The Full Weight Of History

Ta-Nehisi Coates eloquently explains his position on the Democrats in 2016 as Hillary Clinton mentions that Lincoln was her favorite president due to his willingness to “reconcile and forgive” the Lost Cause of the South.

Yet until relatively recently, this self-serving version of history was dominant. It is almost certainly the version fed to Hillary Clinton during her school years, and possibly even as a college student. Hillary Clinton is no longer a college student. And the fact that a presidential candidate would imply that Jim Crow and Reconstruction were equal, that the era of lynching and white supremacist violence would have been prevented had that same violence not killed Lincoln, and that the violence was simply the result of rancor, the absence of a forgiving spirit, and an understandably “discouraged” South is chilling.

I have spent the past two years somewhat concerned about the effects of national amnesia, largely because I believe that a problem can not be effectively treated without being effectively diagnosed. I don’t know how you diagnose the problem of racism in America without understanding the actual history. In the Democratic Party, there is, on the one hand, a candidate who seems comfortable doling out the kind of myths that undergirded racist violence. And on the other is a candidate who seems uncomfortable asking whether the history of racist violence, in and of itself, is worthy of confrontation.

These are options for a party of amnesiacs, for people whose politics are premised on forgetting. This is not a brief for staying home, because such a thing doesn’t actually exist. In the American system of government, refusing to vote for the less-than-ideal is a vote for something much worse. Even when you don’t choose, you choose. But you can choose with your skepticism fully intact. You can choose in full awareness of the insufficiency of your options, without elevating those who would have us forget into prophets. You can choose and still push, demanding more. It really isn’t too much to say, if you’re going to govern a country, you should know its history.

Not only could I not have said it better myself, I don’t think I could have said it on my best day.

And yes, it’s entirely possible to choose a primary candidate, and then say “Hey, we would like you to take a look at this issue.”  Now I’m aware of how that line of thought started out in 2008, and it morphed into something far uglier, but the fact remains that is it possible to do.

As TNC says, “You can choose and still push, demanding more.”






240 replies
  1. 1
    Cacti says:

    OT:

    Active shooter situation at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego. Developing.

  2. 2
    maurinsky says:

    This country has never made penance for slavery. Slaves were freed into a life of legal inequality; even after Civil Rights Act was passed, there was still institutional racism that prevented black Americans from full and free participation as Americans; redlining, high interest loans if loans were available; our society has constructed so many barriers to opportunity.

    And none of the candidates from either party will address it because it will cost them white votes.

  3. 3
    Matt McIrvin says:

    I was taught that Dunning-lite treatment of Reconstruction in high school, too… not so much by the teacher as by the textbook (there was, in hindsight, an interesting unstated split there). But enough public debunking has happened that it’s no excuse for a public figure to be peddling it in 2016.

  4. 4
    BGinCHI says:

    I’m glad TNC has brought this up and is remaining stubborn in trying to get it into the conversation.

    We all know the GOP and the right wing in this country is the real and biggest problem. But that doesn’t mean the Democratic party has no responsibility to further a conversation about what “reparations” means in its largest, most robust context.

    Instead of automatically thinking of a dollar figure and a nightmare distribution scenario, and therefore dismissing it as political suicide, I would prefer the party to begin with a demand for acknowledgement.

    That word, and the idea of coming to terms with a great and abiding historical injustice, can be the beginning of doing something positive about structural inequality and a number of forces that have been harming people in this country since well before its founding. It doesn’t have to be the end point, but wouldn’t it be a good idea to set that in motion in a real, tangible way?

    The Democratic party is capable of this.

  5. 5
    JPL says:

    @maurinsky:
    And none of the candidates from either party will address it because it will cost them white votes.
    this
    Most states believe that it is necessary to make it more difficult for minorities to vote. That is not confronting the past sins of slavery.

  6. 6
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    Enjoy President Trump, TNC.

  7. 7
    April says:

    Damn! Some depressing shit. You have a party trying to return to the good old days of Jim Crow and the other party praising forgiveness for the unrepentant traitors of the south. I do not understand how black people are supposed to keep swallowing this shit. TNC doesn’t slip into despair, but encourages us to still vote. I keep hoping the Republicans can get their act together enough that we can start getting better Democrats, but it looks like the country cannot afford to wait that long.

  8. 8
    Cacti says:

    And all of this circles back around to the basic point about why we can’t have a national conversation on reparations:

    A majority of white people (liberals included), just don’t want one.

    White fragility writ large.

  9. 9
    C.V. Danes says:

    Probably my first introduction to post-school history was “Lies My Teacher Told Me” followed by numerous Howard Zinn writings, which I subsequently passed down to my children.

  10. 10
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym says:

    One good way to address this, I think, is:

    Over the period from 1965 to about 1995, white Americans reluctantly agreed that, yes, we’d spent three hundred years stealing all of African-Americans’ stuff. We’re sorry, and we promise not to do it anymore, but it would be reverse racism for African-Americans to ask for any of their stuff back.

  11. 11

    Even President Obama was not good enough for TNC so its no great surprise that Bernie and Hillary have fallen short of his Olympian expectations.

    ETA: BTW I agree with most of what TNC says and that sounds like a foot-in-mouth moment that Hillary had.

  12. 12
    Cacti says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym:

    One good way to address this, I think, is:

    Over the period from 1965 to about 1995, white Americans reluctantly agreed that, yes, we’d spent three hundred years stealing all of African-Americans’ stuff. We’re sorry, and we promise not to do it anymore, but it would be reverse racism for African-Americans to ask for any of their stuff back.

    Just yesterday, we had liberal, presumably well-informed folks arguing that reparations would be bad because they’re racially divisive.

    Seriously.

    So, I guess race-specific injury should have a race-neutral remedy, because of reasons.

  13. 13
    maurinsky says:

    I don’t think it’s wrong for TNC to have high expectations. We have never compensated those Americans who are descended from slaves for the wrong that was done to them. Never.

  14. 14
    April says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:
    Olympian expectation that she understand true history and not the comforting fairy tales of white supremacy? Come on, you are fairer than that.

  15. 15
    gwangung says:

    Just yesterday, we had liberal, presumably well-informed folks arguing that reparations would be bad because they’re racially divisive.

    Indeed, it is rare for liberals to openly admit this.

    Now, perhaps we can get to the point where liberals to consciously admit that.

  16. 16
    Kylroy says:

    @Cacti: And that pesky democracy thing means that Democrats won’t address it.

  17. 17

    @April: No she shouldn’t have said that. I added a correction to my original comment.

  18. 18
    The Other Chuck says:

    I still run into people who argue “The main cause of the Civil War was not slavery”. I just point them at the articles of secession, every single one of which explicitly mentions the continuation of slavery (or the “peculiar institution” that they were already too ashamed to call by name anyway). Shuts ’em up real quick.

    It is pretty clear however that after the abolition of slavery was accomplished, the view from the vast majority of the political class (read: white men) was that the 13th and 14th amendments meant Mission Accomplished, nothing more to have to think about, it’s all their problem now — and oh yeah they really ought to learn their place and stop rocking the boat. Seems to me we that’s what need to be making up for, since the war pretty well decided the original issue after all.

  19. 19
    quakerinabasement says:

    Those last four sentences speak to me. If you hold out for perfect in our system, you’re actually casting your vote for something much worse.

  20. 20
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Of course, what TNC doesn’t want to do is face the full history of this, which supports Bernie’s position on economic inequality. It is the root cause, but racism itself has obtained a life of its own, which TNC is most correct about.

    The other problem is that we can’t undo the injustices of the past overnight. And we can’t address them without understanding that the divide between the poor blacks and the poor whites was fomented by the rich whites using classic divide and conquer tactics. It’s been going on for so long that participants on both sides of the divide have lost sight of it.

  21. 21
    BlueDWarrior says:

    Once again, what we are having is a case that the actual medicine the country needs to take, in terms of understanding that our entire nation was built on the backs of multiple minorities we literally and figuratively abused, in some cases into near nonexistence, is simply too much for a lot of people to handle.

    That is why this is a short-term political loser for Democrats – but long term you cannot solve the conundrum of what to do about minorities without, at the very least, addressing the problem in its full historical scope.

    There are too many white people who just want to ignore our history because doing so lets them bitterly cling to the myth of what American is and was, instead of what it truly was.

    In this vein, I was so deeply depressed when people reacted the way they did to Obama’s bitter clinger remark roughly 8 years ago, because it’s true. Rural whites especially are getting more recalcitrant as they see the America they once knew evaporate into the aether, and nothing they are doing can stop it. So they are almost rooting for a meteor to destroy this nascent New America so that the old one can be reconstructed in its ashes.

    And the more people don’t want to admit this, the further the country will sink into the quicksand.

  22. 22
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Cacti: Reparations is a complex issue. There’s the general case for reparations, which is basically exploitation of the powerless and which has occured to more than just blacks. And there is the specific case for reparations for centuries of exploitation of black people, which is tied up not just with issues of power, but issues of race as well. But both arguments are tied together as well in most minds, such that they can’t divest reparations for crimes an entire society inflicted (and continues to inflict) on blacks from their own sense of powerlessness against the entrenched system of exploitation in this country.

    Besides, while white people have advantages in America for being white, the people who have gained the most (directly, and indirectly through inheritance from exploitation from their ancestors) are sitting comfortably at the top .1% of our economic pyramid. They control the news, and have been using it quite effectively for centuries to keep us at each others’ throats.

  23. 23
    The Other Chuck says:

    @Cacti: How is a reparations program based on the race of the one receiving reparations not divisive? Does Obama only get half the reparations? Is there a Pantone chart for how black one needs to be? You want to talk race-neutral programs, a rising tide lifting all boats, great. More of those please. They’re also not what anyone’s calling “reparations”.

  24. 24
  25. 25
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    Trumps’s gonna do the reparations deal. It will be yooge, a win for everyone.

  26. 26
    Kylroy says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I don’t think TNC is ignorant of the full history of this. He’s previously said things like (paraphrasing) “White people haven’t done anything to black people that they wouldn’t have done to other white people in different circumstances.” He’s just adamant for acknowledgement of the fact that Black America has been economically crippled when it wasn’t enslaved.

  27. 27
    gratuitous says:

    “You can choose and still push.” Back to my high school journalism teacher of fond memory, who wanted two ping pong paddles, one with the word “Yes” on it, and the second with the word “but.” You can indeed choose with full awareness that the choice you’re making is insufficient, but it is the best choice of those available. You do indeed need to keep pushing, so that the next time the choice comes, you can do better, even if it is still insufficient.

    But keep in mind as well, that what you regard as insufficient, there will be disagreement. “Oh no, that’s good enough, that’s all I ever wanted.” There will also be those who think that the insufficient choice is “too far.” They’re not likely to decide subsequently that “too far” is sufficient, or that it is insufficient in any way. You have to keep working on a number of fronts. For those who agree with you, keep encouraging them that the current state of affairs is merely a way station. For those who are satisfied with the insufficient way station, you have to prod them to see how the present state fails to serve so many others. Toughest of all are those who think you’ve already gone too far, and if they constitute a majority, you’re work is cut out for you. If they are even a significant minority, you’re going to have to do a lot of pushing. The system is by default happy with the status quo. If it’s going to move off that, it will require more pushing, more heavy lifting.

    Count well the cost, keep your eyes open, and recognize that achievement of half measures quickly becomes the new status quo. As soon as you win one battle, the next one starts.

  28. 28
    Cacti says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Of course, what TNC doesn’t want to do is face the full history of this, which supports Bernie’s position on economic inequality. It is the root cause, but racism itself has obtained a life of its own, which TNC is most correct about.

    Or maybe TNC is well acquainted with the full history of this, and knows that Bernie’s class reductionist arguments are a crock.

  29. 29
    BlueDWarrior says:

    @The Other Chuck: for too many people, it’s not racisim unless a giant mob or the police (or both) are dragging perfectly innocent black people out into the streets and murdering them in cold blood.

