Oh, Lord. I’d pull my hair out, if I had more.
On the Web I find that Henry Louis Gates Jr., the chairman of Afro-American Studies at Harvard, is demanding that whites, pay reparations to blacks. It’s because of slavery, see. He is joined in this endeavor by a gaggle of other professional blacks. I guess he’ll send me a bill.
Huh? I feel like saying, Let me get this straight, Hank. I’m slow. Be patient. You want free money because of slavery, right?
I don’t blame you. I’d like free money too.
Tell you what. I believe in justice. I’ll give you a million dollars for every slave I own, and another million for every year you were a slave. Fair enough? But tell me, how many slaves do you suppose I have? In round numbers, I mean. Say to the nearest dozen. And how long were you a slave?
In other words, I owe you reparations for something that I didn’t do and didn’t happen to you. That makes sense. Like lug nuts on a birthday cake.
Personally, I think you owe me reparations for things you didn’t do and never happened to me. I’ve never been coated in Dutch chocolate and thrown from the Eiffel Tower. I’ll bet you’ve never done it to anyone.
I want reparations.
Kinda silly, isn’t it?
But if we’re going to talk about reparations, that’s a street that runs in two directions. You want money from me for what some other whites did to some other blacks in another century. How about you guys paying whites reparations for current expenses caused by blacks? Not long ago blacks burned down half of Los Angeles, a city in my country. Cities are expensive, Hank. Build one sometime and you’ll see what I mean. Whites had to pay taxes to repair Los Angeles for you. You can send me a check.
Now, yes, I know you burned LA because you didn’t like the verdict in the trial of those police officers. Well, I didn’t like the verdict in the Simpson trial. But I didn’t burn my house and loot Korean grocers.
Over the years blacks have burned a lot of American cities: Newark, Detroit, Watts, on and on. Now add in the fantastic cost over the years of welfare in all its forms, of large police forces and jails and security systems in department stores. I can’t live in the capital city of my own country because of crime committed by blacks. Toss in the cultural cost of lowering standards in everything for the benefit of blacks.
See what I mean?
Now, I’d view things differently if you said, “Fred, blacks can’t get anywhere in a modern country without education. We know that. We need better schools, smarter teachers, harder courses, books with smaller pictures and bigger words. Can you help us?”
I’d say, “Hallelujah! Hoo-ahh! Not just yes, but hell yes. Let’s sell an aircraft carrier and get these folks some real schools and get them into the economic mainstream.” I’d say it partly because it would be the right thing to do, and partly because I’d like to add you guys to the tax base. The current custodial state is expensive. I’d just love for blacks to study and learn to compete and stop burning places.
But is it going to happen?
You may not believe it, but I, and most whites, don’t like seeing blacks as miserable and screwed up as they are. I spend a fair amount of time in the projects. Those places are ugly. It’s no fun watching perfectly good kids turn into semi-literate dope dealers who barely speak English. It just plain ain’t right.
But, Hank, what am I supposed to do about it? I can’t do your children’s homework. At some point, people have to do things for themselves, or they don’t get done.
Maybe it’s time.
I’ll tell you what I see out in the world, Hank. I think blacks are too accustomed to getting anything they want by just demanding it. True, it has worked for over half a century. Get a few hundred people in the street, implicitly threaten to loot and burn, holler about slavery, and the Great White Cash Spigot turns on.
Thing is, whites don’t much buy it any longer. Most recognize that what once was a civil-rights movement has become a shakedown game. Few people still feel responsible for the failings and inadequacies of blacks. Political correctness keeps the lid on–but everyone knows the score.
Which scares me, Hank. On one hand, blacks hate whites and incline toward looting and burning. (The whites you hate are the ones who marched in the civil-rights movement. Ever think about that?) On the other hand, whites quietly grow wearier and wearier of it. Not good.
On the third hand (allow me three hands, for rhetorical convenience) blacks keep demanding things. As I write, you demand reparations for slavery. Blacks in Oklahoma (I think it was) want money for some ancient race riot. Other blacks reject the Declaration of Independence, blacks in New York hint broadly at burning and looting over a trial, yet more demand the elimination of the Confederate flag, and the federal equal-opportunity apparatus, which means blacks, wants to sue Silicon Valley for not hiring nonexistent black engineers.
That’s a lot of demanding for one month, Hank. What happens if whites ever say, “No”?
Now, how about you? You’ve got a cushy job up there at Harvard, and you can hoot and holler about what swine and bandits whites are. I guess it’s lots of fun, and you get a salary for it. But don’t you think you might do blacks more good if you told them to complain less and study more?
For example, if you want blacks to work in Silicon Gulch, the best approach might be to find some really smart black guys, and get them to study digital design, not Black Studies. That’s how everybody else does it. It works. Then blacks wouldn’t feel left out, and racial tension would decline. Sound like a plan?
Just out of curiosity, how many hours a week do professors of Afro-American Studies spend in the projects, encouraging poor black kids to study real subjects, Hank?