In Brief: Reparations and Honest History
The Left is totally uncomfortable — indeed outraged — by truthful discussion about slavery.
That video clip of CNN’s Don Lemon getting smacked down by British royals expert Hilary Fordwich was marvelous and quite popular. That’s because it’s a reminder of how foolishly myopic leftists can be when lecturing about history, and especially reparations for the descendants of slaves.
“Which was the first nation in the world that abolished slavery?” Fordwich asked rhetorically. The British. Rather than chasing the royals, she then said, “If reparations need to be paid, we need to go right back to the beginning of that supply chain and say, ‘Who was rounding up their own people and having them handcuffed in cages?’ Absolutely, that’s where they should start.”
The Daily Signal’s Jarrett Stepman picks it up from there:
Discussions about reparations are timely, given the release of “The Woman King,” a Hollywood production that tells the story of a group of 19th-century female African warriors from the kingdom of Dahomey. The movie portrays the protagonists as proto-pan-African liberators fighting imperialism and slavery, but the truth was in many ways quite the opposite.
Dahomey — located in what is now the country of Benin—and other African kingdoms were often enthusiastically pro-slavery. The port city of Anomabo, for instance—which is in present-day Ghana — became a powerful, central hub of the slave trade. Its considerable wealth—built mostly on the trans-Atlantic slave trade—dried up when the British Empire and other Western powers not only turned on the practice of slavery, but used force to bring it to an end.
The near-universal, global practice of slavery — which has dogged civilization throughout its history — mostly came to an end because of the rise and power of the West. Are Ghana and Benin now on the hook to pay reparations?
These thorny issues somehow get glossed over in the debate about historical guilt and culpability. But they suddenly matter, given that the issue has been taken seriously by left-wing policymakers.
Stepman recounts some “serious” proposals from media and political officials before taking apart those proposals for their unworkable natures and almost certain disastrous outcomes. He says:
The question of whether entire groups of people deserve “reparations” is already philosophically dicey. Sure, it might make sense that someone who was enslaved or lost their property due to enslavement would be directly compensated. But what about family members four, five, or six generations removed? …
Legal or not, reparation plans are deeply flawed and often create new injustices in implementation. In the end, they are based on the premise that the only way to get ahead in society is to claim victimhood and shake down your neighbors.
Most Americans outside of our most elite institutions … oppose legal racial preferences and affirmative action. Poll numbers on reparations also show broad majorities against them.
Yet, the top-down woke revolution goes on, and so, we must take reparations proposals both seriously and literally. And reject them.
- Jarrett Stepman
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