A couple of years ago the Internal Revenue Service had to remind Americans that the U.S. tax code does not allow for racial reparations. Never has. But the IRS was still getting thousands of returns for billions of dollars in bogus reparation refunds.
Now there’s a more formal campaign – fueled in no small part by academics and attorneys – that seems poised to morph into more of a mainstream movement. Several reparations court cases are currently underway. A couple of Churches – Moravian and Episcopal – recently apologized for having owned slaves. The latter is even looking into the suitability of compensating black members.
So, here we go again.
This is not about justice so much as it is about getting a piece of the action. It is a concept older than slavery itself: something for nothing. The operative color here is green for those enslaved by old-fashioned opportunism. Specifically, cashing in an I.O.U. owed to somebody else.
Moreover, the reparations issue only reinforces a false and counterproductive premise. That is that black Americans can’t make it on their own in this country without playing the victim card for all it’s worth. That should be as patronizing as it is insulting.
And for those who like some irony with their reparations, there’s this historical note. According to the 1860 census, more than 6,000 blacks owned slaves, mostly Indians.
Any of those slave-owner descendents want to step forward and settle ancestral matters with certain native Americans before proceeding on with principled recompense for historical affronts? What’s more, anyone interested in pursuing those related to West African chiefs who sold their tribesmen to the European slave traders?