A White House aide wants the president “to start acting now” on reparations without congressional approval. But not even the consent of the House and Senate would legitimize reparations. It’s a policy so divisive, and so impossible to implement, that the idea, which is an ugly societal wedge of its own, needs to be dropped and never brought up again.
While decent Americans have moved past racial politics and are starving for genuine unity, senior adviser Cedric Richmond “sees first-term progress on reparations,” reports Axios, which recently interviewed the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.
“We have to start breaking down systemic racism and barriers that have held people of color back and especially African Americans,” Richmond said. “We have to do stuff now.”
The U.S. House is considering a bill with 169 cosponsors that “establishes the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans.” The panel would “examine slavery and discrimination in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies.” A companion bill has also been introduced in the Senate.
Biden, according to his press secretary, “certainly would support a study of reparations,” and Vice President Kamala Harris has publicly endorsed a committee that would explore reparations. Neither of which is a surprise. Just as they can never let a crisis go to waste, Democrats are unable to resist virtue-signaling, and in some cases outright punitive measures against their countrymen, whether warranted or not.
It’s hard to imagine a federal statute that would be more divisive than one that forced today’s Americans to pay for acts of those who have been dead in many cases more than two centuries.
Our nation has reached a frightful point at which neither racist nor bigoted Americans are smeared with both labels if they dare support the “wrong” ideas and political figures. We’ve seen those who refuse to kneel to the woke ideology badgered and threatened in public by mindless rabble. Under a reparations regime, a radical faction that already wishes to cancel, segregate, and sow discord, having amassed immense political power, would go to bloody war with those who don’t agree with the agenda.
As if by divine design, at nearly the same time Richmond suggested Biden should act alone, an academic research paper titled “Presidential Polarization” explains how an “imperial presidency,” propped up by the administrative state, contributes to “polarization and political disunion” by issuing executive orders.
But let’s not overlook the fact that legislation that becomes law through the channels set forth by the Constitution can also be divisive, particularly if one party operates from another “constitution” altogether.
Apparently today’s Democrats have not only forgotten this nation fought a bloody war that ended slavery, and passed historic legislation that was intended to correct previous abuses, they’ve misremembered, or more likely have ignored, that condemning an entire society for the offenses of a small and long-gone segment is not justice.
According to a Civil War historian, in the 11 states that seceded from the Union, there were 316,632 individual “slave owners out of a free population of 5,582,222,” which “equals 5.67% of the free population of the confederacy (that) were slave owners.” If we look at families as owners rather than individuals, the rate jumps to 30.8%. Meaning that nearly 70% of Southern families held no slaves. Yet the Democrats want to punish their heirs.
“In the dubious name of justice for groups, injustice would be done to millions of individuals,” says Brookings Institution fellow Jonathan Rauch. Reparations at their core are “fundamentally illiberal, and therefore unjust.”
Punishing a blameless group is nothing new for Democrats. They have shown in just the last few weeks they’re happy to hang a heavy debt on future generations that will have no say in the matter.
Don’t fall for the idea that reparations can be afforded through a modest tax hike. Historian Kirsten Mullen and economist William Darity of Duke University believe “the cost of compensating Americans who descended from slaves for the legacy of bondage and subsequent racial oppression could be as much as $13 trillion,” USA Today reports.
But given how government works, it’s more likely that reparations would cost far more.
As difficult as paying for reparations would be, deciding who should receive the benefits is a nearly impossible chore.
“How should we even define ‘African American,’ given the widespread history of rape during slavery and intermarriage since?” asks the Cato Institute’s Michael Tanner. “Modern research suggests that at least a third of African Americans have at least one white ancestor. Do we want to return to the ‘one drop’ rule?”
Tanner cites the self-contradicting case of Vincene Verdun, a professor emeritus at the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University, who acknowledges she is “the descendant of both slaves and slaveholders, she is both a victim and a wrongdoer.”
Tanner also notes that slavery records are incomplete and inaccurate, making it “difficult to trace ancestry accurately.” The uncertainties “would be an invitation to perpetual litigation.”
Tanner further indicts the shallow thinking behind reparations when he points out that we have in this country the “descendants of free blacks or black immigrants who arrived post‐slavery,” as well as whites who immigrated to America after the Civil War to consider. How do they figure in to the reparations formula?
Enslaving humans is wrong. It was a cruel practice. But nothing done today will erase history. Reparations will not move us forward. They’ll only cause today’s tensions created and fueled by the Democrat-media complex to escalate.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board