Go Read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Article. Right NOW.

Yes, John and Anne Laurie have already linked and recommended it.  Go read it if you haven’t already, and if you have, let it marinate in your mind and read it again.  It’s a long read and you’ll find new things.

Open Thread.

ETA–Thanks, Cleek, and burnspbesq for the link and reminder to do basic front-pager stuff.

149 replies
  1. 1
    Manyakitty says:

    I’ve been nibbling away at it since last night. So much to take in.

  2. 2
    SuperHrefna says:

    Yes sir!

  3. 3
    SatanicPanic says:

    Watch the videos too!

  4. 4
    JoyfulA says:

    #1 on Twitter trend at the moment.

  5. 5
    cleek says:

    in case anyone else is wondering where this piece is:


  6. 6
    BGinCHI says:

    Why is Oklahoma so bossy?

  7. 7
    burnspbesq says:

    The man’s name is Coates, not Coate. Get that apostrophe squared away.

    /grammar FSGT

  8. 8
    Belafon says:

    I’ll have to read it at home. At the NY mag article that AL also quoted, someone left this quote:

    I have a great idea. Let’s have the government intervene to invalidate even the most innocuous “racist” activities.

    The only thing that keeps me from responding to him is I don’t have a login there. He doesn’t see a need to fix the issue because he totally misses the point: In this case there is only so much the government can do; if people aren’t going to see that they need to do something, we will still have issues 50 years from now.

  9. 9
    Cephalus Max says:


  10. 10
    Hill Dweller says:

    @Belafon: I guarantee that dipshit thinks the only racism is ‘reverse racism’.

  11. 11
    Belafon says:

    I learned a little from the Newsmax article about the Pope, but the timing is kind of interesting. Due to an infection when he was younger, Francis had part of one lung removed. Now, the fact that people are speculating on his health after his recent declarations is interesting. Of course he’s pushing himself: He’s got a lot of crap to clean up.

  12. 12
    Belafon says:

    @Hill Dweller: You are most likely correct.

  13. 13
    Tractarian says:

    Don’t tell me what to do.

  14. 14
    daveNYC says:

    Only (ha!) problem with reparations is that once you hand over the cash money, chance are that most of the country will think “OK, we’re square now.” and then start asking very pointed questions about why they’re continuing their affirmative action and other anti-discrimination programs (such as they are) if they’re already handed over cash money.

    Sure, reparations might lead to a major change in American attitudes towards racism a la Germany and the Holocaust, but I really don’t see that happening.

  15. 15
    Belafon says:

    @daveNYC: Which is why Coates’ wrote:

    [T]he crime with which reparations activists charge the country implicates more than just a few towns or corporations. The crime indicts the American people themselves, at every level, and in nearly every configuration. A crime that implicates the entire American people deserves its hearing in the legislative body that represents them.

    John Conyers’s HR 40 is the vehicle for that hearing. No one can know what would come out of such a debate. Perhaps no number can fully capture the multi-century plunder of black people in America. Perhaps the number is so large that it can’t be imagined, let alone calculated and dispensed. But I believe that wrestling publicly with these questions matters as much as—if not more than—the specific answers that might be produced. An America that asks what it owes its most vulnerable citizens is improved and humane. An America that looks away is ignoring not just the sins of the past but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future. More important than any single check cut to any African American, the payment of reparations would represent America’s maturation out of the childhood myth of its innocence into a wisdom worthy of its founders.

  16. 16
    Rob in CT says:

    Just read it. It’s powerful. It does end a bit oddly… it sort of just trails off. It feels like the conclusion is in the 2nd to last paragraph. The last paragraph feels out of order.

    Other than that: yeah, it’s fuckin’ heavy. And what he’s asking for is a very, very heavy lift. Even if we were to ignore every single Republican in the country, it would be a heavy lift.

    And he knows it full well. Hence the “blue period.”

    Anyway, fantastic stuff from Coates, as usual.

  17. 17
    Botsplainer says:

    This is where affirmative action got lost in the weeds.

  18. 18
    Lee says:

    Don’t tell me what to do!!!

    (gets bored)

    mmmm..maybe I could get that article…

    HOLY SHIT! That is an incredible article.The front-pagers should tell everyone to read the damn article!!

  19. 19
    SatanicPanic says:

    I like that Coates spends a good deal of the article talking about housing. Housing is one area where literally (for reals,literally) our cities have been shaped by racism. It took money and resources that could have gone to better schools, better city services, to build out those suburbs. Ever get off the freeway in a big city and notice you’re surrounded by brown people? That’s because no one cared enough about their neighborhood to not destroy it with bigass freeway.

    It’s also, to me, an area that we should be able to fix a lot easier than trying to promote color-blindness or some vague idea like that.

  20. 20
    different-church-lady says:

    @daveNYC: Isn’t that what a lot of them already think?

  21. 21
    rikyrah says:

    Issa’s War on the Post Office continues.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Millions of Americans would no longer get mail delivered to their door but would have to go to communal or curbside boxes instead under a proposal advancing through Congress.

    The Republican-controlled House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on an 18-13 party-line vote, approved a bill Wednesday to direct the U.S. Postal Service to convert 15 million addresses over the next decade to the less costly, but also less convenient delivery method.

    Democrats objected to the plan, and efforts in recent years to win its adoption have failed. “I think it’s a lousy idea,” Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., said. Other lawmakers said it wouldn’t work in urban areas where there’s no place on city streets to put banks of “cluster boxes” with separate compartments for each address. People with disabilities who have difficulty leaving their homes could get waivers, and people who still want delivery to their door could pay extra for it — something Lynch derided as “a delivery tax.”


  22. 22
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    It took the US 42 years to acknowledge the wrongs done to Japanese Americans in the early days of WWII. That’s a long time to come to grips with something so obviously and tragically un-American. While not trying in any way to diminish the the wrongs done to those Americans, the wrongs done to black Americans are orders of magnitude greater. The effects of those wrongs are pervasive right down to today and tomorrow yet I doubt that America will ever be able to own up to them and offer reparations. And don’t even get me started on attempting to get reparations through our current Congress.

  23. 23
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Rob in CT: I think the more you learn about this stuff the less solutions you have that don’t involve creating bullet-point lists that don’t end up making for very good reading. I deleted part of my own comment a minute ago because I thought- nah, no one wants my bullet points

  24. 24
  25. 25
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:


    I’ll support the implementation of cluster boxes and paying additional fees to have mail delivered to your door right after the USPS starts charging the rugged individualists in Alaska what it costs to deliver the mail up there.

