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All the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020 call for reparations to blacks from whites for the crime of slavery.

High profile conservatives reject this claim.

Thomas Sowell dismisses it as fraudulent: “However, seen as a source of a lasting unmet grievance, it is a stroke of genius to keep blacks separated from other Americans and an aggrieved constituency to support black ‘leaders’ in politics, organizations and movements.”

Walter E. Williams also strongly opposes any such initiative: “So which white Americans owe which black Americans how much? Reparations advocates don’t want that question asked, but let’s you and I ask it. Are the millions of European, Asian and Latin Americans who immigrated to the U.S. in the 20th century responsible for slavery? What about descendants of Northern whites who fought and died in the War of 1861 in the name of freeing slaves? Should they cough up money for black Americans? What about non slave owning Southern whites, who were a majority of Southern whites — should their descendants be made to pay reparations? On black people’s side of the ledger, thorny questions arise. Some blacks purchased other blacks as a means to free family members. But other blacks owned slaves for the same reason whites owned slaves — to work farms or plantations. Would descendants of these blacks be eligible for reparations?”

Professor Williams allows that “… justice would demand that slave owners make compensatory payments to slaves. Since both slaves and slave owners are no longer with us, such punishment and compensation is beyond our reach.”

Both sides in this debate are mistaken. The right wingers make telling points against the extreme left wing position that all whites owe all blacks a debt, but they erroneous conclude that therefore, no whites owe any compensation to any blacks at all.

Suppose my grandfather stole a watch from your grandfather. He gave it to his son, my dad, and I inherited it from him. Do I or do I not owe this watch to you? Of course I do. Now, to be sure, the burden of proof rests with you. Possession is properly nine tenths of the law, and I am now the owner of this timepiece. But, if you can prove it was stolen from your grandfather (let us say you have a picture of him wearing it as a young man before my grandfather was even born), then justice would demand that I turn it over to you.

From an economic point of view, slavery consisted of labor theft (of course it was much worse than that, but it certainly included this phenomenon). In 1865 slave owners should have been found guilty of the crime of aggravated kidnapping. Poetic justice would have called for them to be enslaved to their new ex-slaves, and all their property turned over to their victims. (If ever it was needed, the Nuremberg Trials established libertarian principle that ex post facto punishment is justified).

These despicable villains are now of course beyond the reach of justice, as per Williams. But they bequeathed land, buildings, farm animals to their children. There are now white folk who own plantations all through the south, and some farms in the north. They are now in illicit possession of this wealth. They didn’t build it; they didn’t homestead it. They never should have been given this property in the first place. Rather, the grandparents of now living black people carved this acreage out of the wilderness; their “blood, sweat and tears” established these properties. It is they who should have receive this property in 1865. This is where that “forty acres and a mule” comes from; it is rough approximation of justice. The white great grandchildren who now own these properties are not themselves thieves, but they are now in possession of stolen property, land stolen from (that is, not given to) black people, over a century ago.

If I am required to return to you the wrist watch my grandfather stole from yours, and I most certainly am, then there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of black great grandchildren who are entitled to land and capital equipment now owned illegitimately by the descendants of white slave owners.

Sowell and Williams are correct to criticize the extreme demands made by leading Democrats. All whites are not in possession of property they never should have received in the first place and that properly belonged to the black ex-slaves. But some are. Sowell and Williams deduce invalidly from their correct premises to the erroneous conclusion that no whites owe any blacks anything. Some do, maybe even many do, if justice is to prevail.

Nor are all black people, at present, entitled to any reparations at all. Some of them are new entrants to our country. The parents of others immigrated to the U.S. long after 1865. Nor, even, are the progeny of slaves entitled to one thin dime, if they cannot demonstrate, prove, that their great grandfathers had their labor stolen from them on a specific plantation. Reparations, libertarian style, and not an open sesame kind of operation. They are justified, only, on the grounds of return of stolen property. If a would be claimant cannot meet this burden of proof, he is not entitled to receive any compensation.

Nor are all whites now in possession of property to which they are not entitled. Only some of them, a few of them, are guilty of owning land stolen in effect from others.

How shall the actual reparations work. Suppose Mr. Smith, a black person now living in Harlem, can prove that his great grandparent labored on a plantation located in Louisiana. There were 50 slaves on that estate. It is comprised of 500 acres, now occupied by Mr. Jones, great grandchild of the owner of grandpa Smith. Well, then, 10 of those acres should be transferred from Jones to Smith. Period. Taxation would not come into play in this libertarian vision. Nor would welfare, affirmative action, attempts to equalize black and white wealth. All such considerations are beside the point at issue: return of stolen property.




• Category: Ideology • Tags: Slavery, Slavery Reparations 
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  1. BuelahMan says:

    When will the jews give back Palestine to the arabs? They stole it and called it Israel.

    On another note, Walter Block is jewish?

    Every. Single. Time.

  2. melpol says:

    Blacks living in the US were originally deported as slaves from Africa. After being freed they were not able to obtain equality with the white population. Many wound up in prison as they attempted to survive. Presently there are over 500 thousand blacks in US prisons. Freeing them would be only the first step for fair reparations. Giving them jobs or means for subsistence would be the second step. Call it child support, whites that wont accept that responsibility are labeled DEAD BEAT DADS.

  3. Why has this become an issue, now? Is it a ploy by loser Dem politicians to buy relevance with both the black community and their retarded liberal supporters? I think so.

  4. Suppose my grandfather stole a watch from your grandfather. He gave it to his son, my dad, and I inherited it from him. Do I or do I not owe this watch to you? Of course I do.

    No. Of course, you DO NOT. Your grandfather stole my grandfather’s watch. He got away with it. Then he gave it to your dad, then you inherited it. Now, assuming I even knew about this old family tale from the ancient days, and then assuming I could even find you at all, and assuming you still had it or had not given it to someone else or had it stolen, what lunatic in his right mind would think that you owe me a watch from 170 years ago?

    So 400 years after Genghis Khan took over my country and enslaved my ancestors, I deserve to get paid money by Mongolian goat herders who are distantly related to Khan? Do you begin to see how stupid this line of reasoning is?

    And, buddy? Since slavery was the common thing for ALL races all over the world for centuries, then I should also get reparations from some Arab from 1200, for enslaving my distant relative. In fact, every one of every race should get reparations from every one else.

    Choctaw indians owned black slaves. Blacks owned black slaves. Jews owned black slaves. So, a young alcoholic Choctaw in Oklahoma owes Tyron Smith XV reparations? How could you prove that? How could you figure that all out?

    Why would you? Just because all of the Dem candidates are brain dead, you don’t have to join in this racist insanity. That’s right. It is racist to demand reparations. And people are starting to realize that calls for reparations are just another form of black racism and black hate.

    Calls for reparations should be immediately recognized as black racism in its most evil form, and rejected immediately and summarily.

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