Writing in The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates—you can thank his Black Panther dad for giving him that self-segregating first name—recently penned a sprawling essay called “The Case for Reparations.” It rings all the familiar bells the race-baiters have been clanging in our ears for generations now, insisting that the “income gap” and “wealth gap” between white and black Americans is solely due to that evil enduring shadow institution known as “white supremacy,” which apparently slipped up when it allowed Jewish people and Asians to earn more on average than non-Jewish whites do.
The essay also dredges up all the tiresome hate-crime porn from ages ago, possibly because it’s uncomfortable to talk about stats regarding modern interracial violence. The words “lynch” and “lynching” appear six times, as does a nearly century-old photo of a Texas lynching. We are informed that “Mississippi lynched Emmett Till” rather than what actually happened, which is that three guys in Mississippi lynched Emmett Till. We are not informed that every single year, twice as many black Americans murder one another than were lynched throughout American history. “Nearly one-fourth of all white Southerners owned slaves,” Coates alleges, despite the fact that at best, 7.5% of white Southerners owned slaves in 1860.
After endlessly bemoaning the fact that blacks haven’t reached economic parity with whites in America, he writes:
In the contest of upward mobility, Barack and Michelle Obama have won. But they’ve won by being twice as good—and enduring twice as much.
I’d like to believe that, but first I’d have to see Barack Obama’s school records while ignoring the fact that he was raised by relatively affluent whites.
Coates cites a statement by LBJ that “Negro poverty is not white poverty.” Maybe not, but African-American poverty is not African poverty. (More on that in a minute.)
Toward the end of the essay, Coates dredges up the Holocaust and how Israel wrangled reparations from Germany. He quotes a “Meir Dworzecki” as saying, “My soul would be at rest if I knew there would be 6 million German dead to match the 6 million Jews.” Sleep tight, Herr Dworzecki—7 to 9 million Germans died in World War II.
Writing for Slate, Jamelle Bouie—he of yet another self-segregating name—rides Ta-Nehisi’s Coates-tails and alleges that even the lowly Irish have unfairly “reaped the fruits” of American prosperity. He claims that “America stole wealth from black people” without acknowledging that modern low-income blacks are net tax consumers rather than taxpayers and are therefore doing the stealing. Bouie speaks of an “unequal playing field” apparently without pausing for a nanosecond to consider whether we may be dealing with unequal players.
The estimates I’ve seen regarding what the net value of black American slaves in 1860 would translate to in current dollars range from $1.75 trillion to $10 trillion. Writing in Forbes, some white guy reckons America’s net wealth is somewhere around $80 trillion, adding that “Even if slavery reparations are righteously due they would amount to around and about the current cost of food stamps.” Since total American annual welfare spending is now around $1 trillion, and since the country has spent trillions in welfare since the 1950s, and since blacks chew up a disproportionate amount of welfare expenditures, it’s possible that the “reparations” may have already been paid—with interest, even.
Discussions of reparations tend to hinge on black Americans’ economic conditions relative to white Americans. Such discussions never seem to look across the Atlantic Ocean in an effort to compare their conditions relative to Africans. (Speaking of crossing the Atlantic, despite the sinister ghost of white supremacy that looms over America, around 20,000 Africans move here yearly, while apparently very few black Americans repatriate to Africa.)
According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word “reparation” is derived from a Latin word meaning to “restore” or “repair.” So if you want to get literal and borderline Aspergery about it, real reparations would consist of returning African Americans to roughly the state they’d be in if they’d never been plucked from their ancestral homelands. If ex-Africans have truly been damaged by being transported to America and increasing their numbers a hundredfold in the process, it would stand to reason that they’d currently be doing better in Africa.
But they aren’t.
According to this map, African slaves transported to America came almost exclusively from the continent’s western coast—areas that are now modern countries such as Benin, The Gambia, Angola, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. I fully realize that statistics are malleable, often inaccurate, and don’t incorporate mitigating factors, but still it appears as if there are some strong patterns emerging here:
So if you’re keen to “repair” or “restore” American blacks’ conditions to what they’d be if they were never captured and enslaved, you’d have to severely inflate their infant-mortality rate, slash their life expectancy by 10-20 years, and reduce their income by anywhere from 65% to 93%. Otherwise, shut your whiny mouth and acknowledge how truly privileged blacks are to live in America. As Muhammad Ali famously told a reporter, “Thank God my granddaddy got on that boat!”
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