    Of course when you try to argue this point regarding police brutality, they fall back into the comfortable myth that the police will never do anything wrong to anyone who didn’t deserve it.

    The biggest problems to our advancement of the culture are people who will metaphorically, or in a few cases literally, slit your throat if you try to take them out of their comfort zone.

  30. 30
    Punchy says:

    Naval Medical Center

    Orange ya gunna ask what’s going on? I think we can concentrate on a likely cause: A Syracuse grad went belly up gambling at the Tropicana, someone pushed his/her buttons, and this Orangeman is now beating up others to a pulp.

  31. 31
    CarolDuahrt2 says:

    I”m one of thsoe people who feel that if Lincoln-had lived long enough to set a policy, things might not have been so bad. He would have had enough political capital to set things on a constructive course by tempering the worst instincts of both the bitter enders and the more radical Abolitionists.

    As for reparations, I think that only targeted reparations would work, like the reparations after the Holocaust and the Japanese Internment. If the Feds had policy that in effect was disriminatory, those suffering from it should be made whole.

  32. 32
    Paul in KY says:

    @JPL: It is ONE party that wants to make it harder for minorities to vote. One.

  33. 33
    gwangung says:

    How is a reparations program based on the race of the one receiving reparations not divisive?

    It sure is divisive. Like in the case of reparations for Japanese American concentration camps. EVEN in the case of the Japanese American relocation camps.

  34. 34
    Cacti says:

    @The Other Chuck:

    You want to talk race-neutral programs, a rising tide lifting all boats, great. More of those please. They’re also not what anyone’s calling “reparations”.

    They also don’t remediate the specific harms that people of African ancestry were singled out for, and on which white wealth was built.

  35. 35
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym:

    Yep. We had maybe 30 years of half-hearted attempts at restitution that were opposed and litigated at every turn, and my fellow white people are surprised that a half-assed effort wasn’t enough to make up for 300 years of oppression?

    I know that this pressure is making the Bernistas crazy, but you know what the candidate himself did after the BLM protesters interrupted him in Seattle? He invited local BLM activists to speak ahead of him in Los Angeles.

    Bernie’s supporters are his worst enemy sometimes. He’s a big boy. Let him respond, because so far he’s had a good one when he’s been allowed to speak for himself without his supporters “helping.”

  36. 36
    Bobby Thomson says:

    It’s disappointing, and I have to think in part it’s a function of age and in part because history isn’t her thing. The best I can say is that it was just ignorant and didn’t seem to come from a dark place.

  37. 37
    JPL says:

    @Paul in KY: thanks for the correction.

  38. 38
    gwangung says:

    We had maybe 30 years of half-hearted attempts at restitution that were opposed and litigated at every turn,

    I think that’s an overly generous number, for my part.

  39. 39
    Kylroy says:

    I just don’t see the world where reparations gains stream as a serious possibility. America is getting less white, yes, but it’s not particularly getting more black – mostly it’s getting more Hispanic. And for all that TNC says he sees this issue being seriously dealt with in his grandchildren’s day, I don’t see why a majority Hispanic US electorate would want to hand over billions of dollars based largely on actions that happened before their ancestors got here.

  40. 40
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Cacti: Not “because reasons” but because we don’t want perpetual Republican rule. You said it yourself: “A majority of white people (liberals included), just don’t want one [a national conversation on reparations].”

    You are absolutely right; that point is backed up by hard data, but what you don’t seem to understand is that the fact that you so eloquently and repeatedly point out has consequences, one of which is that a reparations conversation would hurt destroy Democrats should they choose to make it an issue (which they won’t because they can do math). That sucks, but here we are.

  41. 41
    BlueDWarrior says:

    @Bobby Thomson: part of the problem is that the people who most need to hear just how badly the shining city on a hill was built on a pile of broken, dark-skinned bodies will throw the person telling them into a operating wood chipper if they did.

    Our politics are fundamentally broken in this respect: you cannot as a major candidate acknowledge that minorities, especially Blacks, are both currently and historically being held in harm, without suffering crippling, if not fatal white backlash.

  42. 42
    Mnemosyne says:

    @The Other Chuck:

    When black people are still TO THIS DAY being pushed into unaffordable subprime loans when they qualified for prime loans based on everything but their skin color, how do you create a “race neutral” remedy?

  43. 43
    cokane says:

    @The Other Chuck: Zero actually, his dad was not a descendant of slavery. Well said nonetheless. It’s a non-starter of an issue. Also, will every oppressed race get their own reparations? Chinese descendants can get half of what blacks got, Native Americans can get double? The whole thing is just an exercise in good-minded liberals posturing and hectoring others on an issue that will never see the light of day. How about we get to work on shit that can actually pass?

  44. 44
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Cacti: Since blacks are automatically tossed into the lower classes, it seems like it’s race based. The race thing was the divide and conquer strategy. There are enough stupid white people out there to buy into it, and not realize they have more in common with the blacks than they do with the 1%.

    This has always been about the high vs the low. Bernie’s take isn’t a crock, but it doesn’t recognize the compounding of the injustice that melanin levels give it.

    Remember that not too long ago, the Irish, the Italians, the Eastern Europeans were not “white”.

  45. 45
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Coates has always made it clear that American racism started out with, and was sustained by, arguments justifying the plunder of people, labor and treasure. That’s a large part of why he wants there to be some sort of material payback.

    But attacking economic class inequities alone is not going to cut it.

    I think it’s perfectly all right to find everyone wanting; that’s just telling the truth. He’s explicitly not telling anyone to stay home or give up the game.

  46. 46
    cokane says:

    @Betty Cracker: Hell, only 60% of blacks want reparations according to that polling, but apparently it’s only divisive among white people…

  47. 47
    Mnemosyne says:

    @gwangung:

    Hence the italicization of “maybe” in that sentence. Thirty years is the absolute upper number one can claim with a straight face.

  48. 48
    Cacti says:

    @cokane:

    It’s a non-starter of an issue. Also, will every oppressed race get their own reparations?

    Another head scratcher of an argument.

    White America screwed over lots of minority groups, ergo, none of the injured parties should have a remedy.

    Very progressive.

  49. 49
    John Carter says:

    Reparations! Sure, but…

    Just wondering if 75, 100 or even 150 years from now the governing body of America (if it still exists) and its underlings will consider reparations for the poor, those who lost jobs, those who worked many jobs to try to continue to exist, the young who were robbed an education and their futures, those who lost any chance at financial recovery or even to “stay the course” of basic life, those who suffered because of insufficient healthcare or even those whose lives were taken away because of political/corporate greed of the early 21st century caused by the government, business and the populace of the period?

  50. 50
    gwangung says:

    Also, will every oppressed race get their own reparations?

    Whites were shitty to everybody, so let’s not even try to address anything?

    I think you have better arguments than this.

  51. 51
    BlueDWarrior says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: and I think that is where the conversation more needs to be steered when it comes to anything smacking of reparations.

    Black people take bonus damage from economic harm compared to most other ethnic groups, probably second only to Native Americans. But the second you talk about calibrating programs to account for groups taking more economic harm in different places than others, it turns into welfare and support a bunch of ne’er-do-wells mostly living in the cities.

    So our programs have to be centered about people who are just ‘down on their luck’ for a few months, instead of having to suffer 3+ generations of failed schools and lack of robust employment opportunities.

  52. 52
    The Other Chuck says:

    @gwangung: I suspect if the reparations for the Japanese internment program were done 150 years later, after interning all Asian-Americans and adding twice that on top to have similar numbers, it might also present a few difficulties.

    We have a lot to account for all right, but justice isn’t a balance sheet with just single credit and debit columns.

  53. 53
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Yeah, but just how far do we go with this? As Dennis Moore discovered, economic redistribution is a lot more difficult on the ground than it is during a parlor discussion. Basing it on the social construct called “race” just tosses another variable in to further muddle the process, to further dissatisfy everyone involved.

  54. 54
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    Those who decry half-a-loaf measures are usually people who can afford to wait for a whole tray to be completed. Also incremental improvements make it easier to get to the next step

  55. 55
    Kylroy says:

    @gwangung: Japanese Internment Reparations: $1.2 Billion.

    TNC Proposed partial reparations, based on 1973 dollars: $340-680 billion.

    Just about everything changes when you scale it up two or three orders of magnitude.

    Plus, in a world where moral claims secure property, how the hell does anyone not of Native American descent remain living in the Americas?

  56. 56
    Cacti says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Since blacks are automatically tossed into the lower classes, it seems like it’s race based. The race thing was the divide and conquer strategy. There are enough stupid white people out there to buy into it, and not realize they have more in common with the blacks than they do with the 1%.

    Yes, I know this is the preferred explanation for racism by white leftists, academics, etc.

    And it might hold a thimble of water if there was a single real-world example of socialist or social democratic economic policies leading to an end of racism somewhere. But there isn’t. And so it remains academic wankery peddled by members of the socially dominant group.

  57. 57
    The Other Chuck says:

    @Kylroy:

    Plus, in a world where moral claims secure property, how the hell does anyone not of Native American descent remain living in the Americas?

    To say nothing of the fact that they weren’t the first here either.

  58. 58
    dedc79 says:

    History by Hillary Clinton:

    And I don’t know what our country might have been like had George Washington not cut down that cherry tree and then lied about it, but I bet that it might have been a little less rancorous, a little more forgiving and tolerant, that might possibly have brought people back together more quickly.

  59. 59
    gwangung says:

    So, basically, it’s OK to be cheap.

  60. 60
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @BlueDWarrior: Well, there’s always the “those people” argument from the usual suspects who apparently don’t mind being bent over and used so long as they have the reacharound of at least not being “those people”.

    I don’t know how you go about addressing this issue without breaking a few eggs on everyone’s side. Perhaps the model of South Africa might be explored?

  61. 61
    singfoom says:

    I agree with the general idea of reparations but recognize that it’s a non starter politically across the spectrum. It seems to me that it might be worthwhile to see what problems exist today, right now and try to remedy those problems immediately and into the future via legislation before trying to tackle reparations.

    Things like, I dunno, criminal justice reform so that African Americans don’t make up such a high percentage of our prison population vs general population. Ending the war on drugs so there’s not another excuse to lock them up. Seriously putting resources into prosecuting financial entities that redline.

    That sort of thing. I think you can keep the larger grander ideas in the background and shoot for them, but maybe just maybe stopping police from killing people is more pressing than reparations.

  62. 62
    The Other Chuck says:

    @gwangung: Or maybe the answer doesn’t fit on a fucking bumper sticker.

  63. 63
    Linnaeus says:

    @Cacti:

    Yes, I know this is the preferred explanation for racism by white leftists, academics, etc

    To the extent that this was ever true, it’s much, much less true now.

  64. 64
    BlueDWarrior says:

    @Cacti: that I do agree with. Perhaps the idea is that if everyone is on a decent balance when it comes to economics, we could actually discuss the other issues.

    Maybe if poor whites didn’t feel like they were being shortchanged because of money going to poor Blacks/Hispanics/etc., we could actually get them to the table to talk about other stuff?

    I’m not sure how true that really is, but it’s a thought.

  65. 65
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Cacti: Well, what is the alternative then? Genocide of the whites?

  66. 66
    Mnemosyne says:

    Also, too, without giving any spoilers, I can tell you that one of the big plot points in the new Disney animated film “Zootopia” revolves around a character’s intersectionality fail. Seriously. In a family film made by (a majority of) white people. It’s in the air this year.

  67. 67
    cokane says:

    @Cacti: What’s head scratching is the Old Testament logic of the sins of the father undergirding the reparations argument. It’s not a logic that we apply in any other field when it comes to culpability or restitution.

  68. 68
    dedc79 says:

    @Cacti:

    And it might hold a thimble of water if there was a single real-world example of socialist or social democratic economic policies leading to an end of racism somewhere. But there isn’t.

    Is there an example of a single real-world policy, economic or otherwise, that has lead to the end of racism somewhere? If so, let us know, so we can implement it here immediately.

