'If they fought on our side, our prior treatment of them must have been very good indeed => to claim we were racist donkey cavities is shameful libel and slander. WE were the good guys there'.
Should we see it as net positive or negative that the current youngsters suffer from near total amnesia about the very fact that we ever had colonies (part of being generally totally uninformed about anything that happened between Waterloo and the 1918 armistice) and thus lack the traditional prejudices?

""Indeed, in America there is a strange and powerful belief that if you stab a black person 10 times, the bleeding stops and the healing begins the moment the assailant drops the knife."

There is a strange and powerful belief among some, that if you DIDN'T stab a black person 10 times, but happen to vaguely resemble somebody who did long ago stab a black person, you're guilty of a stabbing, and need to compensate somebody who also vaguely resembles the long dead victim.

This strange and powerful belief is substantially more irrational than the first.

Donald, I don't want this to be a competition either but e.g. the genetically deformed children of agent orange victims or the Iraqis forced to hang out in Syria of all places are the direct result of the explicit policies of recent administrations (not to speak of all the loss of life and property) and they haven't received even a token compensation or admission of guilt and probably never will receive anything substantial - the Germans got the Marshall plan.

This strange and powerful belief is substantially more irrational than the first.

From Donald Johnson:

Again, it's strange to me that everyone takes for granted that we can benefit from the unjust acts of people in the past, but the idea that we might try to make up for some of those injustices by spreading the wealth to those who have been hurt by it, and we are talking about present day injury, not just what happened in 1850--well, it just seems odd.

And, Brett, I'm pretty sure there's going to be no accounting mechanism by which the federal government is going to send a bill to people who vaguely resemble ... well ... anyone.

There isn't going to be a fund set up that gets paid exclusively by white people, if that's what you had in mind.

Not to mention that, whether or not you did the stabbing, you still benefited from it. I'm guessing you'll deny that up and down, but that's still part of the idea - not that you, Brett Bellmore, benefited in particular, but that many, many people in the United States, generally, have benefited (and still do benefit) from the historical (and on-going) harms inflicted on black people.

That's not to say that I've firmly decided that reparations are a good idea, but it seems the concept needs repeated clearing up, given the number of times people have tried on this thread, without it preventing comments like your last coming up afterward.

whether my ancestors held slaves or not they were the beneficiaries of the enormous wealth, north and south, accumulated by means of the claveholders lash. i can live a life as free of racist sentiment as it is possible for a fallible human being to do but as a white man my wealth, my opportunities, and my lifestyle have been subsidized by the monstrous instrument of slavery followed by oppression followed by exploitation. my biracial grandsons are more likely to be written up for disciplinary infractions in school, harrassed by police officers, considered dangerous by random strangers, and hunted down by people like zimmerman in florida than my white nieces and nephew.

i stand by my previous statement, reparative justice is not just about money, it is also about the acknowledgement of our shared participation in an economy and a polity tainted at its heart by the legacy of the extraction of value from black bodies and black pockets over centuries.

No we are not through with race, yes there is a lot of whining going on

Though of course some of us will differ as to whether 'a lot of whining' is going on - and indeed as to who here is doing the whining.

"There isn't going to be a fund set up that gets paid exclusively by white people, if that's what you had in mind."

That's true: Reparations are a complete non-starter, never going anywhere. That's the point to talking about them: To foster a sense of entitlement and grievance which makes the people you're promising reparations to easier to manipulate, and distracts them from solving their problems themselves, instead of waiting for somebody else to solve them.

The purpose of reparations talk is just to make blacks easier to manipulate as a voting block, that's all. From that perspective, the there's no actual prospect of their ever being paid is a feature, not a bug. If reparations actually got paid, they'd lose their utility.

"Not to mention that, whether or not you did the stabbing, you still benefited from it."

Yeah, because I'm white. Never mind any actual facts of my life history, where my ancestors came from, where I grew up. I'm white, so I get assigned this guilt. Straight up racism: My color tells you everything you need to know about me.

You know why reparations are going nowhere? Because most people aren't racist enough to think they make any sense.

