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Reparations? For Whom?

On January 25, 2021, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced a bill in the Senate (S.40) intended to address the “injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery” in America. The bill establishes a commission to study slavery and to consider issuing a “national apology and proposal for reparations.” The intended beneficiaries of reparations are “living African Americans” harmed by the previous institution of slavery. This study would cost taxpayers “$12,000,000.”

There are certain assumptions and omissions within the bill. For instance, it assumes only African Americans were the subjects of slavery. It further assumes only whites were slave masters.

In The Peculiar Institution, historian Kenneth Stampp writes, “Not all southern slaves were [Blacks], and not all southern masters were whites.” He adds that by the year 1830, the number of free blacks who owned slaves exceeded thirty-six hundred. In Black Masters, Johnson and Roark narrate the life of William Ellison, a free black who owned slaves. Ellison owned over a hundred slaves in South Carolina for the express purpose of exploiting and profiting from their labor. Senator Booker’s bill makes no mention of this black-on-black tragedy.

Another example to consider is that of Keith Richburg, a reporter for the Washington Post. As a black American, Richburg traveled to Africa in the early 1990s. Violence and genocide were commonplace in that Continent. In Out of America, Richburg writes, “We are told by some supposedly enlightened black leaders that white America owes us something because they brought our ancestors over as slaves. And Africa–Mother Africa–is often held up as a black Valhalla, where the descendants of slaves would be welcomed back and where black men and women can walk in true dignity.” Richburg had traveled to Africa and strongly opposed this view. He writes, “Sorry, but I’ve been there.” He continues, “So excuse me if I sound cynical, jaded. I’m beaten down, and I’ll admit it. And it’s Africa that has made me this way.” Richburg then notes, “Thank God my ancestor got out, because, now, I am not one of them,” meaning a victim of genocide. He concludes, “Thank God that I am an American.” To wit, Richburg is grateful to be an American because America gave him an opportunity to pursue his own interests and forge his own destiny as a free individual. With life so precarious in Africa, he likely might not have been born as his ancestors would have likely perished in that Continent.

Senator Booker’s reparations bill does not consider how the descendants of black slave owners ought to pay reparations to the descendants of the slaves they exploited. The bill also neglects the fact that there were thousands of white indentured servants who labored side by side with black slaves. The most egregious fact conveniently omitted by the bill is that hundreds of thousands of white men died in the Civil War securing freedom for slaves who were in no position to secure it for themselves. It seems these are the heroes owed a national apology. Furthermore, reparations today are a desperate attempt at recovering lost votes from minorities who no longer see themselves as victims and have abandoned the Democratic Plantation and joined the Republican Party. Forcing innocent whites today to pay reparations to non-existent slaves is not only racist but based on revisionist historiography and is thus a complete waste of taxpayer money. With Keynesian economics ruling the day in Washington D.C., and cronyism rampant on Capitol Hill, the vote-buying scheme of reparations ought to go the way of the Whigs, extinct.

Edwin Vazquez

Political commentator, writer, and researcher. Retired Chief Biomedical Engineer and Ph.D. student at Liberty University - Public Policy (Economics). United States Armed Forces veteran and Gulf War veteran.

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5 Comments

  1. If the conversation is about “reparation” to those that were ‘wronged’ by the White men that settled and grew this nation……I would sugget that my ancestors and decendents be included……They were here long before any black suffered under the bondage of slavery. They were slaughtered en masse and driven from their land, crowded onto barren reservations where many starved to death…They are the AMERICAN INDIAN TRIBES.
    Does the good Sen Boooker truly believe that the blacks are so shallow that they can be “bought” like a comodity? Perhaps he believes he is purchasing votes much in the same manner that the slave owners bought and paid for their labor. Shame on him and the ‘leaders’ of other c cities that purpose the same action.

    This entire conversation is a misuse/abuse by the taxpayer’s employees….yes, Senator, you are “just” an employee.

  2. You are correct, Mr. Bruno. What’s more, as scholar Dinesh D’Souza has noted, of the more than 4 million slaves in 1860, 99.9% of them were owned by Democrats. Consequently, America did not do this, Democrats did this. If anyone owes reparations, it is the DNC and complicit Democratic leaders.

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  3. My grandparents came here in the early 1900s, after the slaves were set free. None of them owned slaves. I have never met a slave let alone owned one. We should send a bill to the black communities for reparations to the men and women who died fighting to free the slaves. Then they can show their appreciation to the brave soldiers and women and to offer thanks to their descendants.

    About 2.75 million soldiers fought in the Civil War — 2 million for the North and 750,000 for the South.
    Union Civil War Casualties
    Combat Deaths: Over 110,000
    Other Deaths*: Over 250,000

    Confederate Civil War Casualties
    Combat Deaths: Over 95,000
    Other Deaths*: Over 165,000

    (*Other Deaths include, among others: disease (by far the most common cause of death), accidents, drowning, heat stroke, suicide, murder, execution.)
    https://www.historynet.com/civil-war- casualties#:~:text=Though%20the%20number%20of%20killed%20and%20wounded%20in,between%20640%2C000%20and%20700%2C000.%20Union%20Civil%20War%20Casualties.

    One of the many roles of women in the Civil War was that of a soldier. Due to the fact that women were not allowed to serve in the military at the time, these women disguised themselves as men, cut off their hair and adopted male aliases in order to join the military.
    https://civilwarsaga.com/women-soldiers-in-the-civil-war/

    At the start of the Civil War, some women argued that the war “was as much a woman’s war as it was a man’s war”. Over 21,000 women served in Union military hospitals and a similar number is estimated for the Confederacy, with 10% of those women being African American. However, because many Southerners nursed soldiers in local homes or churches, their service was never entered into the military service and so an exact number is unknown.
    https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/female-nurses-during-civil-war

    There’s plenty more to read about this. Lots of books out there, even online there is much to learn. There are those who should spend time reading history instead of causing trouble because of history. They might learn from former mistakes. Hopefully.

  4. I am a White male of Italian decedent. My ancestors did not come to America until 1906, 41 years AFTER the civil war ended… My ancestors never owned a slave! Why should I be expected to pay reparations out my tax dollars??
    Sorry Sen. Booker slavery was the darkest period of American history, for sure..but i owe nothing because.

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