  69. 69
    Kylroy says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: No, silly, we just need to keep them from voting.

  70. 70
    Betty Cracker says:

    @cokane: I don’t that argument holds any water, personally — no one is seriously proposing to track down the descendants of plantation owners, etc., and make them pony up. The culpable party here would be the US government, and presumably all US taxpayers would be on the hook for the reparations fund.

  71. 71
    rikyrah says:

    Coates explained it well.

  72. 72
    Kylroy says:

    @dedc79: Massive intermarriage? It’s what wiped out white on white racism in the U.S.

  73. 73
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Kylroy:

    I don’t think TNC is ignorant of the full history of this. He’s previously said things like (paraphrasing) “White people haven’t done anything to black people that they wouldn’t have done to other white people in different circumstances.”

    This is true, but the kicker is that white people haven’t done anything to black people that black people wouldn’t have done to other black people in different circumstances.

    We are all members of the human race. And that means that we’re not different under the hood. Whites have exploited others because that’s how history has played out. If history had reversed, it would have been the blacks (or some other race) doing the exploiting, and the whites seeking reparations.

    I generally agree with Coates, but whites are not some specially evil branch of humanity. Whites have just been favored by the luck of history, and some have exploited that to their perpetual advantage. The rest is stupidity of people in general and guilt by association.

  74. 74
    Cacti says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Well, what is the alternative then? Genocide of the whites?

    Reductio ad absurdum is a logical fallacy, not a point of view.

    The above is akin to the GOP saying “let’s just give everyone a million dollars and they’ll all be rich” as a rejoinder to proposed minimum wage increases.

  75. 75
    Loneoak says:

    Since when is being divisive an a priori reason not to do the right thing? That places a higher value on unity than anything else we might do. And that is ok, I suppose, just as long as you acknowledge that is what you are doing. I would place national unity significantly lower on the pole of values because I don’t really care to have any unity with the racist fucks who locked the Overton window in 1981.

    Sometimes it seems like “divisive” is used as a synonym for “complicated” (it would be hard to determine who is and isn’t due reparations), and at other times is a synonym for “harder to get our guys elected next year.” Those are decent points in the argument about whether we should pursue a goal that can be weighed up against the benefits of pursuing a goal, but they are not the same thing as being divisive. And they are are not a priori reasons to not pursue a goal. Usually when people use concrete terms in the most abstract manner possible they are just avoiding articulating how they really feel.

  76. 76
    dedc79 says:

    Seems like more accurate history textbooks would be a good place to start. It wasn’t until I was prompted (by TNC’s blogging) to read Foener’s book on Reconstruction (and reviews/assessments of that book) that i realized how badly my high school had botched the actual history.

  77. 77
    cokane says:

    @Cacti: Childish desire to have the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    And it might hold a thimble of water if there was a single real-world example of socialist or social democratic economic policies leading to an end of racism somewhere.

    The world was shockingly more racist in the not too distant past. That racism hasn’t been eliminated is no reason to scoff at the enormous and real progress made. That shit isn’t automatic. But, I realize the important thing here is that you can pretend to be more moral than other liberals.

  78. 78
    Cacti says:

    @dedc79:

    Is there an example of a single real-world policy, economic or otherwise, that has lead to the end of racism somewhere? If so, let us know, so we can implement it here immediately.

    Never said there was.

    My response was to the tendency of (typically white) lefties to authoritatively state “the real reasons for racism”.

  79. 79
    Kylroy says:

    @Betty Cracker: But that’s what makes this so unusual – the U.S. government permitted and taxed slavery, but it didn’t run the plantations. When a company poisons a town with it’s factory, we hit up the company before asking for recompense from the government.

    Not saying this makes reparations impossible, but that doing it will involve stepping well outside of existing legal processes.

  80. 80
    Paul in KY says:

    @Bobby Thomson: I wish she’d said FDR.

  81. 81
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Cacti: Well, come up with some alternative then? Your comments INVITE reductio ad absurdum.

    Attacking anyone who doesn’t jump in lockstep with you on anything is no way to win friends and influence people. You’re going to have to give on something. Demanding an end to all racism everywhere right fucking now is pretty much in tune with our friends the forced birthers and their absurd demands. Also assuming that anyone who dares to disagree with you is Dick Cheney in drag isn’t helpful, either.

  82. 82
    Mnemosyne says:

    @cokane:

    What’s head scratching is the Old Testament logic of the sins of the father undergirding the reparations argument.

    What part of “there’s a current ongoing lawsuit because black people are being discriminated against by mortgage lenders even as we speak” says “sins of the fathers” to you? That’s like a little kid saying it was okay to punch a kid on the playground because he did it a whole five minutes ago and what are you bringing up ancient history for?

    The problem is not the “sins of the fathers.” It’s the current, ongoing, repeated sins going on right now that people refuse to see as race-based because racism died in 1965.

  83. 83
    Loneoak says:

    Reparations aren’t really that hard to wrap your head around as a politically feasible act as long as you don’t start with “reparations to every descendant of slaves.” There are plenty of living people, or their immediate descendants, who had wealth stolen from through the policies or complicity of federal agencies in recent history. Start with actual settlements for blacks who were redlined through the collusion of the FHA and banks. Give farmable land owned by the feds away to black farmers who couldn’t get subsidized loans from the feds. Offer reparations to the families of black veterans who couldn’t use the GI bill. Offer reparations to the descendants of people who lost all their property in the Omaha Race Riot, and all the other race riots where whites just burned black wealth to the ground. Pay reparations to the families of everyone who was lynched.

    It’s not that hard to get started.

  84. 84
    Kylroy says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: His alternative, near as I can figure, is enforcing reparations over the (largely white) objections of the American electorate. How that works, I don’t know.

  85. 85
    Cacti says:

    @cokane:

    What’s head scratching is the Old Testament logic of the sins of the father undergirding the reparations argument. It’s not a logic that we apply in any other field when it comes to culpability or restitution.

    But the harms to one group and concurrent benefits to another are active and ongoing. Or rather, they’re here in the present, not confined to the past.

  86. 86
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Betty Cracker: Why wouldn’t the culpable party be the members of of .1% who have serially exploited blacks (and others) for centuries?

  87. 87
    sherparick says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader: Actually, TNC did not say not vote for either Hilary or Bernie, but vote with your eyes open that although far better than the alternative, they are flawed human beings. I actually had the same history teacher in high school that HRC had in Park Ridge Illinois, and believe me she got the full Dunning treatment from him, along with view, though he prided himself as a rock rib Republican, that the South fought for a great cause of States Rights in the War Between the States. We actually got assigned to read pieces in National Review, his favorite magazine. So unfortunately, HRC is echoing some lesson she got from long ago about Abraham Lincoln, which I believe is incorrect.

  88. 88
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Kylroy: Interesting point.

  89. 89
    Paul in KY says:

    @Kylroy: Blacks were brought here, ripped away from their homes. Native Americans were beaten by a more cohesive & numerous foe (us).

  90. 90
    Kylroy says:

    @Loneoak: Yes, but to the best of my knowledge, case by case reparations is not what TNC endorses. Most (well, nearly all) black people suffered economic losses that they will not be able to meet the usual legal level of proof to be compensated.

  91. 91
    El Caganer says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader: And he’ll get Mexico to pay for it!

  92. 92
    cokane says:

    @Mnemosyne: that’s a separate lawsuit that will be settled on the merits of its case. If someone is facing discrimination today, there are legal protections and recourses. Are you arguing that the government has to go out and do something extralegal because it’s a case of discrimination? This is not how things work in a democracy that wants to maintain rule of law.

  93. 93
    Brachiator says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Since blacks are automatically tossed into the lower classes, it seems like it’s race based. The race thing was the divide and conquer strategy.

    American apartheid was always based on caste (and property), not class.

    People refuse to understand the distinction and how this created the ideal buffer between whites and blacks. No matter how poor a white person was, American apartheid helped insure that he or she would not seek common areas of agreement with or help from African Americans.

    This is also one of the reasons why reductive economic explanations or solutions are insufficient to explain or to provide remedies for American apartheid. Ironically, this also applies to TNC’s empty insistence on reparations, which by themselves would do nothing to eliminate or even address racism.

  94. 94
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @maurinsky:

    We have never compensated those Americans who are descended from slaves for the wrong that was done to them. Never.

    Absolutely correct, and it’s shameful. We have also never compensated those Americans who are descended from the people who lived in what is now the US prior to European arrival for the wrong that was done to them. This is also shameful. And I wish those people had a TNC with as large a media reach.

  95. 95
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Cacti:

    My response was to the tendency of (typically white) lefties to authoritatively state “the real reasons for racism”.

    Since they’re the racists, wouldn’t they best know why they’re racist?

  96. 96
    Kylroy says:

    @Paul in KY: Yes, and? How does that affect the reparations each group is due?

  97. 97
    Cacti says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Attacking anyone who doesn’t jump in lockstep with you on anything is no way to win friends and influence people. You’re going to have to give on something. Demanding an end to all racism everywhere right fucking now is pretty much in tune with our friends the forced birthers and their absurd demands. Also assuming that anyone who dares to disagree with you is Dick Cheney in drag isn’t helpful, either

    Who said I was out to win your friendship?

    I’m just skewering your paternalistic twaddle about TNC needing to “know the full history of this”.

    Silly black man. What would he know about racism? He needs to have a seat and listen to the white people who know better.

  98. 98
    Loneoak says:

    @Kylroy: It doesn’t have to be “usual legal level.” We’re not talking about court cases, we’re talking about an administered program.

    TNC has actually never endorsed specific parameters for reparations, to my knowledge (could be wrong at this point). And my point doesn’t really require his endorsement, anyway. TNC is not the only person pushing this topic, he’s just the one with the biggest mic.

  99. 99
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mnemosyne: The ongoing sins need to be addressed, and need to be addressed with alacrity.

    Of course, they will not be. Because there is just too much individual interest against doing something about it, which may or may not be based solely on race, but also on individual economic gain or loss.

    If only we could wave a wand and change human nature.

  100. 100
    Kylroy says:

    @Cacti: “Who said I was out to win your friendship?”

    Well, nobody. But if you want to enact policy in the U.S., you have to deal with that pesky democracy thing. And while that doesn’t necessarily mean winning friends, it does involve getting people to agree with your point of view. Which isn’t usually helped by calling their opinion “paternalistic twaddle”. (Regardless of whether it is or not.)

  101. 101
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Cacti: Now you’re inventing thoughts for me. Thank you. I’ll try to think of a suitable way to repay you for your kindness.

  102. 102
    Paul in KY says:

    @Brachiator: It’s just that one white person (Irish, French, Italian) can pass for another (English/American Brahmin, etc) and thus get into the ‘higher society’ (by marriage) while there’s no way a Black person or South Asian/Indian, etc can do that.

  103. 103
    Cacti says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Of course, what TNC doesn’t want to do is face the full history of this, which supports Bernie’s position on economic inequality.

    Silly TNC. Have a seat and listen to Bernie.

    Did you know that he marched with MLK?

  104. 104
    Mnemosyne says:

    This is just me, but I’ve been leaning towards the word “restitution,” partly because “reparations” has become a loaded word, and partly because it has more of a connotation of returning stolen property to its rightful owner.

    Here’s one restitution idea: urban schools must be rebuilt with the same facilities, student/teacher ratio, and materials as the best suburban public schools. Pools, tracks, theaters, 15 students per class, healthy food in the cafeteria, school nurses and psychologists, AP classes, vocational certificate classes, the whole 9 yards.

    Yeah, it will cost money. Don’t be a cheap bastard.

