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White Man’s Duty
There's a better way than reparations.


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Jonah Goldberg

Well, David Horowitz’s anti-reparations spiel has gotten him on the front page of the Washington Post style section and made campus leftists look extremely stupid, so it looks like it was all worth it.

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It’s been worthwhile for me, too. While I haven’t been featured in any national publications because of this controversy, I did write a column — favoring reparations if it would put all of this race consciousness behind us — which taught me a thing or two. First, I learned that some people are incapable of reading between the lines. More important, I came to the conclusion that money is an insufficient instrument for the task before us.

Indeed, in a sense, “white” America has already paid more than the much-discussed figure of $100,000 per African American. Consider for a moment that the war on poverty was often discussed in terms of reparations. Michael Harrington, whose book, The Other America launched the War on Poverty, wrote eloquently about how welfare was “compensation,” an instrument of “justice, not charity.”

Later, certain voices within the National Welfare Rights Organization were hardly mute in their belief that the government owed large cash payments to the poor, primarily African Americans, and that welfare was a kind of reimbursement for past wrongs. George Wiley, the head of NWRO, coined a slogan: “Welfare is a right, not a privilege.”

Then, when you factor in affirmative action, set-asides, other race-targeted programs as well as the myriad endowments and foundations aimed at helping blacks — established by the same white European plutocrats allegedly the most to blame for slavery’s legacy — and it’s pretty easy to see that more than $100,000 per capita has been spent in ameliorative aid to African Americans by “white America.”

(Of course, it is disgusting to talk about a “white” America in this sense, but as blacks would be the only people to receive cash payments, non-black taxpayers do seem to get lumped willy-nilly in the “white” category).

So even though $100,000 in redistributionist justice has already been spent, it’s now clear that it wasn’t enough — otherwise nobody would be calling for more. Indeed, this raises the question of whether money is even the answer. Perhaps mere lucre cannot make amends for past injustices. Perhaps there is a more concrete way that we can compensate for the past.

Along those lines, here are some suggestions for another way to go.

  • Until as recently as the 1950s and 1960s, it was impossible for blacks to eat in most, if any, white restaurants. If a white person wanted to eat with a black person, the only sure bet was a Chinese restaurant because they served everybody. So, for a period of ten years, starting Jan. 1, 2002, blacks will be permitted to bump white diners from their reservations.
  • Again, as recently as the ’50s and ’60s, blacks could not get reservations at most hotels — even star performers playing the Las Vegas hotels couldn’t stay at the hotels they were singing at (witness Sammy Davis Jr.’s account). As with the restaurants, blacks will be allowed to preempt whites’ reservations for a period of ten years.
  • Wherever there are lines, whether at airline counters, supermarket checkouts, Motor Vehicles Bureaus, OTBs, movie theaters, and hospitals, blacks will be able to move ahead of whites. But this will only be for a period of seven years, because that is a more reasonable number.
  • On all public transportation, such as buses, where the up-front seats are reserved for handicapped or elderly passengers, they will also be reserved for blacks if no other seats are available. (Whether a black with no disability could ask a disabled white to get up and give him his seat still has to be worked out.) With the handicapped, however, disabled blacks will always take precedence over disabled whites in entitlement to the seats. This will be for a period of ten years.
  • In universities, black applicants will continue to jump to the head of the line for the next ten years.
  • In municipal contracting, blacks will continue to jump to the head of the line for the next 14 years.
  • All children’s action figures will be black, especially “Barbie.”
  • In the service industries, all white bellhops, drivers, doormen, waiters, etc., will be addressed by African Americans with condescension. Black patrons will use terms like “boy” or address staffers with names such as “Reginald” or “Finster” — regardless of the worker’s real name. Meanwhile all blacks in the same occupations will always be greeted with “Mister” or “Sir.” This will go on for precisely twelve years.
  • For a period not less than 15 years, in all cop-buddy movies, the white partner will die early in the film and the black police officer will avenge his friend’s death. Similarly, blond WASPs must be killed first in all horror and slasher films.
  • African Americans will be entitled to a free second drink at all bars to make amends for all of the times in the past when they were turned away. Technically, the first drink should be free, but that would result in blacks simply walking in for a free beer and leaving — something privileged whites were never able to do. Second drinks will be on the house for ten years.
  • In all future games of “Simon Says” black children will get one free flinch.
  • All words and phrases that use “black” as a pejorative will be replaced with the word “white.” Whitemail, “white humor,” “the White Death,” “whiteball,” “whiteguard,” “whitelist,” etc. will become the new standard. What to do about such things as the office product “White Out” will be settled in arbitration.

Of course, this is only a partial list of the very tangible changes we can make as a society. But certainly this is a good start. Yes, there will be some practical difficulties with implementation. But why wait for the recalcitrant and hard-hearted? Those who feel so moved — whites and blacks alike — shouldn’t tarry while racists and government bureaucrats fiddle. You can do your part now.



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