It should come as no surprise that the familiar call for reparations has reared its ugly head again. This time however the call is coming from left-wing Democratic presidential hopefuls who are desperate to keep black voters on their side.
And once again, sane Americans are shaking their heads. There is no legitimate property-rights claim to be made by general descendants against general descendants for aggression perpetrated many years ago. In general, children are not liable for parental debts; how much more so, then, are people living more than a hundred fears years later not responsible for what their predecessors did! One does not correct an evil by perpetrating yet another evil.
Slavery and its subsequent mindset, which affected race relations in the 20th-century United States and onward, was an evil all righteous men reject. Does this then make reparations for past harm due to the descendants of those who were mistreated? No, it doesn’t! To believe that descendants of those enslaved are due some enumeration is to say that those descendants are still victims. Such a claim would fail in a court of law and it should fail as a government program.
There is no single fund of wealth lying in wait that was culled from those wrongfully enslaved or discriminated against. On the contrary, the great prosperity of this nation was built by the efforts of all ethnic groups.
True there are examples of federal and state governments providing monetary reparations to peoples they harmed. In 1988 President Ronald Reagan signed a bill giving monetary reparations to Japanese-Americans who had been interred during WWII and in 2014 North Carolina decided to give payments to victims of its eugenics program. The difference however is that these monies were paid to living survivors.
Statutes of limitations exist to provide societal coherence and assurance that a claim from decades ago or longer cannot be suddenly thrust upon people. Moreover, reparations claims would open a huge can of worms that could be used by almost every group that has been mistreated by governmental entities.
Who gets compensated? How much? The debate would be endless. Add to the mix that some blacks enslaved other blacks. And let’s not forget the poor white children of the British Empire that were sold into slavery in the colonies long before blacks. But such discussion is a waste of time and resources, as there is no escaping that only more problems and ludicrousness ensue when a false premise is accepted as a basis for any action.
Who do we hold accountable? Slavery is an evil that has been in existence worldwide for thousands of years with virtually all ethnic groups having been enslaved at one time or another. Historians John Thornton and Linda Heywood of Boston University estimate that 90% of those African slaves shipped to the New World were enslaved by Africans and sold to Muslims and European traders. The sad truth is that without complex business partnerships between African elites, Muslim nations, and European traders, slave trade to the New World would have been impossible, at least on the scale it occurred.
The current talk of reparations has less to do with righting a wrong and more to do with winning an election. It’s power-hungry politicians throwing out more socialistic offers to gain support, not provide justice. And in truth, it would actually make for more racial unrest and righteous indignation.
To stop thinking in terms of racial division and begin thinking in terms of being an American in the here-and-now would be productive. Only those seeking political support and those who wallow in the past in hopes of getting yet another socialistic program would support reparations.
Americans, driven by a love of freedom and justice, should focus on making all people as free as possible from government restrictions that inhibit personal and economic growth.
Source: Reparations Nonsense by Christine Smith, the Future of Freedom Foundation. You can read her article in full at the link provided.