  105. 105
    gvg says:

    Economically it’s impossible because the number is so big AND then we get into all the other groups especially Native Americans who also have claims and everybody would be rivals so it will devolve into nonsense committee meetings and no sense of justice.
    I want a better justice system. I just do. With justice for all. I think we would be better off and might actually reach a consensus if that was a reparations goal. Fair trials. Fair arrests. no skin colors, no economic status. Evidence should be scientific and standards for evidence. Results should be monitored for bias trends before we have a prison industry with a significant % of minorities in jail.
    Then Financial industry regulation and monitoring with penalties both criminal and financial that deter for things like the mortgage fraud. somebody had a good idea about new fair rate loans for those who got screwed.
    I am not sure what else we need but it just sends rage right through my white body every time I read another of the stories happening today and I don’t think a mortal judge could figure out a fair judgement for restitution today.
    I didn’t make anyone a slave and I am not responsible for some random gene donors actions BUT I am responsible for what is happening today based on collective voting and my society. Not exactly personally responsible, but civicly responsible and I want it to be right.
    So I have learned a lot form TaNeisi but I don’t reach the same conclusions. My morals and sense of justice say we don’t send people to prison because of relatives actions but we do for their own actions. We are into specific justice not tribal. So that is why I think a lot of people who try not to be racists, just won’t agree with huge reparations. A call for a multipronged reform of justice though is I think more possible.

  106. 106
    C.V. Danes says:

    Reparations is a fight that should be fought, just like the fight that led up to the Civil Rights Act needed to be fought. But passing the Civil Rights Act also led to the rise of Nixon, the successful execution of the Southern Strategy, and so on.

    This is a fight that should be fought. But there will be repercussions, and the repercussions will be quite ugly. People should be mindful of this, and prepared.

  107. 107
    El Caganer says:

    @Kylroy: I’d say one place the Federal government failed was by not enforcing the 14th Amendment. It permitted (and in cases like the noted liberal Woodrow Wilson, encouraged) grotesquely unequal applications of the law.

  108. 108
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Kylroy: How it works without pissing a lot of people off who, while they may benefit without realizing it from a heritage of racism, can say that they were born well after the predicate wrong was ended to be held responsible for it.

    While I can see the utility of the “sins of the fathers” approach to a society in which inheriting your position by accident of birth may be useful, it’s in conflict with our ideals about individuals being responsible for their own actions and not the actions of others.

    This is all very complex, very difficult, and for all practical purposes impossible to come to a consensus on.

  109. 109
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    You don’t have to wave a wand when you can put legislation and regulations in place that make it more difficult for lenders to discriminate on the basis of race. But since all problems are based in economics, we can’t have race-based solutions because that’s unfair to white people who might have gotten swindled, too, if only someone had thought of it.

  110. 110
    Paul in KY says:

    @Kylroy: IMO, Blacks more deserve reparations/restitution. They didn’t do anything at all to end up how they did. American Indians (mostly their leaders back in late 18th/early 19th centuries) on the other hand, made bad strategic/tactical decisions that contributed to their getting run off the continent.

    Once we had conquered them, there are many, many things we have done to them that would probably justify some compensation, but there was a war and it was handled very badly by the Indians & that fact (IMO) contributes some to how they ended up where they are today.

    Both minorities have been abused by the dominant culture.

  111. 111
    Keith G says:

    @The Other Chuck: A few days ago, the New York Observer put up an article, Black Americans Defend Sanders Against Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Biased and Baseless Attacks. Now as the headline shows, the piece is too interested in being simplistic and dismissive to be much good, but as often the case in such things, the reader comments can be interesting to scan. The points you mention were brought up thusly:

    Can I ask you what type of reparations you are for, why and who will pay? I am a descendant of African slaves, the union of an African slave and the son of a white slave owner, an African slave and a white European slave on my father’s side, a native American and an African slave, a white slave owner and an African slave on my mother’s side…

    Who pays?

    The only reparations I will ever stand for is the leveling of the field that gives equal acces to education, healthcare, employment and treatment by law enforcement and the judiciary and the total removal of any skin color privilege.

    PAY IT FORWARD…Forgive the wrongs done by ancestors to ancestors (WHITE AND BLACK AND NATIVE AMERICAN (everybody who could did practice it) and let the past be the past. We need to build a FUTURE.
    Like · Reply · Jan 24, 2016 4:52pm

    Beyond that, what strikes me is that the reparations topic is not being brought up at this time of it’s own singular social importance, but being brought up as a weapon to be used in a greater and Whiter political race.

    I am trying to figure out what to think about that.

  112. 112
    Keith G says:

    @Paul in KY:

    American Indians (mostly their leaders back in late 18th/early 19th centuries) on the other hand, made bad strategic/tactical decisions that contributed to their getting run off the continent.

    Wow. Just wow.

  113. 113
    Paul in KY says:

    @Mnemosyne: I think ‘restitution’ is a much better word than ‘reparations’. Politically, anyway.

  114. 114
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mnemosyne: Also unfair to indigenous peoples, to Hispanics, to Asians, etc.

    Why not we be fair to everyone? To use the power of government to mitigate the unfairness of life? Well, for one thing, we’ll be “unfair” to those born on third base, the poor dears.

  115. 115
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Here’s perhaps another way to look at it: the Supreme Court decided against Lily Ledbetter because she didn’t find out about the predicate wrong done to her (the initial decision to pay her much less based on her gender) until years later. So you agree with Scalia et al that it’s okay to continue discriminating against and oppressing people if the original wrong done to them happened long enough ago?

  116. 116
    Kylroy says:

    @C.V. Danes: Yeah, I’m worried that whoever rises from the backlash on this will make Trump look like FDR.

  117. 117
    Kylroy says:

    @Keith G: Seriously. “Your leaders made some bad decisions 150 years ago, so now you deserve less recompense.” FFS, some black leaders decided to sell their war captives to Europeans in the 1600s – does this somehow affect reparations?

  118. 118
    Amir Khalid says:

    Off topic, sorry, but there’s no current open thread. RIP Abe Vigoda.

  119. 119
    Paul in KY says:

    @Keith G: They did. Different decisions at different times might have them still with a piece of US, maybe not, but they mainly didn’t help themselves at all by not recognizing the threat & uniting. We (US government, etc.) were continuously playing one tribe off another. That was very bad problem on their side & they should have addressed it. Tecumseh understood & tried, but he was let down by his relatives.

  120. 120
    WarMunchkin says:

    A lot of people are proposing economic policies for the actual form of reparations. But they conveniently just happen to be liberal goals anyway.

    Reparations are meant to be a race-specific redress for a race-specific injury. This figure was tossed out before: $25,000 per person. And someone tossed out the phrase “40 acres and a mule”, and that failed pretty spectacularly as well.

    I think that 10,000 dollars per year, COLA adjusted, per person who can claim a black American or African ancestry, for the next fifty years, is a bare minimum start. This could be funded via federal property taxes, and we could also, while we’re at it, remove the awful practice of funding schools via property taxes.

  121. 121
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mnemosyne: Nope. Don’t agree with Scalia on anything I can think of that’s out in public. Perhaps he prefers DS9 to TNG, then we’d agree on something. However, setting a defacto statute of limitations on the discovery of a predicate wrong is basically justice denied, which is just fine with guys like Scalia as long as they benefit in some way from it.

    We need to fix this. HOW we fix it is the question, and I don’t think “reparations” are the way to do it, because that just opens up a new can of worms to deal with. “Restitution”, however, with teeth to enforce it, sounds a lot more like what needs to happen.

  122. 122
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Paul in KY: a strong case can be made for Lincoln based on his having hundreds of thousands of confederates killed. But that’s not the case that most people who choose Lincoln make. His history (which includes pretty ugly racism) has been whitewashed just as MLK’s left-wing economic agenda has been whitewashed. (And of course, FDR’s support for stealing the property and liberty of Americans based on their ethnicity.)

    Basically, Lincoln is a popular choice in part because people don’t know his whole record and map their own preferences onto hypothetical surviving Lincoln. The problem is that Clinton’s map includes the “reconstruction bad” narrative that too many kids are still taught, to the extent they learn about that part of history at all. She still can arrive at good policy notwithstanding this ignorance, but the ignorance is a negative.

  123. 123
    cokane says:

    There’s something weirdly narcissistic about trying to resolve the great injustices in history, and to do so with just some cash. But what do reparations do for forms of racism or other discrimination experienced today? I’m not sure what it does to solve the discrepancy in schools, the justice system, hiring practices and a host of other things. But I am sure that a post-reparations world would create a whole lot more inertia for reforming out the bias in these institutions.

  124. 124
    Kylroy says:

    @Paul in KY: Practically all colonialism everywhere was aided by disaffected locals. (That the locals have caught on to this fact is what makes modern colonialism so hard.) “We divide and conquered you off this land fair and square” does not strike me as a compelling argument for reducing liability.

  125. 125
    Keith G says:

    @Paul in KY: Yeah, Paul. And if only they had not been wearing sexy clothing, they might have gotten home okay.

  126. 126
    Paul in KY says:

    @Kylroy: Not over here. We are talking about here. The blacks that arrived here did nothing ‘over here’ to end up here. The Indians had the continent till we showed up. They had a chance (IMO) to keep a part of it or minimize our invasion. They did not do that & that’s why (IMO) Blacks have a better case than American Indians.

    Both have a good case, but if you are asking me ‘who has a better one’, that’s my answer. If you don’t like it, tough shit.

  127. 127
    Brachiator says:

    @Paul in KY:

    It’s just that one white person (Irish, French, Italian) can pass for another (English/American Brahmin, etc) and thus get into the ‘higher society’ (by marriage) while there’s no way a Black person or South Asian/Indian, etc can do that.

    The rules were arbitrary and insane, and designed to prevent people of African ancestry from advancing in society. South Asians/Indians perplexed racists, but were not excluded in the same way.

    In the early days of live television, for example, the [East] Indian musician Korla Pandit charmed and fascinated audiences playing the organ, as Liberace later charmed audiences with his piano playing. With his turban and dreamy eyes, he made the ladies swoon. You can check out a clip of him here.

    The Indian, Korla Pandit was OK fine for American TV, the Godfather of Exotica. But as African American John Roland Redd, born in not so exotic Missouri, he could play supper clubs and lounges, but not star in his own show on television.

  128. 128
    Kylroy says:

    @WarMunchkin: Again, in what world does a race-specific guaranteed income actually become policy?

  129. 129
    Paul in KY says:

    @Bobby Thomson: I like FDR, because he was a Democrat, started Social Security, whupped Nazi Germany (along with USSR & Great Britain) & loved to kick Republican ass.

    He, of course, also made mistakes as well.

  130. 130
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @Keith G: My response exactly. Wow.

  131. 131
    Paul in KY says:

    @Keith G: Good one, Keith!

  132. 132
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @Paul in KY:

    We (US government, etc.) were continuously playing one tribe off another. That was very bad problem on their side & they should have addressed it.

    Rather like she should have dressed more modestly.

  133. 133
    Mnemosyne says:

    @WarMunchkin:

    I understand the appeal of cash reparations because, frankly, so far the US government has an absolutely horrible record of following through on their promises (see also Native Americans). Cold hard cash in hand is (theoretically) something they can’t take away from you, unlike the ultimately empty promises of urban redevelopment, improved schools, enforcement against racist business practices, etc. that have been seen before.

    I’m honestly not sure that cash is the solution but, based on that long history of broken promises, I sure understand its appeal.

  134. 134
    WarMunchkin says:

    @Kylroy: I should specify. I’m more interested right now about what reparations actually look like, independently of the political process. If I were to include the political process, I wouldn’t be able to get a resolution proclaiming the sky is blue through Congress, so it’s a moot point.

    Things I’ve come up with with random thoughts:
    – Cash payouts for a nontrivially long period of time to black Americans, every year, funded by federal property taxes.
    – Amnesty on business taxes levied on any black business owners or property owners for a nontrivially long time (~150 years).
    -Transfer of federally held non reserved Western lands to Americans who can claim American black or African ancestry.
    – Total and absolute free college, including for private colleges, for anyone who can claim American black or African ancestry. Modify the GI Bill to instead provide an in-kind living stipend for black soldiers.

    I should also mention that I believe some of this to be unconstitutional, but again, what does just reparations actually look like?