  26. 26
    PaulW says:



    If you have questions and comments, NOW IS THE TIME! GO! GOOOO! THIS IS YOUR MOMENT ARTHUR PEWTY!

  27. 27
    PaulW says:

    Oh SH-T. He says it’s Uncurated. That means it’s OPEN open… as in no moderators.

    Watch out for trolls.

  28. 28
    Lymie says:

    I find it so painful to read that I had to stop!! I need a happy ending…. nuts.

  29. 29
    lukeallen1 says:

    I see wr0ng way Cole is back to his usual negative self showing his Republican DNA again. Concern trolling the Clintons while blowing wet kisses (although a little more veiled) towards fat bastard KhrisKristie.

  30. 30

    On a smaller scale.

    Being a Pedestrian While Black.


    A study at the crosswalk: African Americans wait longer, more cars pass through before one stops for the pedestrian to cross at the crosswalk.

  31. 31
    Seth Owen says:

    It ends a little odd, it’s true, but this is one of the most powerful things I have ever read. I always dismissed talk of reparations as wild and impractical. It is too strong to say he changed my mind. But I am listening now.

  32. 32
    LanceThruster says:

    I remember seeing a PBS special on redlining and the AA community. For all Cliven Bundy’s bloviating on “the Negro,” he fails to comprehend that his demographic was able to retain the wealth from the fruits of their own labor and pass it down through the generations. African American produced great wealth but saw no gain from it, and even after emancipation, continued to be hobbled by a system that went out of its way to abuse them.

  33. 33
    Botsplainer says:


    I always felt that affirmative action as a social program was reparative in nature, and should have been persistently sold that way, loudly. This would have addressed issues of justice and fair play in the public mind.

    Even when I was cavorting with wingnuts, I thought the Confederates sucked ass and had no problems with affirmative action, as I recognized that minor skills and education differences were systemically used to elevate legacies over similarly talented but less connected black folks.

  34. 34
    Ben Cisco says:

    It was an absolutely devastating read.

    Every single myth ever perpetrated against Black America was DESTROYED outright.

    The lies used against us TO THIS DAY.

    Even the tried and true tactic of using us against ourselves was laid bare.

    NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING escaped his notice or mention.

  35. 35
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @SatanicPanic: Housing is also the biggest area where Northerners can’t just pin all this on white Southerners being racists. Blacks fled the South for a reason, but it’s all connected.

  36. 36
    Randy P says:

    I’m thinking that since this is a keeper, I’ll buy the dead tree edition at the newsstand tonight if this article is in it.

    Germany has been very successful at acknowledging and then moving beyond Nazism. Our approach to Civil War healing has been the one adopted in the late 19th century, where we say the confederates were honorably fighting for their country and we ignore the whole slavery thing.Since that approach has left scars, resentment, anger on all sides (ESPECIALLY the confederates) and continues to prevent us from being a unified nation over 100 years later, I’d say TNC is right that we maybe need to tell ourselves a different story.

  37. 37
    daveNYC says:


    More important than any single check cut to any African American, the payment of reparations would represent America’s maturation out of the childhood myth of its innocence into a wisdom worthy of its founders.

    That’s a pretty damn optimistic take on the potential outcome. More likely it will be taken as a chance to put all this racism garbage behind us because everything is good now. I mean look, they cashed the check, everything is fine now.

    We’ve already got jagoffs saying we live in a ‘post-racial’ America. I think reparations would only dial that up to eleven.

    Talking about reparations and using them to bring up the insane amount of shit that AA’s have had to deal with over the last couple of centuries might be useful, but I think that just too much of the population will simply tune that out.

  38. 38
    Roger Moore says:


    I need a happy ending…. nuts.

    If we want a happy ending, we need to make it; I think that’s one of the core issues Coates is pointing out.

  39. 39

    Here’s one of our local wingnuts that believes he was targeted by the wildfires due to his patriotic beliefs. Nice tank top, dude.

  40. 40
    Kylroy says:

    I read his arguments at the end , and just have to ask ” and the white majority in America will agree to this because…?”

    The evidence supporting global warming is even clearer than that supporting Coates’ argument (and the damage done by ignoring it is demonstrably catastrophic), but we can’t get shit done about it. And global warming doesn’t even tell people that the country they love is based on lies and theft.

  41. 41
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Absolutely. It goes for the west too. I read Warmth of Other Suns on his recommendation and it put a serious damper on my California boosterism to read the parts about how a black doctor arrived to his new home in LA to find the palm tree in his front yard on fire. I’d known about that stuff from my mother, who lived in LA during the white flight and the Watts Riots, but I needed to be reminded. What white supremacists did to Oakland was even worse.

  42. 42
    Kylroy says:

    @daveNYC: I guess, again from the perspective of the white majority – what magnitude of payment could possibly be considered recompense for all the horrible things done to black people by the US government, it’s forebears, and it’s citizens?

    And if it’s not recompense, if it doesn’t somehow let white people say “we’re square now”…what exactly do white people (still projected to be the majority of the US until 2042) have to gain from it?

  43. 43
    burnspbesq says:


    Watch out for trolls.

    Gonna be Trollapalooza.

  44. 44
    burnspbesq says:


    I sometimes think Escondido is the capital of Moron America. But then I remember that Bakersfield still exists.

  45. 45
    scav says:

    Housing and Education — aren’t those two of those magic self-levitating things that everyone is supposed to be pulling themselves up by? Forced saving. Ring any bells? And if things, houses, etc.are constantly jerked away, remind me of the incentive to save, another one of those revered self-levitating habits. And looky exactly what steps have been greased and in what unexpected directions. And the worst active perpetrators are loud in tuttery about the failure to rise despite all theory. Not that the passive enablers should self-congratulate.

  46. 46
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Botsplainer: I’m not sure that selling it that way would have made it any more popular. I think the biggest problem with affirmative action was that we didn’t make it possible for many of the minorities who benefited from it to retain their wealth. I mean, it’s great to have a have a job, but if you get stuck in some segregated part of the city with bad schools and high crime, it’s kind of a hollow victory.

  47. 47

    @burnspbesq: LOL burnsy. We semi-lovingly refer to it as Escondildo.

  48. 48
    SatanicPanic says:

    @burnspbesq: Some great music came out of Bakersfield; I think we can come up with dumber parts of California. I nominate Oceanside.

  49. 49
    burnspbesq says:

    Love the newsmax headline in the right margin: “D’Souza: Prosecutors Singled Me Out.”

    Well, yeah, Dinesh, that’s kinda what their job description says they should do: single out people who committed crimes and drop the fucking hammer on them. Would you rather that ol’ Preet just randomly snatch tourists off the street in Midtown and throw them in the MDC, just for shits and giggles?

