Fake History and Redistributing Wealth
Welcome to a primitive notion of “justice”.
Calls for reparations payments for the descendants of slaves and colonized peoples, the “latest obsession of the radical left,” as The Hill puts it, are currently growing, as is the tab. For example, San Francisco is proposing paying $5 million to each black resident, along with a guaranteed income of $97,000 for 250 years, and a home for a dollar. California is proposing cash payments of up to $1.2 million at a cost of $800 billion–three times the state’s annual budget. Not to be left out of the bidding, the Feds are asking for $14 trillion. But sponsor Rep. Cori Bush claims that is nowhere near the $97 trillion owed to blacks for slavery and Jim Crow.
This combination of obsession and grift also has infected England. On the eve of his coronation, Charles III was served a statement from the “commonwealth indigenous leaders.” They called on the new king “to acknowledge the horrific impacts on and legacy of genocide and colonization,” and to “redistribute the wealth that underpins the crown back to the peoples from whom it was stolen.” Given the extent and duration of the British Empire, that tab will no doubt be astronomical.
The rationale for this prohibitively expensive largess is a crude, Orwellian politicized history of the sort the left is famous for. The current proposals are unlikely to happen, but they are nonetheless racist and divisive, a testimony to how badly we are teaching history and civics––despite how dangerous to the public weal such neglect can be.
In practical terms, these schemes have numerous problems. How will eligibility be determined? Will state and federal governments investigate the genealogy of every American to determine if their ancestors were slave-owners? And what about the multiple millions of descendants of immigrants, including ethnic Africans, who came after the Civil War? Just in California there are more than 15 million ethnic Hispanics guiltless of American slavery and Jim Crow segregation.
Other questions abound. Will foreign-born blacks or their descendants be eligible? How about mixed-race Americans? Will the payments be means-tested? Or will the programs rely on “systemic racism” rhetorical sleight-of-hand to avoid these complications? In that view, given that all blacks have suffered, and given that all so-called “white people,” no matter how poor, are born with “white privilege,” all people of pallor should pay. And since tax-revenues will be used to fund the payments, all ethnicities, with their own histories of oppression and injustice, will have to pay their fellow citizens who never suffered slavery.
More important, this fetishizing of American slavery as a unique evil willfully ignores the larger history of slavery. Most pertinent is the question raised by “Royal Watcher” Hilary Fordwich: who supplied the Africans that were sold? As my professor of black history at UCLA said, Europeans didn’t drop from helicopters to snatch up Africans from their homes. Africans and Arabs rounded up the inventory and sold them into slavery. The African king of Dahomey, one of the biggest suppliers of slaves for the Atlantic slave trade in the 17th and 18th centuries, supposedly said that “the slave trade has been the ruling principle of my people. It is the source of their glory and wealth. Their songs celebrate their victories and the mother lulls the child to sleep with notes of triumph over an enemy reduced to slavery.”
Indeed, as Ghanaian professor John Azumah points out, while an estimated 11 million Africans crossed the Atlantic, “a minimum of 28 million Africans were enslaved in the Muslim Middle East. Since at least 80% of those captured by the Muslim slave traders were calculated to have died before reaching the slave markets, it is believed that the death toll from 1,400 years of Arab and Muslim slave raids into Africa could have been as high as 112 million.” Since without the African and Muslim participation in the slave trade it most likely wouldn’t have grown into a global business, why aren’t their descendants responsible for reparations to their enslaved offspring?