  135. 135
    Betty Cracker says:

    @WarMunchkin: So, if my math is correct, that’s a program cost of approximately $20 trillion over the next 50 years, assuming there are no cost of living increases, in which case it would be higher.

  136. 136
    Paul in KY says:

    @Brachiator: I was specifically talking about South Indians (those with darker skins). If a non-South Indian looks completely white, then they could ‘pass’ too & do the intermarriage advancement thing. If you are dark or obviously Asian, you couldn’t do that.

  137. 137
    Joel says:

    @John Carter: None of that compares to chattel slavery. Not even close.

  138. 138
    Kylroy says:

    @Betty Cracker: TNC’s two examples of reparations are the U.S.’s Japanese internment reparations, and Germany’s reparations to Israel.

    The former was claimants or their immediate heirs receiving compensation for a specific wrong, something our courts do every day; it was unusual in scope and the nature of the payor, but not in form.

    The latter was one nation paying reparations to another, something that has been done since…probably the beginning of recorded history. Germany had a recognizable route to pay reparations to the Jews, since the Jews had just been expressly awarded their own country. No comparable mechanism exists to award money to an ethnic group within a nation.

  139. 139
    Paul in KY says:

    @a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q): Is that a fucking strategy or not? Were we trying to conquer them or not?

    If we were, then there were things you can do (in hindsight) to try & stop the process. IMO, they did not do that. That war was no different than England conquering Wales or the Mongols conquering what they did.

  140. 140
    Kylroy says:

    @WarMunchkin: “…what does just reparations actually look like?”

    Everyone not of Native American descent leaving the country?

  141. 141
    Ben Cisco says:

    @Amir Khalid: Didn’t lose his edge in his later years, either: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVKEo2vPaZw

  142. 142
    Amir Khalid says:

    @WarMunchkin:
    Race-based affirmative action? We’ve been at it in Malaysia for decades. It has a way of breeding resentment in non-beneficiary groups, to put it mildly. And this is in a country whose constitution gives native ethnic groups a privileged position. I’m not so sure that it would pass constitutional or political muster in the USA.

  143. 143
    Marc says:

    Reparations are based on a whole string of assumptions, they would be intensely divisive in practice, and there isn’t even a coherent proposal about them that’s being presented. If they’re about present day discrimination, make it about that – which impacts a lot of groups besides AAs and has more mainstream support. If they’re about past history, then you have to disentangle a century and a half of elapsed time. Neither concern is trivial. Neither is even addressed by anything like an actual proposal – in no small part because the tensions above would make even building anything concrete daunting.

    It’s pretty damn amusing to see the same people attacking Sanders for an unrealistic health care plan also attacking him because he doesn’t support a vague and intensely unpopular idea that they like.

  144. 144
    What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us? says:

    @The Other Chuck: It may shut them up, but it doesn’t change their minds, unfortunately. I’ve had right wingers tell me I’m completely wrong on that point and that I need to learn some history. My usual response is to name some of the several volumes on the Civil War I’ve read and ask them to quiz me on the historical facts, at which point their response is usually something along the lines of “well, I don’t really know that much about Civil War history, but you must have been reading nothing but the NAACP approved version.” Like they know anything about other historic eras either. It doesn’t change their minds about whether they’re right or not. They’re in a George Costanza world – as long as they believe it’s true, it is.

    I think Lincoln would have forgiven secession. Whether he would have been so forgiving of Jim Crow I have my doubts.

  145. 145
    WarMunchkin says:

    @Betty Cracker: That sounds a bit low to be fair I guess. I was trying to shoot for Iraq War numbers, but looks like even the cost of the Iraq war would pale against cost of just reparations.

  146. 146
    ksmiami says:

    @WarMunchkin: Disagree – The best we can do is build equality of opportunity for all. Good schools, roads, infrastructure programs – fairer lending and hiring practices – free wifi for all – basically a NEW NEW deal and a complete rehaul of policing and criminal justice systems root and branch. Society will be better off and it will permeate through poor white /latino/indian communities as well. I still believe it is better to unite people than divide them and reparations will never be enough to make up for what and who was lost since the first African-Americans were brought to the US.

  147. 147
    Brachiator says:

    @Paul in KY:

    I was specifically talking about South Indians (those with darker skins). If a non-South Indian looks completely white, then they could ‘pass’ too & do the intermarriage advancement thing. If you are dark or obviously Asian, you couldn’t do that.

    The race laws of American apartheid singled out people of African ancestry, no matter how dark or light, not South Indians, even if they were dark.

  148. 148
    Kylroy says:

    @Betty Cracker: Yeah, that’s approximately five full years of the federal budget, being given to 12% of the population. We’re talking about a nation voluntarily submitting to Treaty of Versaille level payments.

    And this is why I think talking about reparations is just so much wankery.

  149. 149
    catclub says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym: Needs a reference to reparations from Cuba for stolen US property for better cognitive dissonance.

  150. 150
    Paul in KY says:

    @Brachiator: I’m talking about Irish people & other ethnic European minorities (at the time) who were able to better themselves by pretending (or having everyone assume) they were not what they were & then marrying into rich, established families & improving themselves that way.

    That (above) cannot be done by a black person or someone who looks black/Asian. That’s all I was saying.

  151. 151
    Mnemosyne says:

    @ksmiami:

    Society will be better off and it will permeate through poor white /latino/indian communities as well.

    Except, of course, the promised “permeation” never actually happens. It never has. Promising that this time it’s totally going to happen, no, seriously, we really mean it this time is like when your big brother promises he’s not going to punch you in the arm again. You know he will, and he knows he will, but everyone expects you to sit next to him and pretend it’s not going to happen again.

  152. 152
    Mnemosyne says:

    Also, too, people talking about the NEW New Deal remember that African-Americans were deliberately and systematically left out of the original New Deal, right? On average, African-Americans got about 1/3rd of the benefits that whites did, by design.

    Talking about the “New Deal’ has a slightly different resonance for black people than it does for white people, to say the least. It’s yet another example of economic assistance being for me and not for thee.

  153. 153
    Linnaeus says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Except, of course, the promised “permeation” never actually happens

    I wouldn’t go quite that far. I would say that the “permeation” that does happen is necessary, but not sufficient, because some groups don’t fully benefit from broad-based remedies and that requires other actions in addition that address the particular circumstances of those who don’t get equal benefit.

  154. 154
    Kylroy says:

    @Mnemosyne: Well, it does generally make things *better*. Just doesn’t do much to make them *equal*.

  155. 155
    Paul in KY says:

    @Mnemosyne: That was one of FDR’s mistakes. His staff included some hardcore racists & he listened too much to them, IMO.

  156. 156
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Linnaeus:

    True. A rising tide lifts all boats, but that conceals the fact that the people whose boats start out at the lowest level never manage to get as high as everyone else. Economic justice is important, but not sufficient, which is what a lot of us are saying here.

  157. 157
    WarMunchkin says:

    Listen, yeah, reparations, if actually done, would cost a tremendous and unimaginable sum of money, land and other forms of capital. My perspective is this:

    A prominent black American has come to us, the dictators of the United States of Balloon Juice and demanded reparations for recent, modern injustices done to black Americans, in a race-specific ways. Being that we are the dictators and therefore have sums of trillions of dollars in tax revenue, plus debt financing, with inflation well-regulated and USBJ bonds at AAAA rating, what is the best way to give black Americans redress? That is the starting scenario.

    Treaty of Versailles level reparations seems, again, low. Again, this whole discussion may be a walk, but I’m trying to address the question of what *should* happen, not what *can* happen. What should I be in favor of, if it were put to a small-d democratic vote rather than a small-r republican one.

  158. 158
    msdc says:

    @Paul in KY:

    IMO, Blacks more deserve reparations/restitution. They didn’t do anything at all to end up how they did. American Indians (mostly their leaders back in late 18th/early 19th centuries) on the other hand, made bad strategic/tactical decisions that contributed to their getting run off the continent.

    Oh, well, as long as you can create a hierarchy of oppression I’m sure everybody will rally behind your just and noble cause.

  159. 159
    rikyrah says:

    One good way to address this, I think, is:

    Over the period from 1965 to about 1995, white Americans reluctantly agreed that, yes, we’d spent three hundred years stealing all of African-Americans’ stuff. We’re sorry, and we promise not to do it anymore, but it would be reverse racism for African-Americans to ask for any of their stuff back.

    So simple…so true.

  160. 160
    Brachiator says:

    @Kylroy:

    TNC’s two examples of reparations are the U.S.’s Japanese internment reparations, and Germany’s reparations to Israel.

    Reparations to Japanese Americans were symbolic. They were not meant to make whole their losses. This is also the case in the very recent agreement between Japan and South Korea, in which Japan apologizes for the exploitation of South Koreans forced to become “comfort women.” There is an apology and reparations of $8.3 million. The agreement also includes the following:

    The Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers, announcing the agreement in Seoul, said each side considered it a “final and irreversible resolution” of the issue.

    This means that the issue cannot be brought up again by either government, even though obviously it may not be a closed subject to the actual victims.

    There is a case to be made for reparations to African Americans, but it would not resolve the larger problem of racism in America. And I could also see some of bad faith saying, “here’s some money. Case closed. We don’t want to hear from you again.”

  161. 161
    Paul in KY says:

    @msdc: I was asked who deserved them more. I answered.

    As an edit to my comment above that you excerpted, the worst decisions were probably made by the early 17th Century to early 18th century Indians & their leaders. Once we got too much of a foothold & realized how fractured they were, it was more-or-less a done deal (in hindsight, of course).

  162. 162
    kindness says:

    I have huge respect for TNC. I agree with most his positions. Except reparations for decendants of slaves..

    If TNC wanted Republican supermajorities w/ Republican executive control then reparations is a cause to die on because if Democrats start saying reparations should go forth that is exactly what would happen.

    Sorry. I don’t want to die on that point. It isn’t worth the pain it would cause. It isn’t worth President Trump or Cruz.

  163. 163
    ksmiami says:

    @Mnemosyne: Still better to try to aim high and get 80 percent than to do nothing and yes I am quite aware that social security and new deal programs were very white oriented the first time around (note – my yugoslav farming grandparents were never eligible for social security). However, I’d like to think we could be more broad-based this time since any type of national new deal program would only come on the heels of a massive democratic party retrenchment. I think what TNC and others would like to hear is that a lot of the so called wealth gaps / achievement gaps among races in the US were the end result of over 200 years of systemic and endemic forces that degraded the work, dignity, achievement and lives of African Americans and without acknowledging this simple fact, we can’t get to a more inclusive future. See Flint, MI.

  164. 164
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Linnaeus: “Anti-racism is just a distraction from the struggle for economic justice” is still a quite popular position among white-dude leftists on Internet comment boards. Mostly older ones, I think, but they can make a lot of noise.

    They get that racial divisions are how elites get half of the working class to fight the other half, but they keep blaming the wrong people for it.

  165. 165
    Kylroy says:

    @Paul in KY: Thing is, if he hadn’t listened to them, the southern voters that made up a huge chunk of his coalition would have abandoned him in a heartbeat.

  166. 166
    msdc says:

    @Paul in KY: You answered a rhetorical question designed to point out the impossibility of reallocating property based on centuries-old moral claims. You certainly made its point.

  167. 167
    boatboy_srq says:

    @maurinsky: FYWP ate my last (lengthier) response…

    Shorter:

    US schools did an abysmal job of teaching the history of the United States outside the White Male Christian experience until fairly recently, and recent efforts to change that have been stifled by the Good People of unnamed (cough cough Texas cough) states eager to perpetuate the misinformation.

    And Dems were until Civil Rights the party of the Deliberately Unreconstructed South and the Wilfully Wild West. Modern Dems are more interested in addressing the ills of the Now than recognizing and atoning for the evils of a century ago; and while that’s a legitimate debate subject it also plays into TNC’s perspective, just as it does for the newly-conservatist Rethugs all too eager to use that history against voting blocs with long social memories and inadequate defenses against such propagandization.