Given the current state of our society, reparations are a bad idea. Whites hold overwhelming social, economic, and political power. As a group, they continue to benefit from racism. Since they benefit from it, they continue to practice it.

The reparations (an idea that is politically DOA in any event)would simply be stolen back.

The past is not as distant as some here seem to believe it is.

...so I get assigned this guilt.

I don't recall mentioning anything about guilt. That's self-inflicted, apparently.

As far as your personal and family history goes, you seem to be stunningly unaware of the context in which you live. It is as invisible to you as the air you breathe (though you still manage to admit the existence of air somehow).

TNC has an interesting post on the evolution of his won thinking on reparations:
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/05/the-case-for-reparations-an-intellectual-autopsy/371125/

Both that, and the article itself, fairly evidently give the lie to Brett's rather spectacular piece of motive finding / mindreading...
That's the point to talking about them: To foster a sense of entitlement and grievance which makes the people you're promising reparations to easier to manipulate, and distracts them from solving their problems themselves...

*own*

"You know why reparations are going nowhere? Because most people aren't racist enough to think they make any sense."

this statement sums up the monumental obliviousness of our society and does explain why reparations are likely not going anywhere but not for any reason the author of the statement means. this statement also helps sum up the catastrophic failure of history education in our nation. for an educated individual such as the author to display so little understanding of the exploitative, indeed extractive, roots of the wealth of this nation-both in terms of the natives present before the europeans and the africans and african-americans whose destinies were kidnapped so soon after the europeans came- is to highlight either a failure of his education or a willful blindness to history on his part. my hat is off to him for making my continuing point by such an extreme negative example.

I'm white, so I get assigned this guilt privilege.

Navarro,

the problem with your ongoing statement is that it goes even further than most in assigning all wealth, particularly in the South, exclusively to that extracted from blacks. Any real reading of history contemplates slavery, sharecropping, which wasn't a singularly black experience. The civil war destroyed huge portions of wealth derived from slavery, even destroying the meager existence of the vast majority of Southerners who didn't own slaves.

My point is you, and TNC in 20000 words, assign value to all white people that just doesn't exist for most. Lest we forget that, by numbers, there are many more poor whites in this country than blacks.

Yup, get assigned that, too. And that's the point you can't grasp: You're just assigning it to me. You don't give a damn about my personal history, where I was raised, where my ancestors came from, none of that matters.

Only my skin color matters to you. And you think I'm the racist here.

Only my skin color matters to you. And you think I'm the racist here.

What you don't seem to get is that your skin color isn't the point of reparations. It's about the wealth created for the entire county on the backs of black people. (Again, not that reparations are necessarily a good idea.)

And when did I say you were racist? First you're guilty of something and now you're racist. WTF?

There is a difference between guilt and obligation.

The US, as a nation ought to be able to have an obligation to a disadvantaged group whose continuing disadvantage can be traced all the way back to the nation's founding.

One may deny the obligation, but calling those who acknowledge it racist is pretty twisted thinking, IMO.

You don't give a damn about my personal history, where I was raised, where my ancestors came from, none of that matters.

Actually, that part does matter. You are American, right? If not, this doesn't concern you.

On re-reading, my last comment could be read as some sort of swipe at the non-Americans commenting. It wasn't. My point was only that we're talking about reparations to be paid by the United States for what the country as a whole did to black people, to its great benefit.

Material benefit, that is. Spiritual, not so much.

In lieu of reperations, anybody on board with my "tough love for bigots" proposals, way upthread?

You discriminate, you pay.

What could be more fair than that?

Coates: "There is massive, overwhelming evidence for the proposition that white supremacy is the only thing wrong with black people. There is significantly less evidence for the proposition that culture is a major part of what's wrong with black people. But we don't really talk about white supremacy. We talk about inequality, vestigial racism, and culture. Our conversation omits a major portion of the evidence."

His current state is, as he describes it himself, "blue" and rubs against the upbeat standard theme of American "progress".

