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.
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.
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.