  50. 50
    MikeJ says:


    Some great music came out of Bakersfield; I think we can come up with dumber parts of California

    Great music and dumbness often go hand in hand.

  51. 51

    @SatanicPanic: As a former O’sider, I support your nomination. Saw so many strange things in our time living there.

  52. 52
    burnspbesq says:


    I’m inclined to give Oceanside a pass because you have to control for the effects of proximity to Pendleton.

    How about Corona? Can we agree on Corona?

  53. 53
    Belafon says:

    @daveNYC: I don’t think it’s quite as optimistic as you think, because we have to get to that first step: Talking about how much we as American’s owe the African American community. That’s sort of like “Once you jump the Grand Canyon, the landing’s pretty simple.” If it were so simple to have this conversation, we would have had it already.

  54. 54
    Elizabelle says:


    TNC’s got a reminder up to observe The Atlantic’s commenting guidelines.

    It’s a threaded discussion.

    I HATE threaded format. Greatly prefer the open one here; more skimmable.

  55. 55
    SatanicPanic says:

    @burnspbesq: Never been there, and only met one person from there, a guy in my freshman class at UC and I gotta say, if that dude represented the smart people of Corona, that place must really have something wrong with it

  56. 56
    SatanicPanic says:

    @ranchandsyrup: Isn’t O’side the beach version of Klantee- i.e. lots of skinheads?

  57. 57
    Rob in CT says:

    Coates has a blog post up explaining why he’s come to this view. It’s worth a read too.

    The housing policy stuff – which is *critical* to this – is something I knew nothing about prior to reading Coates. I knew enough about the Civil War to reject the Lost Cause before reading him (though reading him hammered it home Right Good, and led me to read McPherson and Foner), but the housing stuff was really eye-opening.

    Talk about the whole damn deck being stacked against you. Jim Crow in the South, the ghetto in the North.

  58. 58
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Randy P:

    The Dunning School of thought about Reconstruction and the Civil War still holds a lot of sway, even though people have spent decades trying to discredit it. Look at how many people still try to claim that slavery was a minor factor in the war even though the Confederate states themselves said in their secession documents that it was about maintaining slavery.

  59. 59

    @SatanicPanic: There were a bunch of them in our neighborhood and a lot of military. Some of the military guys were the klan dudes.
    O’side is the honey badger of cities. They do not give a fuck. No animal control. Infrequent infrastructure like sidewalks. Shoot, Carlsbad incorporated just to avoid Oceanside annexing the land.

  60. 60
    JPL says:

    @Mnemosyne: Give thanks to St. Ronny for doing away with the fairness doctrine. Talk radio hosts can now say whatever they want. I had to tell a friend who happens to be black, to look at the state secession papers before she spouts what she heard on talk radio.

  61. 61
    Elmo says:


    I was about to jump in and recommend my hometown of Santee (raised there from toddlerhood to age 29) as being dumber than Escondido or O’side, and then I read your comment and it took me a second to realize what you meant.

    Ha! Never heard it called that before. But now that I live back East, nobody believes me when I talk about cross-burnings when I was a kid.

  62. 62
    metricpenny says:


    Give me the money, and you can keep your affirmative action and other programs.

    If I’m flush, racist can do what they’re going to do anyway. I just want the financial ability to obtain what me and my fellow black americans have been shut out of enjoying for centuries.

  63. 63
    The Tragically Flip says:

    The brilliance in how the injustices he outlines are mostly post-slavery and largely about people who are still alive, but whose lives and hapiness were significantly diminished through racism.

    That alone allows you to know who among those reacting badly to it didn’t read it, because they’re the ones going “I never owned any slaves, why should I pay reparations, hurr durr?”

  64. 64

    @Elmo: I hear Santucky a lot.

  65. 65
    Cacti says:


    I was about to jump in and recommend my hometown of Santee

    You misspelled Klantee.

  66. 66
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @SuperHrefna: Damn, I have to lecture the fucking civilian slime all the time.

    DO NOT CALL Soonergrunt “Sir”. He was a non-commissioned officer. He worked for a living in the Army, he did not push paper around like the people you are SUPPOSED to call “Sir”. Don’t call Cole “Sir” either. It’s insulting.

    People like me and Omnes, for example, you’d call “Sir”.

    Thank you, end rant.

    Oh, and go read it despite the poor nomenclature.

  67. 67
    Archon says:

    On the one hand I agree with Coates that the, “lift all boats”, economic philosophy pushed by Obama and a lot of liberals misses the mark in that it doesn’t identify or solve the unique and historical problems of black poverty.

    On the other hand the problem is America’s current political alignment make a debate just about impossible. Just trying to modernize our health care system was seem as “reparations” to underserving blacks by tens of millions of people. Actually having a real debate on real reparations would be so divisive it would probably lead to political violence in this country perpetuated by white conservatives.

    Coates believes a debate would be a sign of American maturity, a way for us to face our sins towards black people with honesty, similar to what Germany did. The problem is imagine West Germany trying to have that debate with the Nazi Party still holding seats in Parliament and their coalition still winning 45+ percent of the vote in elections.

    Today’s Republican party IS the white supremacy party composed of people who look at the pre civil rights days as America’s “golden age”. In fact many of them still defend, even romanticize their ancestors role in taking up arms against our nation to defend chattel slavery. Black people being discriminated against and treated like second class citizens is a feature not a bug of Americas past, present and future to modern day conservatism.

    A debate on reparations and America’s sordid racial history would be seen as an existential crisis by the Republican party and they would be correct because it would be an indictment on the current Republican parties entire organizing principle.

  68. 68
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mnemosyne: Yeah, I know, and it drives me fucking crazy.

    We need get to get past this bizarre “heritage” notion which is similar to claiming that the entire “resettlement in the East” program the Germans had going in the 40’s is also “heritage”.

    We need to shitcan this obscene notion or progress on this matter will be retarded. By retards.

  69. 69
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    Can we get a half-dozen more front pagers to uselessly repeat each other?

  70. 70
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    Check this out:

    Obama in the wild.


  71. 71
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader: OK, this is DougJ trolling. I just know it.

  72. 72
    Cacti says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Until we get that bizarre notion that this barbaric facet of the American past is the sort of “Heritage” you should shitcan, like that entire “resettlement in the East” program the Germans had going in the 40′s, progress in this matter will be retarded. By retards.

    Postwar Germany has been fairly unique in fully owning the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the third reich. Minimizing past sins is a much more common feature nation states.

