Williams Demolishes Coates

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The case for reparations for slavery has been revived lately by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a writer for whom I once had a fair degree of respect. Fortunately, Walter Williams has made mincemeat of that evil idea on many levels, starting with the moral:

... I also agree that slave owners and slave traders should make reparations to those whom they enslaved. The problem, of course, is that slaves, slave owners and slave traders are all dead. Thus, punishing perpetrators and compensating victims is out of the hands of the living.

Punishing perpetrators and compensating victims is not what reparations advocates want. They want government to compensate today's blacks for the bondage suffered by our ancestors. But there's a problem. Government has no resources of its very own. The only way for government to give one American a dollar is to first -- through intimidation, threats and coercion -- confiscate that dollar from some other American. Therefore, if anybody cares, a moral question arises. What moral principle justifies punishing a white of today to compensate a black of today for what a white of yesterday did to a black of yesterday? [bold added]
But Williams is not done, yet. Many advocates of "reparations" like to claim a superior knowledge of history, as if this bolsters their case for committing wrongs against the innocent. Williams goes on demonstrate that such claims, as judged by the proposed remedies, are just about as ridiculous as the white guilt he lampooned ages ago through his "Proclamation of Amnesty and Pardon Granted to All Persons of European Descent". It is clear from this piece that advocates of reparations must be ignorant or evasive of almost everything but the facts that slavery once existed in this country, the slaves had African heritage, and persons of European heritage owned slaves. 

This is a piece well worth reading in full and keeping in mind, in the event one realizes that an otherwise intelligent and thoughtful adult is falling for the kind of nonsense that Coates has decided push.

-- CAV


Steve D said...

‘The problem, of course, is that slaves, slave owners and slave traders are all dead.’

This sentence pretty much sums it up. The rest of his editorial is filler compared to that. Digging people up from the grave just to exchange money between them is disgusting.

It is possible, I suppose, to grant reparations from someone’s estate after they are dead within some sort of reasonable statute of limitations but after 150 years, these estates no longer exist.

To what sort of precedents would this lead? What sort of lawsuits could you imagine based on history? My ancestors were Scottish Highlanders and were periodically invaded by the Lowlanders for hundreds of years. Can we still get war reparations? Alternatively, maybe we owe them, since I suspect we gave as good as we took. We should get something from the English though no matter what because they invaded us a lot more than we invaded them.

Gus Van Horn said...

"The rest of his editorial is filler compared to that."

That and the bit about the government having to steal to make any of this happen.

I almost agree, but I think the layers and layers of stupidity Williams brings up will help some people get past a sort of disarming, knee-jerk guilt, however undeserved, I have noticed on the part of many people.

Gus Van Horn said...

Hah! Yes.