Friday, May 16, 2014

Reparations. An Old Idea, But Still A Good One

Ta-Nehisi Coates is about to open up a giant can of worms, and it looks like the full weight of the Atlantic's power to shape elite discussion is behind him.

I am extremely excited about this story. The moral case for reparations has always been obvious and overwhelming. The practical implementation of a reparations program would undoubtedly be difficult, but that is a secondary concern at this time. The great virtue of resurrecting this discussion is that it forces Whites to confront the lies that we live by. If we are to have reparations, we must have them for the evil that is being done here and now, in our lifetimes. All the old canards about how long ago the civil war was and how we had nothing to do with slavery are not just false; they are irrelevant. We're not talking about the deep past. We're talking about the lives of our fellow Americans here and now who are systematically disadvantaged because of their skin color.

The call for reparations will be received in many quarters as a radical exercise, in others it will be mocked as little more than a pipe dream. But we need radicals. We need people pushing for what is politically impossible. Even if reparations are out of reach, perhaps we can move the poles of the conversation toward justice. The inevitable divisiveness of the ensuing discussion will also expose those of us who value tranquility more than peace.

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