    Japan, in contrast, has a strong school of denialism that considers it a victim rather than a perpetrator of the last world war.

  73. 73
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @burnspbesq: Hey, what about Fresno? Home of Free Republic?

  74. 74
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    @Archon: A rising tide lifts all boats AND the corpses of folks who didn’t have a boat, so no one gets left out.

  75. 75
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Cacti: Just so you know, I went back and radically altered my post. So you quoted the first version that I was dissatisfied with.

    But no matter…you are of course correct that the Germans’ revulsion of the Third Reich is rather atypical, and Japan’s river in Egypt problem is only getting worse with their wingtard PM.

  76. 76
    Kylroy says:

    @Cacti: Also, Germany had been utterly goddamn crushed in all – out war, twice, in the span of two generations. Shit like that makes a country do some soul searching.

  77. 77
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader: Well, it does not help that those on the yachts keep firing torpedoes at and shelling the smaller boats because the smaller boats are crowding the yachts and spoiling the view for the yacht owners.

  78. 78
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Kylroy: Germany wasn’t really “crushed” in WWI, but it was useful for those who perpetrated WWII to claim that.

    Of course, the Allies did not allow such a situation to exist where a Dolchstoßlegende could be perpetrated after WWII. Germany WAS utterly crushed in WWII…no one could possibly argue otherwise. That did have a profound effect on the German psyche.

  79. 79
    flukebucket says:

    The President takes a walk.

    Sometimes it is easy to forget just how much he really is loved by most of the people.

  80. 80
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @ranchandsyrup: Guy needs to have died in the fire, to improve the world.

  81. 81
    Roger Moore says:


    Postwar Germany has been fairly unique in fully owning the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the third reich.

    It didn’t happen by accident. Germany was forced to confront its past by the occupying powers, who were genuinely and realistically afraid of what would happen if they ever let the Nazis back in control. I doubt that Germany would have been as forthright in confronting the Nazis had they been left to their own devices.

  82. 82
    NotMax says:

    Read it in full. Having grown up on the mother’s milk of the likes of Michael Harrington and Dwight MacDonald, wasn’t terrifically impressed. A pale shadow of Studs Terkel.

  83. 83
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Archon: I get your point, but what’s the alternative, not talk about it? I like the idea of putting these creeps on the defensive- they don’t have the numbers or the power they once did.

  84. 84
    scav says:

    Rather tellingly apt that I’ve just reached the in-depth research into the Civil War heavy part of the family and discover the first concrete ownership of slaves with names (only rumors before). I’m bouncing between some rather entirely dire newspaper editorials from the period, descriptions of battles and return to this for breaks (ahem. sigh.).

    From a purely pragmatic selfish viewpoint, I wish the yelling officer class here could long-distance zap some understanding of how many officers I have to keep track of for all the Division/Brigade/Regiment/Army/Corps/OhHelp fractal hierarchy I need to understand what’s going on. They really don’t seem to be playing fair or consistently with the nomenclature when being told to run at the grey guys on hills. For all the good it sometimes seems to have done.

  85. 85
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @scav: I would be happy to assist if you have some specific questions! :)

  86. 86
    Rob in CT says:


    I think there has to be more than cutting of checks, unless we think all the stuff outlined by Coates is really over and done with. If it’s not, predators will steal the money back. I’d like to believe that we’ve dismantled the structures that allow people to do that (I mean, on the basis of race), but I’m really not sure. There was stuff that went down during the recent housing bubble that gives me pause.

  87. 87
    Roger Moore says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Germany wasn’t really “crushed” in WWI, but it was useful for those who perpetrated WWII to claim that.

    That’s almost completely backward. The perpetrators of WWII claimed Germany had still been militarily strong at the end of WWI and had only lost because they had been stabbed in the back by feckless civilians at home. In truth, Germany was in the process of being crushed militarily, and the military leaders sued for peace because they were on the brink of collapse and thought they’d get better terms if they gave up before that collapse happened.

  88. 88
    scav says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I’ll work on specificity and take you up on that. Right now I’m on the pure explosion phase, still figuring out where they went at the battle level and getting overviews of same but seeing the upcoming problems if I try to go smaller scale. Will admit to starting with zip-nada understanding of basic structure, but that I won’t bother you with. thanks.

    Eta. Favorite name so far is James Dada Morgan, and there’s quite a fight for best set of whiskers.

  89. 89
    sherparick says:

    @Lymie: “If you think this has a happy ending, you have not been paying attention.” Ramsay Snow to Theon/Reek, Season 3. Episode 6, Game of Thrones.

    We Americans don’t like to really look at Slavery and Jim Crow, and how the doctrine of racial superiority was basically a way to make a white person such as myself feel okay with legalized armed robbery of other human beings labor and property for 350 years. We also don’t like to look at the armed robbery, fraud, and genocide practiced against Native Americans (speaking of a justified claim for reparations). A few people may know about Wounded Knee or the Little Big Horn, but few people are conscious that these were minor episode of a slaughter that starts with King Phillips’ War and continued through the FBI-AIM confrontation in the 1970s.

    Only recently has American Civil War military history books discussed the fact that Confederate Armies were supported by thousands of slaves who served as cooks, teamsters, and laborers, etc. thereby freeing most white soldiers for combat. And the war that preceded and caused the Civil War was a notably “Wicked War” (for which my distant cousin, James K. Polk, slave owner and white supremacist, was primarily responsible). http://www.rakuten.com/prod/a-.....Ogodq0QA_Q

    Stepping back a bit from my own and families passionate involvement in the American Experience (serving in every war since Queen Anne’s and being both on the giving and receiving end of frontier massacres), a continental size nation of 315 million people, deeply divided into separate tribes along racial, class, and regional (White Yankees and Southerners may share forms of white privilege, but also share a mutual loathing) is almost a dream place for a plutocratic elite to “divide and rule.” Which unfortunately is why no matter how justified in principle, reparations are the ultimate wedge issue for American politics.

  90. 90
    raven says:

    @scav: Pretty nut isn’t it? “The Day Dixie Died, The Battle of Atlanta” spends a good bit of time in the “Author’s Notes” explaining the names of units and officers on both sides. My ancestor was in the 11th Tennessee Infantry known as Cheatham’s Rifles at Cheatham Hill in the Battle of Kennesaw Moutain but Gen Frank Cheatham was not the commander of “Cheatham’s Division” in the Battle of Atlanta, Gen Maney was. Cheatham was the commander of Hood’s Corps in the Battle.

