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Douglas Andrews / March 23, 2021

Evanston Goes for Reparations

A tony Midwestern college town with an abundance of white guilt leads the way toward reparations for slavery.

It was only a matter of time. As repulsive as the idea of reparations sounds, we knew that someday, some leftist college town somewhere — whether Ann Arbor, or Cambridge, or Madison, or Berkeley — would sign on to atone for America’s original sin. Never mind that it’s a sin that no living American was either guilty of or subject to.

The idea itself, as author David Horowitz put it in his 2002 book, Uncivil Wars: The Controversy Over Reparations for Slavery, is both morally questionable and racially incendiary. And the 10-point case he made against reparations nearly two decades ago has aged remarkably well. But since when did bullet-proof logic ever stop a gaggle of do-gooding leftists?

And so, “The Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois,” as CBS News reports, “is about to become the first U.S. city to make reparation money available to Black residents. Part of a growing movement that has picked up speed in the wake of police killings of Black Americans including George Floyd last year, the decision by Evanston officials could also lay the groundwork for other municipalities and states considering reparations.”

Evanston is tony and scenic and is situated on the shore of Lake Michigan, 30 minutes north of Chicago. The city’s black population is around 16%. In addition to being the nation’s reparations trailblazer, Evanston is home to Northwestern University, which boasts the lowest acceptance rate (8%) and highest annual tuition costs ($56,691) in the Big Ten Conference. We suspect Evanston is also home to one of the white-guiltiest city councils in America — a council that CBS reports voted 8-1 last night “to start with an expenditure of $400,000 to give 16 eligible Black households $25,000 each to be spent on home repairs or down payments on property.” Who pays? “Funded by a new tax on legalized marijuana, the council previously committed $10 million over 10 years to repairing the ongoing harm that systemic racism has caused Evanston’s Black residents, with the housing initiative its first step.”

A “first step”? Perhaps just a down payment? That would make sense, given that $25 grand is chump change compared to the reparations tab calculated last year by three college professors: $6.2 quadrillion. That’s a six and a two followed by 14 zeroes. Or, to put it in a way that drives home the fiscal enormity of that number, if we were to divide 6,200,000,000,000,000 one-dollar bills into 16 even stacks, each of those stacks would reach the moon.

White folks, then, are getting off pretty cheap. At least so far.

If anything good can be said of the Evanston measure, it’s the targeted nature of the giveaway and the specified way in which it can be spent. And if you’re wondering about all the other black residents of the city, the criteria for inclusion were also pretty specific. As National Review reports, “Residents who have either lived in or been a direct descendant of a black person who lived in Evanston between 1919 to 1969 and who suffered discrimination in housing because of city ordinances, policies or practices will be eligible to receive the funds.”

How do Evanston residents feel about it, and will they be inclined to take it out on their elected representatives? We’ll find out next election cycle.

As for that lone “no” vote: No, it didn’t come from a principled opponent of reparations. It came from Alderwoman Cicely Fleming, who didn’t think the measure went far enough and instead called it a housing program masquerading as reparations. She also sees some progressive paternalism in the handout. “True reparations,” she said, “should respect Black people’s autonomy and allow them to determine how repair will be managed, including cash payments as an option. They are being denied that in this proposal, which gives money directly to the banks or contractors on their behalf.”

Our nation’s first half-black president, Barack Obama, blames whites for our nation’s failure to enact reparations nationally, but at least he can no longer blame the good white wokesters of Evanston. And perhaps, with our nation’s most “progressive” cities leading the way, Obama will one day run out of other people to blame.

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