For those of you so inclined, a brief overview of the Coates-Chait dialogue can be found here.

We are what we are, but we continue to find ways to pretend that it's not the case. It is this veneer of self delusion that Coates despairs shall never be penetrated.

"My point was only that we're talking about reparations to be paid by the United States for what the country as a whole did to black people, to its great benefit."

The "country as a whole" didn't do squat. Part of the country waged a bloody war against the other part, to free those slaves, and in the process destroyed all that "great benefit", and then some. Or perhaps you didn't notice that the south was impoverished for generations after the Civil war?

And here you are, demanding reparations for slavery from the decendents of Union soldiers, the decendents of people who ran the underground railroad? And you don't think it matters a whit whether somebody's great granddad died on the battle field to defeat the Confederacy, or arrived in the US off a boat long after slavery was illegal. Just as much on the hook as Simon LeGree's lineal decendant.

You figure everybody who's white benefited after the fact from slavery, and you figure you've got no obligation to prove this in any particular case, because you don't feel any obligation to treat people as individuals, rather than mere instances of the group you've assigned them to. You've rejected the idea that people are entitled to be treated according to the content of their character, their own character, rather than the color of their skin.

In my book, this makes you a racist.

And you, of course, figure I'm a racist, because I demand that people be treated as individuals, without regard to their race. Funny how things have gotten stood on their head.

Slavery and the Jim Crow South created a cost payed by everybody. Just that blacks had to pay a great deal more than most anyone else. Anytime a society marginalizes any of its members, it harms the whole society.

Odds are, if slavery had been prohibited from the outset, the US would now be a wealthier and better country. In any case, a quite a bit different country.

"And here you are, demanding reparations for slavery from the decendents of Union soldiers, the decendents of people who ran the underground railroad? "

Sure. I didn't do anything to the Japanese-Americans, not being alive at the time, but have no problem with the government paying reparations that come out of my taxes. Once one accepts this principle, that as citizens of the US we have both rights and obligations, the rest is detail. Of course the details matter and I'm not convinced either way on whether reparations are a good idea, but your argument really amounts to the usual libertarian one that taxes are wrong.

And you, of course, figure I'm a racist

There's exactly one commentator on this thread calling other commentators racists.

Finding his identity is left as an exercise.

I didn't do anything to the Japanese-Americans, not being alive at the time, but have no problem with the government paying reparations that come out of my taxes.

Note, however, that those reparations were paid to those who were actually injured. Not to their descendants. My mother-in-law, having spent her teens at Manzanar, got a payment. My wife and brothers-in-law, not being born then, did not.

"There is massive, overwhelming evidence for the proposition that white supremacy is the only thing wrong with black people. There is significantly less evidence for the proposition that culture is a major part of what's wrong with black people. But we don't really talk about white supremacy. We talk about inequality, vestigial racism, and culture. Our conversation omits a major portion of the evidence"

The most telling of all things in this discussion, the black community simply bears no responsibility for their circumstance. The mounting evidence is completely contrary to this set of assertions. 75% of all of those living in poverty live in single woman led households. 75% of black households are led by single women and 35% live in poverty. It is a testament to the other 40% that they have escaped the statistics. Culture is contributing to the problems, yet TNC needs to deny it. Because then there could possibly be some self responsibility.

I still see opinion leaders on the (often religious) Right that try to not only whitewash US slavery but even try to present is as a benefit the n-words should be grateful for. Standard arguments:
a) if the n-words had not been brought over as slaves, they would likely never have found Christ and thus they and their descendants all would burn in hell.
b) Africa was (and is) such a hellhole that even the most mistreated slave in the US had it better than in the native land (an of course all the talk of mistreatment was mainly a Yankee invention to justify the War of Northern Aggression).
The guys making these arguments don't get shunned but their endorsements are sought in elections (although they sometimes get asked to not combine both because the PC crowd would try to paint the candidates as racist just for 'asking questions'). Btw, is there any proof that rape victims didn't secretly enjoy their experience and the 'PTSD' is just their guilty feeling about it? Just asking, you know. And did Hillary really not suffer permanent brain damage from the fall she invented in order not to have to testify about Benghazi? Just asking.

