(Originally published earlier this summer at about the time of George Floyd's death. More timely now.)
We finally learned what all the fuss has been about for the past month. It’s not about police reform. It’s not about systemic racism. It’s about race-based transfer payments, or reparations. At least it is according to the ideologues calling the shots at The New York Times.
What are reparations?
How about a cash payment of $350 thousand dollar to every African-American. That’s a good start, according to Robert Johnson, founder of the Black Entertainment Network. This money is necessary to help promote equality between white and black. If more is needed later, well, we can revisit that as needed. This down payment on racial justice will cost about $13 trillion, give or take a trillion.
The New York Times is on board with this project. So, too, is the implicit rhetoric in which reporting of events takes place at outlets like CNN, MSNBC. All the tumult since the death of George Floyd is part of the nation’s “racial reckoning,” you see. The language is deliberate. Reckoning is what you do with sums. Reconsider and revisit American history since 1619 and you can come up with a case for reparations.
“We” owe people of color on account of a history of slavery, Jim Crow, and, apparently, failed civil rights legislation in the 1960s. We’re rotten and racist to the core, a virus of hate deep within us that can only be cured by giving the aggrieved money.
As Hawk Newsome, a Black Lives Matter organizer in New York recently told Martha MacCallum on Fox News: “If this country doesn’t give us what we want then we will burn down the system and replace it,” while arguing that our history is steeped in violence.
I am not buying this race-based shakedown for one moment. P.T. Barnum in black face is still a con, maybe even a criminal.
You shouldn’t buy it either. Indeed, if you want to stop this madness it’s time to start speaking up. Silence, you see, begets violence.
Most of us came to this country long after the founding and the ending of slavery. We were taught a common history and encouraged to adopt it as our own. I recall sitting in Chicago elementary schools in the 1960s being taught about Pilgrims coming to the United States for religious freedom. “We,” the teachers used the plural possessive pronoun, came here for freedom.
I recall wondering about that. My family came here in the 20th century. What did the Pilgrims have to do with me?
The stories I was told about our family history involved a great grandfather executed by Turks on the Isle of Crete. But I didn’t press matters. “We the people,” the opening clause of the Constitution’s preamble, seduced me. I became a lawyer because I believed those words applied to me. I believed, and still believe, in equality before the law.
It turns out I was taught a lie. At least according to The New York Times and the 1619 Project. Sixteen nineteen is the year the first African slave arrived on these shores. According to the new history, the nation’s 400-year course is one of systemic oppression of African-Americans. We never believed in equality. The Declaration of Independence is a fraud. The Constitution is a fraud, Dismantling of Jim Crow is a fraud. Our civil rights legislation in the 1960s is a fraud. The whole and entire sweep and course of American history is a hoax.
We can only redeem ourselves by speaking today’s truth. We need to be taught a new history to adopt as our own. We owe a debt to black Americans. Decency requires a modest down payment to begin the work of racial healing.
No, thank you. Why would I adopt a history that makes me into a villain over something I or my family never did. It makes no sense. Reparations history is not a unifying set of myths; it’s a sophisticated ideology used to support claims of distributive justice. I am supposed to buy into the history so as to volunteer to pay race-based taxes.
It’s not going to happen. Ever. Don’t even ask me to debate this.
No one alive was enslaved. No one alive enslaved. We adopt views of history that serve our present interests. That’s why folks say winners write history.
So our history is now being rewritten. We revisit times in which not one of us lived to look for lessons serving our present interests. Read a story of enslavement and become enraged. The use of that story? It sanctifies a victim and demonizes a villain. “You” enslaved “me,” so pay me. Thus does a tragic history become tawdy tokenism.
So much for individualism and justice based on personal merit. It’s all about group identity now.
It’s a vast racial shakedown worthy of P.T. Barnum.
Speak this way and run the risk of scorn, of what is now referred to as “cancel culture. It’s almost as if this were all exquisitely timed: While we stay hunkered down in our homes for fear of COVID-19, a social contagion runs riot: Looting, defacement of monuments, bizarre acts of obsequious white while folk kneeling before blacks, and even violence are tolerated. A viral video shows an enraged black man beating a cowering white man. Why? The white man used the “n” word. Does that justify the beating?
Are you ready to pay a race-based transfer payment to make it stop?
Notice that no one is burning the Washingtons and Jeffersons in their wallets. The game here is to make you willing to pay for the chaos to stop.
There is still time to save the republic. I say make it clear that there will never be raced-based transfer payments in the United States by amending the U.S. Constitution. Simply prohibit any person from receiving superior “privileges or immunities” under the Fourteenth Amendment on account of their identity.
The Amendment can be simply stated: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of a person’s identity and no person shall enjoy superior privileges or immunities under law on account of their identity.”
Call it the Integrity Amendment. Press your local legislators to support it. We can demand change peacefully, by lawful means. It’s a chance to salvage a republic that is dangerously close to fraying. How close? I’ve heard more than one person say in recent weeks they’d rather see the republic fail than be required to pay a race-based tax.
Pass this along. Let’s start a constitutional fire before it’s too late.