To Answer Julian Castro’s Question About Slavery Reparations

6
1352

Because the people who have been slaves have been dead a century:

“If under the Constitution we compensate people because we take their property, why wouldn’t you compensate people who actually were property?” he said.

It’s also true that those who gained the benefit of their being property have also been dead a century. There’s no one alive who suffered directly as a slave, no one alive who gained directly from enslaving.

All of which is a reasonable answer to this:

As to the larger answer about reparations this is the major point:

This lets lies survive even in the words of those fighting against them. After denouncing “genocidal whiteness”, Coates demands “reparations” for slavery. Consider the following thought experiments. – Suppose the US government tells Mr Coates they have just learned he was in fact born in Senegal and adopted as a tiny infant by his US parents, who neglected the relevant legalities – so he is not a US citizen and should depart for his true country. In this thought experiment, Mr Coates’ true parents were not descended from slaves sold to white traders on the West African coast centuries ago. His true ancestors did not suffer from “genocidal whiteness”. How much money would Mr Coates spend on lawyers and investigators to overturn this assessment? How much money would Mr Coates pay to reacquire the legacy for which he says he should be paid?

– As another way of asking the same thing, suppose a powerful witch offers to wave her magic wand over Mr Coates. His ancestors’ past will be changed. The “genocidal whiteness” that has affected that past will be expunged. At every moment when one of his ancestors was about to be pushed onto a white trader’s ship – at every moment when the white western world was about to impinge upon them – they will instead be among the unselected, remaining in Africa. As a special bonus, the witch will ensure that they are not instead sent into the King of Dahomey’s murder spectacle, nor have their eyes gouged out by the Bemba, nor die entertaining the Ashanti, nor be eaten by a cannibal tribe. They will instead live to give rise to Ta-Nehisi Coates, still himself, but now a slave-descended citizen of Senegal from whose past all “genocidal whiteness” has been erased. How much would Mr Coates pay the witch not to wave her wand? It seems so superfluous to point out that the sums Mr Coates would pay (in these hypothetical examples) to keep his heritage are the sums he should pay, not be paid, if his agitation for reparations ever overcame the many better, more fundamental reasons against it.

The descendants of slaves in the United States are better off than the descendants of not-slaves in West Africa.

What reparations, for what?

6
Leave a Reply

avatar
4 Comment threads
2 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
5 Comment authors
Leo SavantttimworstallTristram FullerQ46GR8M8S Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
GR8M8S
Guest
GR8M8S

My late Mother had an uncle who was born in the Boer Concentration camps. Weaned on Afrikaaner nationalism he never spoke English in his long life and was also disdainful of Australians, Canadians and Kiwis who answered Empire’s call and sided with the British. When this bigoted skeleton in my closet came to light in my late teenage years, my then socialist ‘friends’ subtly turned against me. Invitations to our regular socialist soirees, where we would furtively read Marx and Lenin (Not Mao, as he was considered beyond [the] pale), stopped. I became an Other. I believe I am due… Read more »

Q46
Guest
Q46

When someone wrongly convicted and imprisoned is pardoned and released, they are due compensation. This is calculated according to set criteria, how long they were incarcerated, loss of possible earnings,etc then a deduction is made for the cost of board and lodgings whilst in prison. So if reparations are to be made for the decendents of American slaves, deductions should be made. The cost of the Civil War would be a good place to start, then education, healthcare, other welfare, to date. Then those Africans in Africa whose ancestors sold other Africans into slavery and cooperated in the capture and… Read more »

Tristram Fuller
Guest
Tristram Fuller

Also what about the Native Americans – they had all their land taken so surely they are owed too?

Leo Savantt
Guest
Leo Savantt

Approximately half a million slaves were shipped from almost exclusively West Africa to what is now the USA, the vast majority were already slaves and were purchased by the slave traders from those who had enslaved them, Africans. Approximately one and a bit million Europeans were kidnapped, enslaved and shipped to in large part Africa. Why are there few or no descendants of these European slaves in Africa as opposed to the USA where a descendant of the slaves became President? The answer is that many of the European male slaves were castrated and the females murdered if they became… Read more »

timworstall
Guest
timworstall

“Why are there few or no descendants of these European slaves in Africa as opposed to the USA where a descendant of the slaves became President? The answer is that many of the European male slaves were castrated and the females murdered if they became pregnant.” Really unsure where that comes from. Castration – and murder if pregnant – were not commonplaces against European or Christian slaves. Working to death in the galleys maybe. The castration was very much a commonplace of those sub-Saharan Africans who were moved north in the Arab slave trade. And Obama wasn’t descended from ex-slaves,… Read more »

Leo Savantt
Guest
Leo Savantt

I concede the point on Obama, he was not personally descended from a slave, although in the American cultural mind he is associated with slavery, despite the fact of his maternity. On the issue of castration I beg to differ. Slaves were routinely castrated in both the Maghreb and Ottoman worlds. The eunuch was often preferred as he insured that no infidel blood could pollute the blood line, especially as many of the wealthier owners tried or indeed did claim to be direct descendants of the Profit. In many cases only eunuch infidels were allowed to serve as slaves in… Read more »