We Have To Talk About Reparations
(Photo above a screenshot from the Disney Proud Family pro-reparations cartoon.)
I wrote earlier today about the H-bomb that the Catholic bishop Thomas Paprocki has dropped on the US Catholic Church, by publicly accusing Cardinal Robert McElroy of heresy. (Paprocki is right, seems to me.) The Catholic Church has tried hard, and reasonably so, to avoid open conflict among its bishops, but the effect of that has been that progressive bishops have gone far beyond what is possible if the Catholic Church is to hold together. Paprocki apparently had had enough of being silent about something really destructive, seeing surrender, and the loss of something important, in the unwillingness to speak out in the face of the destruction wrought by men like Cardinal McElroy.
We may be getting to a similar reckoning on the question of race. I haven't written anything about the Scott Adams controversy because I haven't known what to say. He was dumb for having said what he did, both in the content (well, most of it) and in the imprudence of saying it. The Washington Post wrote:
The once widely celebrated Adams, who has been entertaining extreme-right ideologies and conspiracy theories for several years, was upset Wednesday by a Rasmussen poll that found a thin majority of Black Americans agreed with the statement “It’s okay to be White” — a phrase sometimes associated with racist memes.
“If nearly half of all Blacks are not okay with White people … that’s a hate group,” Adams said on his live-streaming YouTube show. “I don’t want to have anything to do with them. And I would say, based on the current way things are going, the best advice I would give to White people is to get the hell away from Black people … because there is no fixing this.”
Adams, 65, also blamed Black people for not “focusing on education” during the show and said, “I’m also really sick of seeing video after video of Black Americans beating up non-Black citizens.”
Outrage always follows these days. It follows everything. I think Adams overreacted foolishly, but I don't think he's wrong to be offended by the fact that a substantial minority of black Americans believe there's something wrong with being white. (If you look at the crosstabs, though, you'll see that 7 percent of whites surveyed agreed!) What do you expect, though, in a culture where something like this is normalized, and treated as praiseworthy by the news and entertainment media:
And in which major institutions openly discuss the entire DEI/"antiracism" thing is about taking power away from white people on the basis of race, and giving it to black people on the basis of race:
At some point, something's going to break. The reparations thing might well be that point. The Washington Post reports on how the city of San Francisco is thinking of paying black residents $5 million each in reparations. San Francisco had no slavery, but it's not about slavery; it's about what liberals do:
The proposed reparations program is not a recompense for slavery, which was never legal in San Francisco, but instead, the committee’s report says, for “the public policies explicitly created to subjugate Black people in San Francisco by upholding and expanding the intent and legacy of chattel slavery.”
The cost of California’s statewide reparations is estimated to be $569 billion. The state’s annual budget is roughly half that amount, at $268 billion. Making things even more difficult, the state faces a $22.5 billion deficit and is seeking spending cuts to cover the shortfall.
This may not be a bill that can be politically postponed, given past statements by the governor and other Democratic politicians.
That leads to the question of such programs’ constitutionality. Even after the political approval of payments, it is not clear that this money will ever be paid.
Because in part, it's probably unconstitutional, the law prof explains. More:
Democratic politicians have insisted for years that reparations are essential to address systemic racism. But politicians like Gov. Newsom now face demands to put their money where their mouths have been. The years of calls for reparations have created a greater expectation, even an urgency. One well-known California activist declared: “It’s a debt that’s owed, we worked for free. We’re not asking; we’re telling you.”
That expectation is reflected in recent polling, showing a massive shift in the Black community on the question: 77 percent of Black Americans now support reparations — but, overall, nearly seven-in-ten (68 percent) of all respondents oppose such payments.
Thus, after defining reparations as a moral obligation, politicians may find it difficult to say this is an inopportune moment.
Democratic politicians, academics, the media, all have created a situation in which more than three out of four black American believe they are entitled to money that will never be paid. And because we have all been living in a media environment in which you have to watch every syllable you say lest you get on the wrong side of the "correct" racial divide, it's hard to discuss the morality and practicality of reparations.
As a collectivity, the U.S. does not owe anyone anything by virtue of them having a certain skin color or because of the experience of their ancestors. This of course in no way is meant to minimize either the reality of slavery or subsequent anti-black discrimination in American history. It is to say that this sort of racial score settling is ultimately both impossible to do justly, and even if it were, attempting to put a price on it would cause far more problems than it solves.
For example, Jews have been discriminated against badly in American society and so have Asian Americans—but both are extremely successful groups overall. Jews make up today approximately 1/3 of the 400 richest Americans despite being just 2% of the population. Asian Americans have the highest average income of any ethnic group. Are we going to hand Jewish surgeons or Asian lawyers reparations because their ancestors suffered very real discrimination in America?
And of course, by many measures, the African American population itself is already very successful. As a recent article in Deutsche Welle put it, “America is home to the biggest group of wealthy, highly successful Black people in the world.” It also has a large middle class which, depending on definition, constitutes anywhere from 1/3 to 2/3 of the African American population.
How crazy is the San Francisco proposal? Well:
In the San Francisco plan, reparations start with a $5 million per person payment that would cost an absolute minimum of $100 billion, and could easily be several times that. This will go to a population that barely existed in San Francisco before 1940, when black people comprised 0.8% of the local population.
The report also calls for a 250-year program to guarantee an income of $97,000 per year to low-income black residents and loan forgiveness that “clears all educational, personal, credit card, payday loans, etc.” It demands that blacks receive below-market rate housing, demands refinancing existing black-owned mortgage loans, exempts blacks from payroll and property taxes, allows black residents to purchase their public housing “with a $1 buy-in,” funds tuition assistance for blacks, eliminates their student loan debt, and provides free therapy for black SFUSD kids and teachers.
Again, this is politically impossible, and probably legally impossible. But if you lead black people -- or other ethnic groups -- to think that the only reason they aren't getting this is RACISM, you are setting up a future of deep hatred.
As Carl points out, the same logic being used in the crackpot San Francisco proposal can be used to justify reparations to any minority group -- which is why they're now talking about, I kid you not, "gay reparations." It's about taking money from straight white people, and redistributing it to others for no reason other than they are of a particular favored race or sexual orientation. If you think straight white people are going to stand by and let leftist grifters pick their pockets, you had better get your head out of ... the air. One more quote from Carl:
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Does America want mass interracial score settling forever, or does it want something resembling a functioning multi-ethnic democracy? How we deal with demands for reparations will determine what vision of America’s future lies before us.
Read it all. It's important. We have a very important collective decision in front of us. Not talking about it directly out of fear of conflict, or fear of anything else, is not going to make it go away.
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