    TNC clearly wants a Democratic party willing to admit all its warts and strive for something better overall. But he also wants a Democratic party that can win elections, because an unapologetic conservatistism is the current alternative. It’s a valid point that having the one may mean sacrificing the other, at least for the time being.

  168. 168
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Paul in KY:

    IMO, Blacks more deserve reparations/restitution. They didn’t do anything at all to end up how they did. American Indians (mostly their leaders back in late 18th/early 19th centuries) on the other hand, made bad strategic/tactical decisions that contributed to their getting run off the continent.

    It goes back so much further than that. The Indians had already been whittled down and softened up by apocalyptic plagues back in the 16th and 17th centuries, and the whites figured all that was the imprimatur of God Himself telling them to take all the land. Nothing was going to stop them.

    I don’t think this kind of analysis of victim culpability is a good road to go down, in general. Apologists for the slave system like to emphasize that Africans sold other Africans into slavery, but so what?

    By the way, Coates generally insists that it isn’t white people (or direct descendants of slaveowners, or whatever) who are obligated to pay these reparations, it’s the United States as a whole. This isn’t about blood guilt, it’s about the responsibility of a society to make some kind of restitution for injustices that are still going on. And I’d argue that if anything American Indians have it even worse today.

    I don’t think any of this is remotely politically feasible under current circumstances, and I would be shocked if any major candidate running for President actually endorsed reparations. I do think the idea is a good one to keep pushing on in order to motivate exploration of what we maybe could do someday. “Water under the bridge, just forget it” isn’t a good answer.

  169. 169
    Heliopause says:

    Not only could I not have said it better myself, I don’t think I could have said it on my best day.

    C’mon, Zandar, let’s not get carried away. What Coates is saying is a perfectly mundane observation that gets said, literally, a million times every day on the internet. It’s Lesser-of-Two-Evils theory in more florid prose.

    It’s also an interesting backtrack from his previous two pieces. I mean, it was just a throwaway comment by Clinton that he could easily have let go but chose not to, after being criticized, amongst other things, for a lack of balance in the previous two columns. I don’t know what to make of Coates doing exactly what he just got done proclaiming he didn’t have to do, it’s a bit weird.

  170. 170
    Linnaeus says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    “Anti-racism is just a distraction from the struggle for economic justice” is still a quite popular position among white-dude leftists on Internet comment boards. Mostly older ones, I think, but they can make a lot of noise.

    That may be true, but I don’t think that’s generally representative of leftist thinking on race, even among white leftists. It’s definitely not representative of white leftist scholars, whatever their shortcomings may be.

  171. 171
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    I’m not so sure that it would pass constitutional or political muster in the USA

    Ha! That’s a very understated way to say “not a fucking chance”

  172. 172
    Kylroy says:

    @kindness: I’ve respected TNC’s work on this, figuring he was approaching this as the start of something that may come to fruition in another 50+ years. (I disagree with him on this – I don’t think the mostly-Hispanic US of 2066 will be any more eager to give trillions of dollars to 12% of the population than the mostly-white US of 2016.) I don’t think bringing this up directly to a presidential candidate today does anything more than point out just how wildly unfeasible it is. Other nations have built single-payer healthcare systems – no democratic nation has ever agreed to pay trillions of dollars solely on the basis of a moral argument.

  173. 173
    kc says:

    @gwangung:

    Indeed, it is rare for liberals to openly admit this.

    Now, perhaps we can get to the point where liberals to consciously admit that.

    What’s the difference between “openly” and “consciously?”

  174. 174
    kc says:

    It’s fun to see who the “purity trolls” are now.

  175. 175
    jl says:

    I’ve been pretty critical of Sanders recently, but I don’t think Coates is correct that Sanders ‘seems uncomfortable asking whether the history of racist violence, in and of itself, is worthy of confrontation’. Sanders has said so explicitly many times in his speeches and town halls.

    From the link, it seems to me that Coates makes support for reparations an acid test for Sanders on the issue of racial justice. But is O’Malley or HRC supporting reparations?

    I think Coates just doesn’t like Sanders, mainly because he has a stereotype of some kind of necessary connection between a frankly and openly progressive agenda on economics, and white bigotry (and I agree there is an historical association, but that doesn’t mean it has to continue, and I think Sanders is a very good person to break that association).

  176. 176
    sherparick says:

    @Kylroy: Frankly, Hispanics, particularly of Mexican descent, and Native Americans also have a moral claim to reparations. Roughly a 1/3rd of the country, including its richest two states, California and Texas, were conquered from Mexico, their land grants legally stolen from them, (http://lawschool.unm.edu/nrj/v.....hiller.pdf), and subjected to an apartheid system as much as African Americans up to and including the 1960s. Regarding Native Americans, just read everything from King Phillips war to the current occupation of ancestral Paiute land by a bunch of white cowboys in Oregon.

    Bernie’s particular problem with the white working class is that he thinks the majority are backing Trump out of “false consciousness” as Marxists would call it. But “racial” and “tribal” identities or no more false, or true, then “class” identity. White working class people, particularly white working class men, psychologically and materially benefit from “white privilege,” and because their material and psychic cushion is less then their white professionals and upper middle class, they feel the pain of the decline of white privilege and male patriarchy much more. Hence their adherence to Trump who promises a restoration.

  177. 177
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Matt McIrvin: The one problem with reparations for either group is that it was (under the various colonies and the US) largely the same group of colonists/settlers/whatever responsible for both. The West was filled with former Confederate soldiers, who took their views of other peoples with them (prior to that it was the Manifest Destiny (to Settle the Land and Convert the Savages) who settled the Midwest, and prior to that it was Catholic France/Spain/Portugal vs. (mostly) Protestant England/Netherlands who met the natives and converted/opposed/allied-with the same). “Reparations” to Native Americans offends the sensibilities of the same groups who oppose reparations to Those People™ because freeing them was enough goldarnit and why aren’t they grateful for that… It’s a very hard sell to a group still aggrieved of being denied all their Property™ for which they paid so much. Civil Rights for the descendants of the original Those People™ has been a titanic struggle; suggesting that modern-day Those People deserve more than that is for them a non-starter, and no argument put forward today is likely to change their minds.

  178. 178
    gene108 says:

    I don’t see what Hillary said is wrong.

    Reconstruction was wildly unpopular in the South. Who knows what would have been, if Lincoln served out his second term. Maybe the whole sad legacy of Jim Crow could have been avoided.

    Now, if you want to argue, whether the U.S. government should have stuck with Reconstruction or been more aggressive in equality for African-Americans, I think that is a separate debate.

    What I got from her Townhall comment was a statement many people in this country wonder about what might have been had Lincoln lived.

  179. 179
    Mnemosyne says:

    @ksmiami:

    Still better to try to aim high and get 80 percent than to do nothing…

    It’s very easy for you (and I) to sit back and tell people they should be happy with 80 percent when we know full well that we’re going to get 100 percent. Which is kind of the point — African-Americans are tired of being told they should be happy getting less than white people do because at least they weren’t left out altogether.

    Let’s put this back to childhood again. It’s Christmas. You have two children. You give one of your children a brand new $300 video game system. You give the other child a $2 pack of playing cards. Should the second child be grateful that you got him anything at all since you could have given him nothing? Do you get upset when he tells you that what you did was unfair?

  180. 180
    Brachiator says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    A rising tide lifts all boats, but that conceals the fact that the people whose boats start out at the lowest level never manage to get as high as everyone else.

    Never? This comes close to a condescending liberal racism which would mark black people as a permanent victim class whose members can never fully succeed without some extra assistance. Reparations become not a matter of justice, but a crutch.

    And this view lets contemporary racist whites off the hook, who can shrug their shoulders and say, “it’s not my fault for being racist right now, it’s just history.”

  181. 181
    Betty Cracker says:

    @gene108: That’s kinda the way I took it at first too upon hearing it live when I wasn’t paying super-close attention, but after reading the transcript, she worded it awkwardly to say the least, which exposed her to the criticism.

    @jl: I get that feeling too about Coates and Sanders…and it’s not just Coates.

    @Heliopause: Interesting thought about the “balance.” The accusations that Coates is in the bag for Clinton are daft, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t dismiss them and try to address them too. Happens all the time.

  182. 182
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Brachiator:

    In the rising tide scenario we’re talking about, where the economy improves everyone’s financial status but does nothing for structural inequality, the situation is never fully improved for those at the bottom. The extra money does not automatically make up for the reduced opportunities for things like education and employment.

    This was, in fact, the exact situation that triggered the Civil Rights Movement: African-Americans realized after the war that their improved economic situation didn’t change the fact that they were still second-class citizens, and there was a decades-long struggle to try and change that.

    A study done a few years ago showed that resumes of white men with felony conviction records got more calls for interviews than identical resumes of black men with no criminal record. The rising tide that lifts all boats does jack shit to change that.

  183. 183
    Darkrose says:

    @Linnaeus: Umm, that’s pretty much exactly what half of the comments in this thread have been.

  184. 184
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Darkrose: Trouble is that “Black/Brown/Female/Queer/Other Lives Matter” gets awkward to say on a bumper sticker, selecting any one group from that leaves the others feeling abandoned or diminished, and addressing all their woes as purely economic injustice is unsatisfying to those with legitimate racial, ethnic or gender-specific beefs with 21st century society.

  185. 185
    Linnaeus says:

    @Darkrose:

    Those comments have received some pretty robust pushback from a number of other commenters. Plus, we’re talking about a self-selected group here.

    I don’t mean to make too much of this – there’s a need to discuss the various interactions of class, race, gender, sexuality, etc. – I just bristled a little at what I thought was an overgeneralization.

  186. 186
    PhoenixRising says:

    @gene108: I would have agreed with you had I not read 3 books about Lincoln and the Civil War, promoted by Coates at his old blog, published during the time Hillary was busy being Secretary of State.

    The fact is that a lot of people wondering that same thing, because they had the same inadequate HS or college history, doesn’t make it a sound thing to wonder–it just means that a lot of people share HRC’s lack of accurate knowledge on a topic they learned in school.

    I’m not criticizing her for not knowing better; she’s been busy. But it’s not wrong to point out that her answer, while predictable (ask a white daughter of Illinois for her favorite President and you’re gonna get…exactly that if she’s smart and a capable campaigner) is still wrongheaded and based on an outdated version of this nation’s past that is holding us back. Because it’s so widely understood to be factual.

  187. 187
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    BLM is a sign of things to come for the Democratic party, and Democrats have a damned short window to be proactive and address those concerns. It frankly amazes me that African Americans still vote for Democrats in large numbers, given how the Dems take them for granted the way Republicans have taken Evangelicals for granted for so long.

    And seeing just how much Trump has disrupted the GOP primary process (I still don’t think he’s going to be the nominee, but he’s greatly affected who will be), don’t be surprised if we go through our own version of this nonsense in 2020 or 2024.

    Not that we have a bench to speak of.

    I think it was Deval Patrick who said in 2008 that just because the Republicans deserve to lose doesn’t mean the Democrats deserve to win. That really hasn’t changed.

  188. 188
    Heliopause says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    In his previous column Coates says, “Last week I critiqued Bernie Sanders for dismissing reparations specifically, and for offering up a series of moderate anti-racist solutions, in general. Some felt it was unfair to single out Sanders given that, on reparations, Sanders’s chief opponent Hillary Clinton holds the same position.”

    He then goes on to explain why singling out Sanders was justified.

    “Hillary Clinton has no interest in being labeled radical, left-wing, or even liberal. Thus announcing that Clinton doesn’t support reparations is akin to announcing that Ted Cruz doesn’t support a woman’s right to choose.”

    In other words, he expects no better from Clinton, that’s why he didn’t criticize her. Two days later and apparently now he does expect better from Clinton on a different but closely related question. Either he’s completely backtracking on the previous column or he’s seeing a subtle distinction that is eluding me.

  189. 189
    Mnemosyne says:

    Last bit before I go back to my desk: a couple of people have said they know someone who’s not sure if the Civil War was really caused by slavery. If so, please feel free to show them this video with a middle-aged white Army officer patiently explaining that, yes, it really was all about slavery. If they still don’t get it, you can safely write them off.