  91. 91
    Stan Gable says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Germany was forced to confront its past by the occupying powers

    In France (and Germany too I believe) one of the ways they deal/dealt with this was to acknowledge the past sins while happily pretending everyone still alive was an active part of the resistance. From that perspective, our treatment of the Civil War, slavery and segregation isn’t quite as different. The Klan is a thing but everyone opposed them/the Civil War was about vague ‘states rights’ etc.

  92. 92
    Calouste says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    Mistreatment of minority groups, or those not in power, is very obviously and tragically American. Not Un-American. American. Native Americans, Blacks, Irish, Catholics, Jews, Slavs, Hispanics, Asians. Heck, the only reason German-Americans weren’t prosecuted during WWI is because they were white enough and purged themselves of their own culture in no time flat.

  93. 93
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    @Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937: I was just going to post that. Made me laugh aloud. “are you real?” This is the raw youtube link if that one won’t load. or load slow.

  94. 94
    danimal says:

    That was a devastating article. Coates is simply one of the best writers and thinkers out there. I was fascinated with his repurposing of the word reparations to include the soul-searching and understanding of the black experience. I don’t see that he’s opposed to financial recompense, but it’s clear that he’s after the reckoning of white America more than a payment and a pat on the head.

    Respect for the black historical experience is crucial for Coates, at least as I read the article. Which makes the clownish responses I’ve seen even more foolish, hateful and self-refuting than usual.

  95. 95
    gwangung says:

    @Rob in CT:

    I think there has to be more than cutting of checks, unless we think all the stuff outlined by Coates is really over and done with. If it’s not, predators will steal the money back. I’d like to believe that we’ve dismantled the structures that allow people to do that (I mean, on the basis of race), but I’m really not sure. There was stuff that went down during the recent housing bubble that gives me pause.

    I think the point of Coates is that the structures have most emphatically NOT been dismantled, but they are active and being fed more power and material even now. And they do so under the guise that we are a post-racial society who does not need to look at race.

  96. 96
    Kylroy says:

    @Calouste: I would argue it’s *human*, personally.

  97. 97
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:


    Racism and classism is as American as apple pie. I used the term un-American is the sense that we do things that are against our stated values. Those things are completely in line with a set of traditions that few are willing to acknowledge and fewer still are willing to change. My own late father, born in 1920, had vivid memories of being called a Hunky or Bohunk (He was mostly Czech and born here) while growing up in a Cleveland suburb. The funny/sad part of the whole thing is that everyone on this continent is either an immigrant or descended from immigrants. The ancestors of the Amerindians got here first is all. Everyone else was several thousand years behind them. And then the real fun started.

  98. 98
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @danimal: Most of the negative responses I’ve seen are just bringing up points he already preemptively refuted.

  99. 99
    scav says:

    This is not history, this is live is one reminder / wake-up call. Nation really needs to quit hitting the snooze bar and snuggling down for some more sweet dreams of everything being hunky dory in the shining city.

    but, returning to history, @raven: Oh yeah, our ancestral proxies were shooting at each other as the 78th ran up to one of your Cheatham corners, no? Kennesaw looks fairly clean, as does Chickamauga, but Bentonville, Jonesboro and some others look right hairballs in terms of what’s going on for the proxy. The Granger, Mitchell, Steedman, Baird (I think he’s a false lead) Sheridan, Morgan, Rosencrans and Sherman crew all shouting orders simultaneously are not helping.

  100. 100
    Calouste says:

    @Stan Gable:

    European countries went through denazification after the war. France for example (according to Wikipedia) executed 791 collaborators, including a Prime Minister of the Vichy regime, after the war and took away the civil rights of about 50,000 others. Of course, the sheer volume of cases meant that a lot of less serious cases got off.

    But compare that to the US after the civil war, where members of Jefferson Davis’s cabinet were back in Congress within a decade.

  101. 101
    raven says:

    @scav: Jason was a “musician”. They were used for communication in battle. I didn’t know that until recently and, as a Signal Corps vet, I sorta liked that. Shoot, Move an Communicate!

  102. 102
    danimal says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Totally agreed; it’s why I called the responses clownish. They’re walking into a trap, and don’t have the awareness to realize it. It’s obvious that most of the negative responders didn’t read any of the article, except perhaps the title containing the word ‘reparations’.

  103. 103
    NotMax says:


    One thing which humanized the Civil War (for me) rather than seeing it in a clinical historical perspective was a visit to an antebellum house in Petersburg, VA, scene of Battle of Cedar Creek, in which Confederate (IIRC) troops had taken refuge and viewing the carefully preserved graffiti they left behind, made with the soot and smoke of lamps and candles on the plaster in the attic.

  104. 104
    PaulW says:


    Gonna be Trollapalooza.

    It’s been relatively troll-light today. There’s been at least three different posters inserting their own mis-cued arguments against reparations who clearly did not read the article, one libertarian guy arguing for a solution involving black-owned businesses getting exempted from minimum wage laws so they could hire people at $1 per hour (HOW that helps the workers as well as the business-owners, I’ve no idea), and at least one commentator getting ban-hammered (I guess Sandy talking TNC into letting the thread be curated after all).

    I know it’s Disqus-driven comment fields, but hopefully more people here can jump in…

  105. 105
    scav says:

    @raven: Musician — well shades of what the trumpet was originally used for! That is rather interesting to learn. I think I remember mention of some really insane spooky stuff radio guys were doing during WWI using something like graphs of sounds to triangulate for artillery. They kept having to run out during battles and relay wires for it to work. All the weird other stuff that needs to get done. My guys just got shot at and apparently dug things.

  106. 106
    Ash Can says:

    @NotMax: Not a fair comparison. Coates is qualified to examine what he does in his article in ways that Terkel wasn’t. (And I think Terkel realized this — cf. his audio piece on the train ride to DC for MLK’s rally, in which he asks a preliminary question or two to get things started, then just lets his interviewees talk uninterrupted).

    ETA: Furthermore, Terkel was primarily looking to document the stories of Americans within the larger context of showing how they form American history, whereas it’s pretty obvious that Coates’ goal is to show what racism is, how pervasive it is, how destructive it remains, and what it would take for this country to fix the damage.

  107. 107
    raven says:

    @NotMax: My wife is from Appomattox. This is part of the historical site near at what they call The Surrender Ground”. The lane led to her ancestor’s house and her family still has a chair from there. There are also family stories about hiding a ham in the chimney so they Yankees wouldn’t get it and it was burned up when they started a fire in the fireplace. They actually tore down the McLean House to take it to the St Louis World Fair and then ran our of money. Her dad and his construction company were part of the restoration.



