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Privilege of reparations

By Robert T. Smith
web posted June 8, 2020

On Fox News recently, Bret Baier interviewed BET founder Robert Johnson who has called for reparations for slavery.  Mr. Johnson has proposed $14 trillion for 40 million African-Americans.  The potential for reparations payments would be a privilege for certain Americans at the cost to others who were not responsible for slavery. 

There are the obvious problems with this ancestral blood-libel approach to group-think slavery reparations.  The list of reparations issues is extensive, a few include the following.

  • Africans were captured for the most part by other Africans and sold into slavery.  Would reparations be afforded to ancestors of these slave trade suppliers?
  • Some Africans who live in America have no lineage to the slavery that occurred in this country.  Would reparations be afforded to these persons who are devoid of this ancestral blood-libel payment?
  • Many Americans lineage included ancestors killed or maimed fighting against slavery, in particular in our country’s civil war.  Should they be subject to a second ancestral blood-libel payment?
  • Some Americans have ancestors or they themselves came to this country after slavery was abolished.  Should they be required to pay this group-think blood-libel?
  • Some African-Americans are financially successful, just like BET founder Robert Johnson.  Will financially successful African- Americans be provided this reparations payment, or what is the income cut-off for this payment?
  • Americans have bent their laws and constitution to accommodate the African-American community, purposefully discriminated against others to benefit African-Americans.  Have those who were sacrificed for this discrimination not already paid enough, or will they also pay this fee?
  • Americans have provided directly and indirectly trillions of dollars of welfare payments, social program costs, policing, medical costs, etc., and lives sacrificed to violence, drug-related harm, etc., to support and assist the African-American community, without the outcome apparently desired by some, such as Mr. Johnson.  Have these payments and human costs not been enough?

Reparations appears integrally entangled with the notion of privilege.  Privilege, or white privilege is a purposefully ambiguous concept.  What exactly is the privilege that non-African-Americans enjoy that is unavailable to African-Americans in our country, and why does the financially successful founder of BET believe African-Americans cannot possess this privilege that he apparently also enjoys?  Is privilege simply money?

Speaking for myself and I assume many others, my own privilege is not based on the color of my skin.  My privilege generally arises from family, religion, responsibility and morality.  

I was raised in a two-parent family, a mother and a father who provided me with a stable home and the unique values and guidance that come from each separately, and combine to put a person out into the world in a decent situation.  Go to school and get good grades, do your homework, do this good thing and don’t do that bad thing, be a good person.

I was raised a Christian, a belief in something larger than me that provides meaning to my life, and the secure knowledge that there is a plan for me here in this world before my eternal life after my work here is done.  I have the knowledge that there is an authority that watches me every minute of my life and this keeps me, for the most part, on the straight and narrow living a respectable life.

Mostly as a consequence of the first two privileges, I have the privilege of living my life responsibly and morally.  Being subject to the human condition, I have failed at times in this endeavor, suffered in some instances and by providence skipped over other instances of irresponsibility or immorality without direct consequence, but in general have aspired to the goal of responsibility and morality.  These are the privileges that I enjoy that have nothing to do with the color of my skin.

I fully disagree with any person who thinks my privilege of family, religion, responsibility and morality are limited to my skin color and that people of other skin color are incapable of being successful in life and enjoying these privileges.  Anyone who thinks this way are the true racists, holding a belief that African- Americans cannot live a life of privilege.

The trigger for the re-emergence of the ancestral blood-libel reparations has been the George Floyd death by policeman in Minnesota.  Apparently, to the African-American community it is alright to hold an entire group, police, or white police, or even white’s in general accountable for the actions of this one person.  If that is the rule African- Americans wish to live by, then the African-Americans as a group are also accountable for every illegal activity, lawlessness, drug deal, murder, assault, etc. performed by a member of their group.  Isn’t this the profiling they claim to detest and is the source of their main grievance?  This group-think is not a good approach and is the cornerstone of reparations.  A bad idea.  Group-think is the antithesis of the individualism implicit in Americanism.

Money isn’t a piece of paper or a number on a bank account.  Money is what an employer trades for the labor time spent by an employee.  You employer cannot buy all of your groceries, pay your bills, or supply all the other goods and services you may desire.  Consequently, you employer pays you with money that you can then trade for the goods and services you desire. 

Taking someone’s money as an ancestral blood-libel reparation for slavery is not taking a piece of paper or a number on a bank account, a thing, it is taking a portion of a person’s life.  An indentured servant who is bound by force (in this case the force of government decree for reparations) to work without pay for another person. One American would be required to work for the benefit of another American to provide the reparations payment, a debt they themselves did not accrue.  Reparations would be an add-on form of welfare payment, earned only by having a certain skin color. 

Devoid of the privilege of family, religion, and especially responsibility and morality, how would a little, some, or even most of the reparations payouts be put to good use to achieve the alleged outcome of being equal?  Perhaps some of the money would improve some lives to some degree.  Perhaps human nature would point to a new luxury or sports car, cell phone and other electronic goodies, jewelry, crazy awesome parties, drugs, alcohol, sexual pleasures, all the awesome trappings of a humanistic, self-centered life, devoid of God, responsibility and morality.  Arguably, taking what you can in this life at the cost to another because of the color of your skin may be the only privilege of reparations payments.  You will not be a privileged person, you will simply have someone else’s money that you did not earn. ESR

Robert T. Smith is an environmental scientist who spends his days enjoying life and the pursuit of happiness with his family.  He confesses to cling to his liberty, guns and religion, with antipathy toward the arrogant ruling elites throughout the country.

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