  190. 190
    dmbeaster says:

    What in the hell is TNC even talking about? I was a history major at UCLA in the 1970s. The established historiography of that era was that goals of Reconstruction as articulated by the radical Republicans (equal rights for blacks) had failed (Reconstruction formally ended in 1876, or only 11 years after the war ended), and was followed by decades of vicious backlash that left blacks in a state of semi-enslavement. Lincoln died in 1865 before any of this happened, and he was on record for a peace that was not vindictive. He was not on record for much of anything else concerning Reconstruction, although he was not a radical Republican. There was no amnesia as claimed by TNC. This is really garbage.

  191. 191
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @BGinCHI: Do you really believe that most Americans would be comfortable with a discussion on how to provide reparations to African Americans for slavery? And I am talking about Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, non-African American Blacks, etc., not just White Americans.

    I really don’t believe that discussing reparations is a fruitful way for Democrats to spend their time. If you want to discuss how to help poorer Americans, many of whom are Black Americans, you probably will get the buy in of Americans of various ethnic backgrounds/races. I think our side needs to keep it real when it comes to reparations. I just don’t see it as an issue that leads anywhere.

  192. 192
    ksmiami says:

    @Mnemosyne: I’m not saying that the ideal outcome is a perfectly ordered social structure. I’m saying a massive socio-economic and judicial re-adjustment to help alleviate some of society’s current injustices is worth attempting even if it’s not perfect. I feel like nearly 30 years of “Government always being the problem” propaganda has turned this country into a near oligarchy which doesn’t even attempt to make things better for people on the lower end of the socio-economic ladder. You are twisting my words. And as a faithful reader of TNC’s what he’s saying is that he wants national politicians to at least acknowledge that race in America overshadows a lot of other issues; something that the Bernistas are not even remotely capable of, while Hillary and most upper middle class white Americans don’t recognize that many for blacks in America, the system has failed to live up to the lofty ideals of the Constitution.

  193. 193
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Grumpy Code Monkey:

    And seeing just how much Trump has disrupted the GOP primary process (I still don’t think he’s going to be the nominee, but he’s greatly affected who will be), don’t be surprised if we go through our own version of this nonsense in 2020 or 2024.

    What do you think that would look like, on the Democratic side?

  194. 194
    oldgold says:

    This particular criticism of Hillary is baloney on steroids.

  195. 195
    kc says:

    @Heliopause:

    Either he’s completely backtracking on the previous column or he’s seeing a subtle distinction that is eluding me.

    He’s been getting some serious pushback, and not just from the likes of Chait.

  196. 196
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Grumpy Code Monkey:

    don’t be surprised if we go through our own version of this nonsense in 2020 or 2024

    We actually had a flavor of that in 2008. As far as racial/ethnic tensions being salved it hasn’t worked out so well – not because BHO has been ineffective in championing minority rights but because of the knee-jerk reactionary response from the GOTea. Dem politics may well undergo the same kind of experience, but the result – at least for the near-to-mid-term – is unlikely to be especially salutary, given the likelihood of significant and highly organised resistance.

    @Patricia Kayden:

    If you want to discuss how to help poorer Americans, many of whom are Black Americans, you probably will get the buy in of Americans of various ethnic backgrounds/races.

    Except that this already is Sanders’ approach, and TNC is clearly unimpressed by it.

  197. 197
    WereBear says:

    I could, as the possessor of two X chromosomes, point out that in our rundown of oppression, we are at comment 195 (as I type this) and no mention has been made of the unpaid work of women, who, as late as 1970, could not:

    1. Keep her job if she was pregnant.
    2. Report cases of sexual harassment in the workplace.
    3. Be acknowledged in the Boston Marathon.
    4. Get a credit card.
    5. Refuse to have sex with her husband.
    6. Compete as a boxer in the Olympics.
    7. Get a divorce with some degree of ease.
    8. Celebrate International Women’s Day.
    9. Have a legal abortion in most states.

    Ten things American women could not do

    I find that… disconcerting.

  198. 198
    boatboy_srq says:

    @WereBear: Begging to differ, and FYI you just proved the point I was making: when multiple groups are disenfranchised/oppressed, discussions of how to right specific wrongs all too often fails because multiple groups will insist their woes be addressed first.

  199. 199
    Betty Cracker says:

    @WereBear: Believe me, that thought has crossed my mind repeatedly as I read the comments in the several reparations discussions we’ve had lately.

  200. 200
    WarMunchkin says:

    I mean it sounds like one way to solve this stuff is universal basic income, with extra income for women, blacks, Native Americans, Hispanics, LGBT people, etc.

    Maybe that fails my own “don’t propose a general economic solution for a race-specific injury”, but maybe the demographic specific extra income could be specifically earmarked as reparation.

    That said, I still think it’s unconstitutional and wrong. But probably just.

  201. 201
    randy khan says:

    @Cacti:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Of course, what TNC doesn’t want to do is face the full history of this, which supports Bernie’s position on economic inequality. It is the root cause, but racism itself has obtained a life of its own, which TNC is most correct about.

    Or maybe TNC is well acquainted with the full history of this, and knows that Bernie’s class reductionist arguments are a crock.

    I have to say that sometimes it really looks like Sanders has a hammer, so everything looks like a nail. He sometimes makes the same economic justice arguments when he gets asked about women’s rights. And I must admit I find that particularly peculiar, given that abortion rights don’t exactly fit neatly in the economic justice framework. And he’s not nearly as aggressive about saying he’ll fight for women’s rights as Clinton.

  202. 202
    Citizen Alan says:

    @gene108:

    As a Southerner, I’ve often found it interesting to compare the outcomes of Reconstruction and the Marshall Plan. In the former, we forgave the Confederates but largely left the broken and beaten South to languish in poverty. In the latter, we rebuilt Germany while going to extraordinary lengths to punish the surviving Nazi leadership in a way that appears to have permanently discredited Nazism (notwithstanding the occasional fringe Neo-Nazi movements). It doesn’t take a genius to imagine what Europe might be like today if the victorious Allies had given blanket amnesty to all the Nazis in the name of “charity towards all and malice towards none” while not lifting a finger towards German reconstruction. Admittedly, Northern racism would have probably made this impossible, but I’ve often wondered where we’d be today if the North had spent money to actually reconstruct the South into an industrial society while doing everything it could to demonize “the Lost Cause” (such as by hanging every Klan member they could get their hands on, starting with the war criminal Nathan Bedford Forrest).

  203. 203
    boatboy_srq says:

    @WereBear: @Betty Cracker: No doubt women’s rights have been lacking for a very very long time and correction is long past due; however, given that a) this isn’t a uniquely United States social failing, and b) the inequality is recorded over five-thousand-plus years of history, how exactly does society make appropriate restitution? Reparations for slavery are a comparatively simple problem in contrast, and the debate over those is already (forgive the pun) white-hot.

    @randy khan:

    abortion rights don’t exactly fit neatly in the economic justice framework

    Actually they do: with pregnancy frequently used as a reason for terminating employment, adequate maternity leave an ongoing dispute in many places, and single mothers among the more discriminated against by various businesses and social segments, the opportunity for a woman to preserve her (unequal) earning potential and protect what family she has is very much an economic justice issue. The focus here is stolen by the anti-choice whingeing about the dead-baby-parts-industry and overshadowed by pseudomoralizing over the unRighteousness of Sluts.

  204. 204
    AliceBlue says:

    So what’s Hillary’s crime here? She likes Lincoln for the wrong reasons?

  205. 205
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Citizen Alan: Considering how unfavorably more recent efforts at Marshall-Plan-styled reconstruction efforts have been viewed, and how increasingly that one incident is looking like a unique instance in human history, it’s exceedingly unlikely that the US would have found out at that time or if they did that post-WW2 Germany would have experienced anything like it later on. Consider that in 1918 the Allies had the opportunity to do the exact same thing as was done in 1945 – and instead opted for the 1865 version instead. It’s actually surprising that, given how 1918 laid the foundations for 1939, there hasn’t been a second US Civil War over the exact same (perceived) injustices.

  206. 206
    dedc79 says:

    @AliceBlue: Perpetuating an ahistorical apologia

  207. 207
    nastybrutishntall says:

    @cokane: You can argue that the Civil Rights Era was a direct consequence of economic gains distributed over a larger portion of society than ever before, which was engineered by the great soshialist* FDR. If so many white people (and some “non-whites”) hadn’t been comfortable enough in their own middle-class lives, MLK’s dream would have fallen on deaf ears.

    This is why I think we’ll see an erosion of the civil rights gains of the 20th century if inequality remains so brutal, and if earning and wealth keeps declining for the 99%. All against all is the only model of scarcity we have now that Communism is dead.

    (edited to misspell FYWP nono word)

  208. 208
    FlipYrWhig says:

    “Doling out the kind of myths that undergirded racist violence” seems like a herculean leap from a statement about how Lincoln’s death was a bad thing because it meant the loss of his gifts at bringing people together. I didn’t realize that mourning Lincoln and wishing for reconciliation rather than strife were a slippery slope to Birth of a Nation.

    But I suppose Bernie got his turn being scourged for racial blind spots, so now it’s Hillary’s turn.

  209. 209
    Brachiator says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    This was, in fact, the exact situation that triggered the Civil Rights Movement: African-Americans realized after the war that their improved economic situation didn’t change the fact that they were still second-class citizens, and there was a decades-long struggle to try and change that.

    African Americans did not “realize” that their economic situation had improved. Given freedom, they had to fight for their rights, and fight against attempts by the white South to enslave them again.

    And when black communities achieved success, the communities were often attacked, razed, and destroyed. Along with this came the new myth of perpetual black helplessness.

    And a great deal of this is recapitulated in TNC’s brief for reparations. It is founded not just on the original sin of slavery, but by the continuing assault on black people designed to strip them of their property and rights and accomplishments.

    A study done a few years ago showed that resumes of white men with felony conviction records got more calls for interviews than identical resumes of black men with no criminal record. The rising tide that lifts all boats does jack shit to change that.

    Neither does reparations.

  210. 210
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @dedc79: Apologia for… what? The badness of dead Lincoln? Smart people are fucked in the head lately.

  211. 211
    Admiral_Komack says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader: Tell DWS & the DNC that, since they gave us Da Bern and It’s Her Turn to choose from.

  212. 212
    Applejinx says:

    @Mnemosyne: Oh look an economic problem. Amazing.

    The trouble with reparations is that white people aren’t rich anymore. RICH people are rich. A massive majority of white people are starving, desperate, and right where black people used to be, and I don’t think we’re talking about ‘reparations to make black people slightly less starving’.

    I think the idea is that black people should have the middle class American dream, and it doesn’t fucking exist, and if you somehow manage to leapfrog black people over desperate white people just because ‘middle class would be justified and deserved’, I agree with the idea but you’re going to have a straight-up race war, heartily encouraged by the rich white people.

    Who will earn money selling the poor white people guns to do it with.

    Such, such a bad idea.

  213. 213
    Gian says:

    So logistically how do you do this? How much to people pay, which people? What % should a descendant of plantation owners pay versus say a refugee from Eastern Europe in the 1980s?
    How about the Chinese labor used to build the railroads? how much are their descendants on the hook for?
    Or the kids brought here from Latin America the “dreamers?” Latino poverty rates are pretty darn bad, and Trump wants to build a wall to keep them out and calls them rapists. What’s their %?
    Shaking out some sort of proportional responsibility in a nation of waves of immigration, when many immigrants come flat ass broke, and work in poverty seems to be a difficult issue to me.

  214. 214
    Betty Cracker says:

    @FlipYrWhig: I think it’s as uncharitable as possible interpretation of Clinton’s off-the-cuff remarks, but she did phrase this awkwardly:

    But instead, you know, we had Reconstruction, we had the re-instigation of segregation and Jim Crow. We had people in the South feeling totally discouraged and defiant. So, I really do believe he could have very well put us on a different path.