  108. 108
    NotMax says:

    @Ash Can

    I will agree and concede that Coates brings more experiential gravitas than does Terkel, but whether that makes him more qualified is, at the least, an open question. Will, however, stand by my contention that Coates’ skill in the format of personal reportage is not yet up to that of Terkel.

  109. 109
    SatanicPanic says:

    @PaulW: I was over there a bit. It’s not that bad, but the Atlantic usually isn’t.

  110. 110
    scav says:

    And let’s not underestimate the baggage the French (and Europeans, not to limit it to there either) are still carting about. LePen anyone? Want to discuss Algerians, Turks, Eastern Europeans, north African et al over there? let’s not be misled by how comfortable a certain class of American expatriates felt in Paris after the War for the whole story. Pretending everyone was in the Resistance in France is the easy sweeping. There are a plethora of alternative toxic ways the basic condition can be expressed, and exact targets can be slightly different.

  111. 111
    raven says:

    @scav: Running wire was still part of our mission. We used field phone that you cranked to get a charge and ring at the other end. We had more sophisticated stuff too like the giant troposcatter sites that bounced radio signals. Of course I was such a crappy trooper they wouldn’t let me within a mile of anything that required a clearance! Drive the truck 1%’r!

  112. 112
    cckids says:


    hat’s a pretty damn optimistic take on the potential outcome. More likely it will be taken as a chance to put all this racism garbage behind us because everything is good now. I mean look, they cashed the check, everything is fine now

    Not only that, you know FauxNews and every right-wing bloviator out there will find someone, or “hear of” someone who spends the $$ on drugs, or a wild vacation (because people are human), and that will be the story shouted from the rooftops. Like in “Erin Brockovich”, when the lawyer for PG & E says “$100 million dollars? What will these people do with that kind of money?”

  113. 113
    catclub says:

    @daveNYC: ” More likely it will be taken as a chance to put all this racism garbage behind us because everything is good now. ”

    I have not even read the article, but I can guess that if the number is calculated it will be very large.
    So large that, facing the magnitude of it, something else would have to be done.

  114. 114
    Ash Can says:

    @NotMax: “Experiential gravitas” of this kind makes any given black more qualified to comment on the pervasiveness and destructiveness of racism than any given white. I don’t see how that can be an open question.

    Having said that, if you’re referring strictly to style and technique, then I won’t argue. But your original comment struck me as being dismissive of Coates’ message. If I’m mistaken, then I’ll certainly admit to being off base.

  115. 115
    NotMax says:


    One of my treasured experiences (diverting from the Civil War here) was being able to live for the better part of a month in the house off Washington’s stepson.

    There is a seminar facility and dormitory added on to the house/museum.

    But after museum hours, the velvet ropes were dropped and we were allowed the run of the place, the use and handling of all the furniture, household items, etc.

    The next best thing to being there, in that time, in person.

  116. 116
    pseudonymous in nc says:


    I think the point of Coates is that the structures have most emphatically NOT been dismantled, but they are active and being fed more power and material even now.

    It is an argument about property. About how America was systematically built on the notion of a property-owning citizenry, with significant incentives to turn those who do not own property into property owners, and how the African-American experience of this process went from being property to being systematically denied property rights even while non-propertied white families were being eased into property ownership.

    It is an argument about net worth, and the numbers there speak for themselves.

    It is an argument that we could see very clearly in new form when right-wingers declared that Those People caused the housing bubble to burst.

  117. 117
    Roger Moore says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    Most of the negative responses I’ve seen are just bringing up points he already preemptively refuted.

    Those aren’t serious attempts to refute his ideas. They’re providing cover to people who want to dismiss his ideas unread.

  118. 118
    Caravelle says:

    @Rob in CT: Nice catch, I’ll add a link to it :

    Incidentally he refers to a piece in the Nation by Chris Hayes on climate change that is also quite interesting (and also interesting to read in the context of Coates’ article though I can’t quite put my finger on why) :

  119. 119
    Roger Moore says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:

    It is an argument that we could see very clearly in new form when right-wingers declared that Those People caused the housing bubble to burst.

    And in pretty much the same old form when banks and mortgage brokers deliberately steered minority home buyers who qualified for standard 30 year mortgages into the worst kinds of subprime loans. People don’t want to believe it’s still happening, but it certainly is.

  120. 120
    NotMax says:

    @Ash Can

    Thank you. Yes, the comment re: Terkel was a critique of ability, not of message. In 20 or 30 years, Coates may be a great journalist, but he’s a little too facile for my tastes now. Social reparations is hardly a new concept, and at least a nod to forebears would have been both appreciated and apropos.

    Sidebar of possible interest: the whitest-of-white-bread Jean Shepherd’s contemporary recounting of his trek to the March on Washington, demonstrating the use of anecdote and allegory as velvet-covered sledgehammer.

  121. 121
    raven says:

    @NotMax: Too cool. Also and aside, one of my good buddies was on Maui the other day and is now over on Oahu. He studied under Robert Aiken back in the 80’s so he knew the lay of the land.

  122. 122
    NotMax says:


    Ah, so that was the subtle disturbance in the The Force.


    Hope he enjoyed every minute.

  123. 123
    Death Panel Truck says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I call every male I do business with “Sir.” Has nothing whatever to do with the fucking military. Get over yourself.

  124. 124
    The Tragically Flip says:

    I did love the article, but would mildly quibble with his take that Progressives “rarely” mention that the New Deal was heavily racist in application. I see that brought up all the time when discussing the New Deal. His points about liberal reluctance to embrace affirmative action as an explicitly race based assistance/remediation program rather than general aid to the poor are spot on, but the problems with the New Deal are pretty widely understood and acknowledged from my readings on it.

  125. 125
    J R in WV says:

    Mr Coates is a great writer, he learns the historical facts of a wide range of issues, organizes historical information together with the current experiences people have related to the historical facts, then publishes his clear explanation of what happened, what is happening, how it was managed, who was involved from all the different perspectives, where the different things happened, and how things changed over time.

    The real lesson is at the very end. He tells of well known and successful banks still making fraudulent loans to customers they call “mud people” this very day. How disgusting that behavior is… I can barely stand to write about it. These banks and real estate people who put these frauds together, how to they manage to hire people to participate in these conspiracies who won’t tape record the conspiring meetings and go to the prosecutor with the facts?

    How can this behavior be altered out of the human race? Is it a genetic rule to enhance specific familial genetic strains? Or could it be a learned social behavior with no connection to genetics?

