Several candidates for the 2020 DNC nomination for President are openly supporting reparations for descendants of slavery. Like most things promoted by liberals, they are more than a little short on logic and ignorant of obvious facts. This issue is one that is guaranteed to backfire big time. The problem is that those pushing for reparations are ignoring something really important. It was Democrats, not Republicans who were responsible for slavery.
The justification for compensation is for people enslaved or their descendants. Liberals are very good at identifying who was hurt by slavery. They just give little consideration to who should be to blame.
We know that there were about 35 million Americans here in 1865. Approximately 3.5 million of them were African American. Another 20 million people arrived between 1865 and 1900. They were almost all white, because few black people were immigrating to the United States. I have seen some estimates that over 90% of the black population descended from slaves. But a only a very small percentage of white people descended from slave owners.
So while it is pretty easy to say that a high percentage of African Americans do have an argument that they were harmed by slavery, that does not mean that a high percentage of white people were responsible. In fact, it is morally irresponsible to blame the descendants of people who were not even here when slavery existed. It is also hard to hold people in the north, where slavery was banned, for the action of Southern Democrats. It is even difficult to hold people in the south who did not own slaves responsible, since they hardly benefited from slavery. The sad truth is that slavery made a small number of rich people even richer and benefited almost no one else. If anything it made it harder for a non-slaver owner in the south to find work, because the rich people owned all the land and why pay someone to work when you have all that free labor.
So, we should give reparations. They should be paid primarily by descendants of the 275,000 people living in the south who actually owned slaves. That is only fair. Certainly a majority of the blames belongs to them. Let’s assume that they are responsible for 90% of the damage.
Let’s then split up the remaining 10% among others who share “some” level of shared responsibility. We can exclude anyone descended from people who arrived here after 1865. Since slavery was illegal in the north it is hard to justify charging their descendant for reparations. If there should be some charge, a majority should be charged to people who descended from Democrats. The Republican Party was founded in opposition to slavery, so one could argue that their descendants should also be exempt. Why should Republicans be forced to pay for things they opposed done by Democrats?
This means the remaining 10% should be charged to descendants of people who lived in the south, prior to 1865 and allowed slavery to exist and Democrats in the north who supported pro-slavery southern Democrats.
This brings up the next question, which is how to allocate costs. Some of these people, descended from rich southern plantation owners, may have significant assets. Since one could argue that those assets were only possible because of slavery, they should pay the highest price. This is complicated by the fact that at least some of these plantation owners could not survive financially when they actually had to pay for labor. So while their descendant may be justifiably liable, they don’t necessarily have any significant assets with which to fund compensation.
And, oh, there’s this other problem. If we start actually looking at who was responsible for slavery that is going to be embarrassing for the Democratic Party. In fact the entire history of the Democratic Party was that of institutionalized racism. That only ended when Al Gore’s father along with friends like Robert Byrd lost the last battle to block civil rights legislation.
Then these same people started handing out money to African Americans to show them who their real friends were. They also set about to explain why the Republicans are the racists. This worked remarkably well and typically about 90% of African American vote for Democrats. I suspect most of them don’t really understand the true history of racism in this country. Trying to fund reparations from slavery might offer some embarrassing facts with regard to who was who most definitely was not responsible.