    If you want to paint HRC as a clueless white lady, well, she handed you the paint brush and bucket by seeming to equate Reconstruction with Jim Crow and fretting over the discouragement of the South. Still, I’m with you, I think, in that I don’t believe she meant it that way.

  215. 215
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    @Betty Cracker: Honestly, I don’t know; I picture it being more like BLM or Occupy, where it’s large groups of people disrupting the process, rather than a single individual. But that’s probably going to be wrong.

  216. 216
    Brachiator says:

    @Citizen Alan:

    As a Southerner, I’ve often found it interesting to compare the outcomes of Reconstruction and the Marshall Plan. In the former, we forgave the Confederates but largely left the broken and beaten South to languish in poverty.

    The White South actively fought off attempts to modernize the South, especially since the new agenda included improving the lives of those who had been enslaved.

    Poor whites were co-opted as well as they resisted efforts to establish schools for both poor blacks and whites.

    There was one area in which economic investment got diverted. Instead of concentrating on rebuilding the South, a lot of capital was devoted to expansion to the West, the completion of the transcontinental railroads and the migration of people to underpopulated areas of the North American territory.

  217. 217
    dedc79 says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Lincoln? Did you even read what she said?

  218. 218

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    The root cause of racism is billions of years of evolution and the hard wiring of the human brain.

  219. 219
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Grumpy Code Monkey: Maybe the Democratic National Convention in 1968? Hopefully not. That didn’t end well.

  220. 220
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Betty Cracker: Saying that Lincoln could have brought people together but instead there was continuing strife and violence and racism and discontent seems pretty anodyne to me. She says that Reconstruction caused animosity (which it did; the revised history of Reconstruction is that animosity was a price worth paying for justice, which is probably true) and the South stayed a bunch of terrible racists instead of healing (which is still true 150 years later). She doesn’t say that it’s _because of_ Reconstruction that the South stayed racist. There’s no justification there. The word “apologia” is way off base.

    IMHO it sounds like she’s saying the same thing about Lincoln that Obama was saying about himself in the SOTU, or even the point Obama was making in the infamous bitter/cling statement.

  221. 221
    dedc79 says:

    @Betty Cracker: The first paragraph is problematic too, but for different reasons. It makes it sound like instant forgiveness of the South would’ve fixed things. It buys into the southern line that Reconstruction failed because of the North, not because of the South.

    ETA: It’s also an extension of the “unnecessary war” nonsense pushed by southern apologists to this very day. That if the North had just been more understanding and patient, the South would’ve come around to abolishing slavery.

  222. 222
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @dedc79: Yes, did you? Had Lincoln lived the South might be less full of resentful racists… and this is a bad political answer that speaks to Clinton’s privilege or something? I don’t know how you get there. I don’t know how Coates gets there either.

    ETA: The offending word is “forgive,” I guess?

  223. 223
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Grumpy Code Monkey:

    Not that we have a bench to speak of.

    I think it was Deval Patrick who said in 2008 that just because the Republicans deserve to lose doesn’t mean the Democrats deserve to win. That really hasn’t changed.

    Dude, you might want to lay off the Kevin Drum….

  224. 224
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @dedc79: I really don’t see where you’re getting these connotations about “unnecessary war” and such.

  225. 225
    randy khan says:

    @boatboy_srq:

    @randy khan:
    abortion rights don’t exactly fit neatly in the economic justice framework

    Actually they do: with pregnancy frequently used as a reason for terminating employment, adequate maternity leave an ongoing dispute in many places, and single mothers among the more discriminated against by various businesses and social segments, the opportunity for a woman to preserve her (unequal) earning potential and protect what family she has is very much an economic justice issue. The focus here is stolen by the anti-choice whingeing about the dead-baby-parts-industry and overshadowed by pseudomoralizing over the unRighteousness of Sluts.

    So all the stuff in italics absolutely is related to economic justice, but (a) it has little to do with abortion rights – those things are a problem whether or not abortion rights are secured and specifically affect women who choose to have children (that is, what happens in most pregnancies) even under a regime that maintains or expands abortion rights; and (b) it’s very specifically a women’s rights problem, not a problem that’s solved by breaking up big banks or raising the minimum wage or any kind of more generalized economic justice solution.

    And, while you’ll hear no disagreement from me about anti-choice whining and pseudomoralizing, those kinds of non-economic arguments are what drive the abortion rights debate. A socialist economic utopia (not making fun of Sanders here, just talking about the best outcome imaginable) would not address those issues at all.

  226. 226
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    But I suppose Bernie got his turn being scourged for racial blind spots, so now it’s Hillary’s turn.

    And yet, you ran with the Bernie slur because you are a shitty, shitty human being.

  227. 227
    boatboy_srq says:

    @randy khan: You’re looking for clean delineators where there are none.

    Economic inability to care for an infant is a major reason for having an abortion. I forget the exact percentage (surely some BJ FPer has the numbers) but a plurality of reasons boil down to not being able to afford a(nother) child. Anything early enough to avoid maternity leave – or even the possibility of having “the chat” with a manager ready and willing to cut a worker loose because she is expecting – is both an ethical and economic decision. Plus after Hobby Lobby the employer is by no means certain to provide appropriate health coverage, so even the prenatal exams become economic as much as ethical decisions. Keeping a job versus having a child should not be a choice, but it often is. And having an abortion shouldn’t cost an employee her position, but it likely has and likely will again. You are right that the ethics of abortion include other factors, but denying that getting pregnant drastically affects a woman’s career regardless of the outcome is foolish, and dying that a woman having a baby is not geometrically impacted compared to a woman who aborts even more so. There are other arguments for allowing the procedure but this is one of the biggest.

    Taking the earnings factor out of the abortion equation still leaves the ethics of the procedure; however many of the ethical arguments revolve around the ability to care for the child. Without income, care is very difficult and childbirth as the US practices it is prohibitively expensive.

    The alternative – adoption – still assumes that the mother can afford prenatal, neonatal and OBGYN care. ACA held onto that by a thread – and you still need coverage, which is still not guaranteed.

    Abortion rights also include right to access to contraception (not legally, but de facto, as has been discussed elsewhere on BJ regarding the antibiotics fetish for the lives of The Unborn): that nor only makes the stakes higher foe women but it crosses the gender barrier as well. The same people who want to make abortion illegal want to ban contraceptives as well.

    Some of the biggest offenders on the workers’ rights stage are big employers. Maybe not Big Banks, but Big Oil (Exxon Mobil in particular), and of course Hobby Lobby and other philosophically-informed businesses. Breaking up Big Oil or Big Telecom isn’t as glamorous as fracturing Wall Street but the results are similar.

    Much of the “moralizing” goes hand in hand with both Punishing the Sluts and the unElection of the Unwed Mother. Infliction of hardship on sinners is a core principle of both Fundie philosophy and the Prosperity Gospel. Viewing economic issues without this aspect of the opposition’s perspective misses much of their moral reasoning (or lack thereof).

    Last, suggesting that women’s rights are’t workers rights is likely to upset a lot of people. See WereBear’s comment earlier.

  228. 228
    randy khan says:

    @boatboy_srq: Well, of course women’s rights are workers’ rights. But I really don’t hear Sanders emphasizing the women’s rights part of that equation at all.

    As for the rest of it, it’s certainly true that economic factors are important in decisions about abortion. That’s not addressing my point, though.* My point is that Sanders, in his actual campaign, and regardless of how he’s voted in Congress, chooses not to talk much about women’s rights because he has such an emphasis on his big picture economic equity concerns. There’s nothing wrong with that in a vacuum, but in the context of a Democratic primary campaign, and particularly against an opponent with a long history of aggressive advocacy, he comes off as not caring. And, honestly, there’s some reason to wonder just how much he does care when he won’t talk about it unless pressed.

    One other thing – I know a lot of abortion rights activists, and they would find it bizarre to hear someone say that the argument around the economic impact of having a child “is one of the biggest” reasons to support abortion rights. Personal autonomy and general control over a woman’s own life are both much higher on the list. The economic impact, if anything, is just a small component of their analysis. This is something that I sometimes think a lot of people don’t get. Women, in general (not always, obviously, but in the vast majority of cases) want to have children at some point in their lives, and typically understand the economic impact of childbearing. Support for abortion rights is not about that, and really never has been, just as opposition to abortion rights is not about economics, either.

    *And to be clear, saying that pregnancy discrimination, for instance, is an economic issue doesn’t answer the question of whether it’s something that Sanders is talking about.

  229. 229
    boatboy_srq says:

    @randy khan: All of the “personal autonomy” arguments ignore that we live in a capitalist society and autonomy implies the means to sustain oneself. Autonomy without economic self-sufficiency is not possible. The problem with Sanders’ approach is that he comes at abortion from this angle instead of the ethical one – and nobody who wants a moral reason for women’s rights to control their bodies is comfortable admitting that without without income or pre-existing wealth (funds, land resources) that autonomy is not possible.

    Again: you’re looking for clean delineators where there are none.

  230. 230
    randy khan says:

    @boatboy_srq:

    So, in other words, all of the abortion rights activists are wrong.

    But even so, your argument does nothing to address the point that, when Sanders takes the same angle you’re taking, he comes off as not caring about women’s rights, which doesn’t help him vis a vis Clinton.

  231. 231
    Paul in KY says:

    @Kylroy: They might have. Agree, lots of racist assholes down South.

  232. 232
    Paul in KY says:

    @msdc: I don’t think it’s rhetorical. It might have been presented as such, but there are nuances (IMO).

  233. 233
    Paul in KY says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Agree that by 18th/19th, probably nothing could have been done to stop the ‘Manifest Destiny’. I think they maybe could have done something back in mid 17th or so, but probably not later than that (after thinking some more about it).

  234. 234
    Paul in KY says:

    @Grumpy Code Monkey: I think we have the GOP to thank for that. They are so hostile & batshit crazy that (IMO) a minority person would have to be extremely wealthy to entertain any idea of voting Republican.

  235. 235
    Paul in KY says:

    @WereBear: Excellent points, WereBear.

  236. 236
    Paul in KY says:

    @Citizen Alan: Interesting point. It would have had to work better than what we did.

  237. 237
    PaulW says:

    @Paul in KY:

    Problem is, the last 8-12 years have allowed the racists to thrive all over the nation. Thanks to the GOP’s embrace of the Southern Strategy, the Southern mindset of “Fear the Other” has metastasized into a national cancer.

  238. 238
    gorram says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: “ideals” – right, so, not actually how it works so not really something that needs consideration?

  239. 239
    gorram says:

    @sherparick: Also, as long as we’re talking about these patterns of oppression and violence on such a farsighted historical scale, what is denigration (wow look at that subtly crypto-relevant etymology!) today for a working class or even extremely poor White person can be comparative success for their children and possibly even lavish wealth for their grandchildren. The class boundaries are fluid and even in times of deep structural inequality like today are more fluid for us than they ever have been for people of color.

  240. 240
    gorram says:

    @Heliopause: My reading of the distinction is that these are mistakes the two are making in their wheelhouse. Sanders is the economic justice candidate – disregarding arguably one of the largest systemic thefts of labor and life (and if we’re talking about more than just slavery, land too) in our national history is kind of strange for him to do.

    He’s also the “radical” so it’s strange for him to object to it as unpragmatically unpopular. If he’d focused on it being operationally unpragmatic, maybe it would be different, but I think there’s still the other issue of seeming callous on an issue of economic injustice… when you’re selling point is that you’ll do something about economic injustices.

    Clinton I think is coming under criticism for her comment for similar reasons, this is supposed to be what she’s good at: the deep reading of history, assessment of national/international/factional responsibilities, and more generally a sort of knowledge and technology driven governance. Just like Sanders’ economic justice platform having implicit racial biases speaks to how the original national sin is born out in his worldview, her accepting a mythology that excuses slavery and Jim Crow would speak to the same flaws in a similar sort of heart of her campaign.

    They’re different candidates, who reflect the same problem with our country in their different politics… differently.

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