Marty:

You haven't demonstrated culture is causative. You demonstrated that family makeup correlates with poverty. The direction of the causal linkage, if any, is unknown.

As something to consider, roughly 50% of children born to low income parents in the US become low income adults. 40% of high income children become high income adults:

(http://books.google.com/books?id=mJlKOHGaSaAC&pg=PA143&ei=KdZ-R9TFFouotAOEvLWcCw&sig=xujAA5avuWMdAZ-4zoXFhv_tMHE#v=onepage&q&f=false )

Given that and the generations of theft and worse inflicted on african americans aren't really that historically distant, shouldn't we also consider that portions of the population are just locked into the cycle of poverty?

because I demand that people be treated as individuals, without regard to their race

And by that logic you should support reparations.

Unless you're happy to demand the principle while doing squat about it.

Just wanted to chime in for a moment to point out that Coates' argument for reparations is based on things that happened, at most, 50 to 60 years ago.

Not 150, or 400.

Many of the folks involved are still alive, and their kids and grandkids most certainly are.

Also wanted to point out that the specific thing he calls for is bringing Conyers HR 40 to the floor. Many, many steps from there to cutting a check.

Did folks actually read the piece?

Russell,

the fha and slick mortgage practices in Chicago 50 years ago are non compelling based on my understanding of what the state of affairs for many nonblack poor people at the time. After that I'd a reach and Conyers bill should be a nonstarter. If we want yo study the effects of a variety of predatory practices on poor people, well I'm ok.

Thompson,

I was just pointing out that Coates had not established causation of anything. Worse, hr dismissed any other possibility out of hand.

"And by that logic you should support reparations."

No, not really. Yes, "reparations" can mean "repairing" something, but that's an archaic meaning of the word. The modern meaning of the word is,

"1. the action of making amends for a wrong one has done, by providing payment or other assistance to those who have been wronged."

Paying "reparations" denotes that one is the victimizer. That's what it means, and it is perfectly sensible for people who have not committed a wrong to flatly refuse to pay reparations for it.

I'm all for reparation from actual, individual victimizers, to actual, individual victims. But that's not what we're talking about here. We're discussing just indiscriminantly extracting wealth from people who happen to be white, and giving it to people who happen to be black, (Maybe not in the form of checks, but yes.) without any concern for the actual individual histories.

Not going to pay reparations, any more than I'd volunteer to do jail time for a crime I didn't do. Just not going to.

Housing remains - effectively - segregated in the US.
This feeds in to everything from quality of schooling to childhood lead exposure.

Your causation is right there.

Please let us know what 'other possibilities' you would like us to consider.

Did you opt out of the internment reparations Brett?

Did you read the article, Brett ?

And do you believe you can opt out obligations the Unites States might agree they bear, according to your personal prejudices ?

As noted above, the people who got those reparations were the actual victims. Paid by the government, if not the individuals, who did the deed.

Asking the federal government to pay reperations for slavery is like asking the Allies to pay reparations for the Holocaust.

"Housing remains - effectively - segregated in the US."

People aren't living in the same places with equal frequency, to be sure. But segregation means more than that, and no, US housing is not, today, "segregated".

Just wanted to chime in for a moment to point out that Coates' argument for reparations is based on things that happened, at most, 50 to 60 years ago.

It's not clear to me that Coates is making the argument for reparations just on the basis of more recent racism. Certainly there are recent examples of the legacy of racism continuing, some of which have been litigated in courts.

What he does suggest, concretely, is that Conyers's bill go forward. I see no reason whatsoever why anyone would object to a hearing. As the article states, Congress studies a lot of much less important matters.

I was impressed by this solution:

"Today Charles Ogletree, the Harvard Law School professor, argues for something broader: a program of job training and public works that takes racial justice as its mission but includes the poor of all races."

I think that such a program, using general tax dollars or capital gains taxes, would be an appropriate way to address this issue.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Whatnot


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