Slavery reparations are an immoral and illogical proposition

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Slavery reparations are an immoral and illogical proposition

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Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is back in the headlines. In an apparent attempt to bolster her dwindling prospects for the 2020 Democratic nomination for President, last month Warren called for a “full-conversation about reparations” according to Politico. Of course, Warren is referencing reparations for slavery, a proposition that would rip our nation apart at the seams and punish people who had nothing to do with the evil institution, an inherently anti-liberty and deeply immoral proposition.

The entire discussion of reparations for “American” slavery betrays the American notions of individual responsibility and individual repayment, proposing that Americans pay restitution for crimes they had no part in.

In the West, we believe that individuals, and individuals alone, should be prosecuted and punished for the crimes that they commit. In other words, we are not responsible for the sins of our fathers. For example, we believe Rose Bundy bears no burden for her father’s acts of depravity, neither does June Lee Oswald nor do the five children of Harvey Weinstein. Yet, when it comes to the sin of slavery, Warren and proponents of slavery reparations abandon this principle. This is cognitive dissonance of the highest order. 

Slavery was abolished nationwide 153 years ago. We, as a nation, are a full six generations removed from the institution of slavery. Why should anyone be held responsible for crimes they did not commit, let alone crimes that were committed over a century and a half ago?

Proponents of reparations may respond by saying that white Americans have benefitted from a system that was designed to oppress black people specifically, but this argument does not hold when closely examined as it is entirely illogical. Exactly how much of white Americans’ success today is attributable to slavery (which, many scholars have argued kept the Antebellum South in economic ruin for centuries)? 10 percent? 50 percent? 100 percent? 

Surely, immigrants who came to the U.S. after slavery was abolished and when de jure discrimination was contained to the Jim Crow south bear no responsibility. How much should Irish, Italian or Jewish immigrants pay for the sin of slavery? Do proponents of reparations propose we do a nationwide Ancestry DNA test to determine how much we’re responsible for our great-great-great-great grandparents? As you can see, there is no limiting principle in the idea. There is nothing to discern how much an individual today has benefited from slavery. 

The inverse also holds true. There is nothing to discern how much an African-American today is struggling due to slavery, if it all. It is simply untrue to say that the problems the black community faces today are attributable to slavery. For instance, according to Census Bureau statistics, unwed motherhood rates, an undeniable driver of poverty, were substantially lower (25 percent compared to about 75 percent today) during the period time blacks lived under Jim Crow laws, and were also lower during the period directly after the end of the Civil War. Violent crime rates in the black community also follow the same trend, with the homicide rate among blacks nearly quadrupling the national average in a little under 30 years, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics. Is slavery 20 percent responsible for the violent crime rate in 2019? What percentage is slavery responsible for unwed motherhood, gang violence and rampant drug abuse in the black community (the same way that drugs wreak havoc in all communities)?   

That is what makes reparations simply a political battering ram. Politicians like Warren can gin up anger from the African-American community for the terrible things they suffered through centuries ago and provide an easily understood villain to punish today — white people. If that is not racial pandering combined with the bigotry of the lowest expectations possible, I don’t know what is. 

Not only are reparations inconsistent with the tenants of Western Civilization and basic morality, but the implementation of such a policy would solve nothing for the African-American community today. If you believe, as Warren does, that blacks are currently marginalized due to “structural racism,” exactly how do reparations liberate blacks from the oppression of such a system? Reparations would give blacks a little extra cash, not make the “structural racism” that Warren believes in disappear.

In 1965, the same year that the Voting Rights Act was passed finally granting blacks in the South the same legal rights as whites, the rate at which black children were born to unwed mothers stood at 25 percent. Today, even 50 years removed from the end of de jure segregation and discrimination, the illegitimacy rate in the black community clocks in around an astounding 75 percent, according to the CDC. A reasonable person certainly would not believe that blacks are discriminated against anywhere near the amount they were in the 1960s. This evidence is proof positive that slavery and discrimination have nothing to do with the biggest problems black communities face now in America. It’s time politicians tell the American people, and black community specifically the truth-the only person responsible for the outcomes in your life is ultimately yourself. Embracing personal responsibility and not blaming your failures on the past, is the only true way to reach success. 

Forcing Americans in 2019 to pay reparations for slavery would not only fail to solve any problem African-Americans face today, but such an immoral proposition would undoubtedly rip the U.S. apart.

Connect with Nick on Twitter @nsamm41.

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