The Dollars and Sense Answer to Black Reparations

By Tom DeWeese

Over the weekend of Friday, February 2nd, a National Reparations Convention was held in Chicago to draft a plan to see payment for blacks today based on the belief that the nation owes the present generation for the slavery imposed more than a century ago.

Historian and Ebony magazine editor, Lerone Bennett, Jr., says, “We’re not talking about a sentimental argument. We’re talking about the fact that America owes us some money.”

The racism peddlers apparently know no bounds in what is becoming a growth industry. Its leaders like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Randall Robinson are having a great year. According to them, racism is everywhere. When a few dumb people in Florida couldn’t figure out how to use the same voting machines that had been used successfully for years by thousands of others, racism was the charge.

When the Attorney General-designate, John Ashcroft, fought against a federal appointment of a judge because he disagreed with his policies, racism was the charge. When the President put forth a policy to lower the taxes of those who actually pay them, racism was the charge.

Now we find the granddaddy of all racism demagoguery moving from the fringe of lunatic radicals into the realm of so-called serious debate regarding black reparations for slavery. A few years back Jesse Jackson demanded a “Freedom Budget” of $1 billion.

Helping to fuel the Reparations Convention is a book by radical black activist Randall Robinson entitled, “The Debt: What Americans Owe to Blacks.” With 90% of black voters having opposed the election of President Bush, racism peddlers feel they have a better chance than ever to raid the treasury with their reparations agenda.

According to the reparations mantra, the reason blacks don’t prosper in America today is because their ancestors were enslaved more than a century ago. Therefore, black poverty is the white man’s fault. The solution, say the racism crowd, is for whites to pay money to today’s generation of black Americans. Somehow such a check will even the score and apparently make blacks prosperous. This is so transparently bogus that it should fool no one.

Before the process goes too far, let’s consider some facts. Unlike the reparations that were paid to the Japanese-Americans for World War II incarcerations, not a single black alive in America today was ever a slave. Nor is a single living white American today a slave owner. There are no living victims and no living perpetrators of American slavery.

As these demagogues pursue their absurd demand at the taxpayer’s expense, it should not be a free ride with a big payoff. The following deductions should be undertaken, starting first with the entire cost of the American Civil War.

We have all been taught the war was fought to free the slaves.

Second, there should be a deduction for the entire cost of civil rights legislation because those laws have been another strong step toward the repair of the wrong done. In the case of the Civil War, thousands of white men sacrificed their lives. In the case of civil rights legislation, significant costs were incurred to insure equality and to enforce the new laws.

When those costs are tallied, Jesse Jackson’s billion-dollar budget will shrink to the level of absurdity it deserves. This so-called debt has long since been paid and all talk of reparations should be seen for what they really are, the machinations of so-called leaders of the black community to continue to isolate their constituency from moving forward by shedding their past.

Tom DeWeese
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Tom DeWeese is one of the nation’s leading advocates of individual liberty, free enterprise, private property rights, personal privacy, back-to-basics education and American sovereignty and independence.