    It sure is depressing. I worked with an African-American who became manager of a software development team working in state government. He had academic qualifications, experience, was friendly, polite, competent and well spoken… yet his documents for purchases and hiring would disappear to never see the light of day, or be mixed up with other transactions, or have missing signatures that we all knew were there in the beginning.

    Eventually he asked to be reassigned just to get away from the behavior of secret racists dicking with his team and damaging the agency.

    I was and am appalled that this can happen, while people loudly proclaim “There is no more racism today in America!!”

    I think nearly everyone saying this reveals that they are in fact secret racists who seek cover for their behavior – if there is no more racism then these revolting monsters can’t ever be attacked as racist, no matter how they behave. The way President Obama is treated is such clear and convincing proof that racism is a prime motivator for many prominent people still today.

    As one famous racist (I believe it was George Wallace) proclaimed: “Segregation today, Segregation tomorrow, Segregation Forever!” And sure enough, racists are still all around us, it’s sadly just a little harder for people who aren’t racist to detect them.

  126. 126
    scav says:

    @The Tragically Flip: meta quibble. it’s probably just that there are bubbles of progressivers / liberals / etc. The one’s he’s run accross maybe don’t bring it up. My circle of friends is restricted enough that I can’t think of an actively racist comment for years (well, some dodgy ones at work) but that doesn’t mean I don’t belive they exist even in circles that aren’t burning crosses and worshipping mammon anglo-jeebus. I can even probably count the climate deniers in my circle on one hand — I’m very very lucky in my circles. Or picky. If you’re dealing with a class of liberals derived from “readings” on the subject, that’s already a non-representative subset.

  127. 127
    tomshefchik says:

    Why would anyone expect justice of fairness from Re-pig-lickin’s at this juncture? If they started now they would truly have a T-Bag revolution on their hands.

  128. 128
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:


    I’m sure there’s still a significant portion of France that applauds the assassination of Jean Jaurès. I’m not sure if that number is equal to the number of Americans who still fear the specter of Nat Turner, though.

  129. 129
    ruemara says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: naw, this post is another in subjects that bore him. And if it’s not about him, people like him-then it’s not that important.

  130. 130
    The Tragically Flip says:

    @scav: Sure, like I said, it’s a minor quibble to an otherwise great piece.

    I mean, maybe I’ve just noticed such criticism of the New Deal more than Coates or I read different sources who talk more about that aspect. I will say he did a better job of discussing some of the specific ways in which the New Deal excluded blacks, where many sources will just say something generic about FDR needing to placate southern Democrats with little detail of how this practically became discriminatory.

  131. 131
    Rob in CT says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:

    Yup (that argument is more infuriating the more you know about the history of such things. At this point, I know enough that the argument reduces me to near-frothing rage).

    The stuff that came out about minorities (particularly the most vulnerable folks – non-English speakers, etc) being steered into sub-prime loans even if they qualified for better ones is despicable, and tracks nearly perfectly with what went on in Chicago in the 50s/60s. There may be slightly less overt animus, but who gives a shit? Predators still preyed on vulnerable people.

    And man, if we address THAT (edit: that being predatory behavior, in genearl), ho boy. Look out. Why do you hate Capitalism, citizen?

  132. 132
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Rob in CT:

    The housing policy stuff – which is *critical* to this – is something I knew nothing about prior to reading Coates.

    I’ve long been aware of how a defining difference between the US and Yurp after WW2 was how the US offered advancement through subsidies to individuals — mortgages, tuition, etc — while Yurp focused on social housing and universal healthcare and income-based grants for university. Later on, I became aware of redlining and the whites-only policy of Levittown and other plan-built suburbs. Now I understand America as a machine for creating (some) property-owners.

  133. 133
    rikyrah says:

    Black Canseco‏@BlackCanseco·
    Wanna hate Libertarians even more? Read this #Reparations response to #Coates. https://medium.com/p/7cde116f4eb1 (h/t @Shoq)


    Libertarians DO NOT live in the real world.
    Never forget that Libertarians don’t have one iota problem with Jim Crow, after all, time and time again, they said that they would have never voted for the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act.

  134. 134
    rikyrah says:

    @The Tragically Flip:

    I will say he did a better job of discussing some of the specific ways in which the New Deal excluded blacks, where many sources will just say something generic about FDR needing to placate southern Democrats with little detail of how this practically became discriminatory.

    they excluded the main occupations of Blacks for decades, THUS, to this day, this discrimination has ramifications because our Elders have SS Checks far smaller than they would have been IF those occupations had been included.

    The reason why 65 was chosen for Medicare is because Black folk didn’t live until 65.

    Obamacare is the first expansion of the Social Safety Net that did NOT have – IN ITS DESIGN- the EXCLUSION – of whole swaths of the American population.

    It took the John Roberts Supreme Court to set that up because of the Medicaid part of the decision.

    And nobody will EVER and I do mean EVER convince me that the main reason that those sociopathic GOP Governors refuse to expand Medicaid is because so many Black folk would finally get access to healthcare.

  135. 135
    J R in WV says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:

    Europe was still mostly a single race community after WW II, with the variations of class being nearly as important as race was/is in America.

    Of course now there are racial minorities in Europe, and that adds a whole new layer of -isms on top of the class prejudice that was.

  136. 136
    lol says:


    I’d say our reaction to slavery is not unlike Japan’s reaction to its atrocities during WW2, but let’s be honest – they were probably just taking cues from their occupiers.

  137. 137
    Caravelle says:

    @lol: That’s pretty condescending. The US doesn’t have the market cornered on atrocities or denialism about them. It’s actually imperialist SOP, and Japan is as much of an (ex-)imperialist power as most of the the West is.

  138. 138
    elm says:

    @J R in WV:

    Europe was still mostly a single race community after WW II, with the variations of class being nearly as important as race was/is in America.

    Variations in ethnic in-group were (and still are) important in Europe. Ethnic Irish in the U.K. didn’t (and don’t) have equal access to social housing, university, jobs, etc… Ethnic Turks and Roma are still not well accepted in France and Germany. By some calculations all of the above groups are “white”, but that doesn’t go especially far.

  139. 139
    elm says:

    I think it does a disservice to this subject to refer to the problem as “racism”, “race” isn’t the issue, nor is it some generic racism. Racial animosity isn’t even the problem.

    The subject matter is white supremacy and white supremacists and the ways that they used (and still use) the law and political process to enforce ongoing white supremacy.

  140. 140
    lurker dean says:

    @PaulW: that $1 an hour thing, i can’t even process that level of stupidity: https://medium.com/p/7cde116f4eb1

  141. 141
    elm says:

    @lurker dean: I especially appreciate the demanding & bossy attitude he takes towards Coates throughout, i.e.

    When TNC hears this, he assumes it means nothing… he’s wrong.

    He needs to grok that just because Libertarians rule out larger government, that doesn’t mean we don’t have smaller government policy options to actually pay slave reparations..

    And when we put GI/CYB in place and it delivers blacks to the middle and upper class, TNC better finally go out on the 4th of July and celebrate small government with me.

    For a libertarian, he’s very happy to dictate what Coats needs to do and to shove words into his mouth.

    Because the 4th of July, my 4th of July, is about celebrating small government. It is about toppling kings to be free men.

    A large part of the U.S. population didn’t get to be “free men” after the U.S. war of independence. They continued to be subjugated and owned as slaves for a long time after that and are still subject to massive inequality.

  142. 142
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @lurker dean:

    i can’t even process that level of stupidity

    Ah, Moron Warbler. Yes, he’s that level of stupid.

  143. 143
    lurker dean says:

    @elm: ah yes, libertarians who see no problem telling others what they should be doing. i suppose i should be happy i haven’t encountered anything by warbler before.

  144. 144
    Caravelle says:

    @elm: Indeed, while racism and class aren’t as inextricably interlinked in Europe as they are in the US, there is a definite relationship between the two in France where it comes to North Africans at least. I’d been thinking of what analogs there might be in France to what Coates was describing and at first thought there wasn’t a close one. Harm done against various regional groups that’s foundational to the country is real but “reparations” doesn’t strike me as a relevant concept; colonialism mostly involved what are now foreign countries so while reparations might be a very relevant concept, a good first step might be to stop helping to damage said countries; and most actual racism involves recent immigrant groups, so again it’s less about reparations and more about stopping said racism.

    However, and I know nothing of this, I’m pretty sure those last two are closely linked – after strip-mining colonized countries for resources to fuel our own growth, I believe immigration from those countries was encouraged to feed our industry, and the children and grandchildren of said immigrants now live in projects* and suffer racial and class discrimination aplenty (and they are linked – when Sarkozy decried the “racailles” he’d get rid of with a karcher nobody pictured white kids, as certainly as I’m assured the “welfare queen” is supposed to be black).

    The pattern of exploiting “outsider’s” bodies to fuel one’s own economic development over generations does seem to be there. In fact now I think of the Algerian War I’m seeing a lot of the same “rush to extremes as you see the ground crumble under you” that Chris Hayes describes in pre-Civil War slaveowners and modern climate change denial. So to sum up we exploited their country, tortured them in the war to free their country, then as they dealt with poverty and unemployment in their country invited them to our own country to comfortably exploit them here.
    Sounds like there could be a case there.

    All I know about Turks in Germany is what I read by Gunther Walraff, and that’s pretty grim. The Roma are something else; how they’re treated is outrageous but I don’t know how much is exploitation as opposed to oppression and prejudice.

    *Which is interesting in itself – I don’t know about redlining but there definitely is neighborhood segregation, I wonder how much is intentional/official and how much is just individual racism. I know renting in Paris is fairly hard, you need all kinds of references and I think I heard that while the US government has done a lot to make it particularly easy to take out loans, the French government didn’t take that tack; that would leave a lot more free rein to private as opposed to official racism.

  145. 145
    JaneE says:

    You can and should make reparations for past wrongs, and certainly slavery qualifies, but we really really need to put the continual ongoing maltreatment of minorities to bed. You cannot talk about reparations until you stop doing what the reparations are compensation for – and that hasn’t happened. What is being done today to huge numbers of African-Americans is just not quite as damaging as chattel slavery, and it is an on-going problem that our laws and law enforcement have not been able to solve. People may pretend that the side-effects of their laws were unintended, but that only works the first time you try it. After that, “accidental” harm to minority members is definitely intentional.

  146. 146
    elm says:

    @JaneE: That’s basically exactly what TNC wrote about.


    Which is interesting in itself – I don’t know about redlining but there definitely is neighborhood segregation, I wonder how much is intentional/official and how much is just individual racism.

    Official policy and individual prejudice go hand-in-glove. I’m sure the authorities in Paris know (or could discover) how private rental policy establishes segregated neighborhoods, but if they refuse to investigate and enforce whatever non-discrimination statutes exist (I don’t even know if France has laws to that effect) then they’re condoning and enabling it as de-facto official policy.

    White supremacists in the U.S. from Jefferson Davis to Nathan Bedford Forrest to Governor Wallace to John Roberts have applied, facilitated, and condoned every means of enforcing white supremacy from chattel slavery to terrorist murder to state-sanctioned violence against protestors to gutting civil rights law. Those actions are all linked and interdependent. The fact that Roberts does it with a pen and pretty words (rather than German Shepherds and fire hoses or literal lynchings) doesn’t change that.

  147. 147
    Caravelle says:

    @JaneE: The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive though, you don’t have to wait for one to be done before considering the other. I’m reminded to how many people saw the fight for gay marriage at first – why fight for pie-in-the-sky frivolities before much more immediate practical issues like housing and job discrimination were addressed ? In retrospect those criticisms seem misguided, but I don’t think anybody would have predicted how fast gay marriage progressed as an issue. I’m certainly not suggesting the same would happen for reparations (for one thing, gay marriage doesn’t pick anyone’s literal pocket. For another, talk of reparations isn’t new). But the fight for gay marriage wasn’t just successful on its own terms, it also normalized homosexuality to an unprecedented extent; I don’t actually know this but I would be very surprised to find out that it hadn’t helped a lot with housing and job discrimination – because once we’ve gotten used to seeing all those happy couples tying the knot on the news it’s a lot harder to see their lifestyle as something alien we don’t want to work or live next to.

    I’m also not suggesting the same would happen with reparations because the dynamics of those issues are completely different, but IF for some reason the zeitgeist allowed talk of reparations to go forward, and that bill about studying the issue was debated, maybe passed and committees wrote reports summing up all the past and ongoing discrimination and quantified its effects… Surely that would help the fight against ongoing discrimination. And if the zeitgeist was really unexpected and there was actual momentum behind enacting reparations of some kind… I’d expect that same momentum to work against ongoing discrimination.

  148. 148
    machine says:


    “Libertarians DO NOT live in the real world.
    Never forget that Libertarians don’t have one iota problem with Jim Crow, after all, time and time again, they said that they would have never voted for the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act.”

    An overly broad statement, bordering on hyperbole. Not the best method to foster open and honest discussion.

  149. 149
    Rob in CT says:


    Actually, no, it’s not hyperbole. It’s true.

Comments are closed.