Shaming Democrats To Embrace Reparations

Scott Greer Contributor
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Did you catch Hillary Clinton’s major faux pas at Monday’s Democratic presidential forum?

No, it wasn’t her manufactured response to a question on her dishonest image — it was something much more subtle.

In explaining why Abraham Lincoln is her favorite president, she brought up what happened to the country in the bitter aftermath of his assassination.

“I don’t know what our country might have been like had he not been murdered, but I bet that it might have been a little less rancorous, a little more forgiving and tolerant, that might possibly have brought people back together more quickly,” Clinton said. “But instead, you know, we had Reconstruction, we had the re-instigation of segregation and Jim Crow. We had people in the South feeling totally discouraged and defiant. So, I really do believe he could have very well put us on a different path.”

What Hillary said would’ve probably not been much of an issue 10 or 20 years ago, but now the characterization of Reconstruction as “rancorous” is deeply problematic.

Why? Just ask the Left’s pick for the smartest man in the universe, Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Coates, relishing in the opportunity to once again lecture white liberals on racial matters, believes Hillary peddled bigoted history in her statement. In an article for The Atlantic, the annointed intellectual wrote the Democratic front-runner saying Reconstruction was a mistake and in line with a popular, yet “white supremacist” view of the time period that was articulated by a group of early 20th century historians known as the “Dunning School.”

The Dunning School argued the federal government’s program for bringing the former Confederate states back into the Union was corrupt, undemocratic, vindictive and ultimately ruined a smooth reunification of the country after the Civil War. More recent historians such as Eric Foner have strongly disagreed with this thesis and have argued Reconstruction was a noble venture which was destroyed by southern racists, not heavy-handed radicals in Congress. Moreover, Foner and others have discarded the Dunning School and like-minded historians as biased mythmakers who’ve given credence to white supremacy.

Coates throws this same charge at Hillary as he denounces her insidious “amnesia” and equates a Dunning scholar interpreting the era as “the Africanization of the South” with her debate remarks.

“[T]he fact that a presidential candidate would imply that Jim Crow and Reconstruction were equal, that the era of lynching and white supremacist violence would have been prevented had that same violence not killed Lincoln, and that the violence was simply the result of rancor, the absence of a forgiving spirit, and an understandably ‘discouraged’ South is chilling,” the Atlantic writer laments.

It’s quite the stretch to say Clinton’s statement is in anyway saying something “chilling.” The era in the South was full of rancor and the agenda — set largely by Radical Republicans from New England — was in fact imposed at the end of the bayonet. Many Southerners were disenfranchised at the ballot box and many of the political officials of the time period were not from the area and were only put into office by a small fraction of the population.

This situation understandably left a majority of Southerners “discouraged and defiant” and doomed the chances of Reconstruction’s success. Instead of aiming at reconciliation, the system came to been seen as an act of retribution on the part of victorious Northerners. That doesn’t excuse the brutal violence and terror of white southerners who took up arms against Reconstruction, but it does explain why Clinton would make that statement.

All she was saying was that if Lincoln had not been assassinated, he would’ve probably done a better job of implementing Reconstruction due to his political skills and conciliatory spirit.

The problem for Clinton is that, according to the contemporary consensus of the Left, an undemocratic, vengefully-imposed Reconstruction was a terrific thing.

The Huffington Post’s analysis of the apparent gaffe made it clear that liberals think it was absolutely right for the North to foist Reconstruction on the South “at gunpoint.” The lefty publication buttressed its argument by cheerfully telling its readers that the 19th century program would’ve been like “if a big chunk of today’s Republican Party was blocked from voting.”

The implication here is that the majority of Southerners rejecting Reconstruction was not a sign of its failure but evidence that these folks didn’t deserve their rights as Americans.

However, the controversy over Clinton’s Reconstruction “revisionism” surprisingly still pales in comparison to Coates’s chief criticism of her primary opponent.

“In the Democratic Party, there is, on the one hand, a candidate who seems comfortable doling out the kind of myths that undergirded racist violence. And on the other is a candidate who seems uncomfortable asking whether the history of racist violence, in and of itself, is worthy of confrontation,” he wrote in his anti-Hillary piece.

What Coates was referring to in the second sentence is his previous criticism of Bernie Sanders for not supporting reparations for African-Americans, which the writer believes is tantamount to ignoring America’s inherent abundance of white supremacy.

“Sanders’s radicalism has failed in the ancient fight against white supremacy. What he proposes in lieu of reparations—job creation, investment in cities, and free higher education—is well within the Overton window, and his platform on race echoes Democratic orthodoxy,” Coates argued in a January 19 article.

“This is the ‘class first’ approach, originating in the myth that racism and socialism are necessarily incompatible. But raising the minimum wage doesn’t really address the fact that black men without criminal records have about the same shot at low-wage work as white men with them; nor can making college free address the wage gap between black and white graduates. Housing discrimination, historical and present, may well be the fulcrum of white supremacy,” he continues.

Coates concludes that Sanders’s radicalism would let “white supremacy in America to endure well beyond our lifetimes and lifetimes of our children.” That’s because reparations “is not one possible tool against white supremacy. It is the indispensable tool against white supremacy.”

The reason the Vermont senator opposes reparations is because it would divide the country and have zero chance of passing Congress — and he’s absolutely right. The idea is wildly unpopular among Americans of all races and would very well drive a wedge between citizens of this country. Forcing one group of people to make financial restitution to another group of people for actions that they weren’t even alive when they occurred is guaranteed to tear the nation apart.

Coates acknowledges these concerns, but he thinks they don’t matter at all and criticizes Sanders for failing to titillate the progressive “imagination” by repeating them.

The race-obsessed polemicist portrays reparations not as an act designed for racial reconciliation but as one of punishment. His 2014 article, “The Case for Reparations,” spent most of its pixels listing off how awful White America has been to black people, and then segues into how his proposal is the only way to make up for it. Little mention is made of restoring harmony in America if reparations are handed down.

In other words, liberals are totally fine with implementing unpopular, punitive measures on large parts of the population. That’s the point. Reparations would act as Reconstruction 2.0 and would amount to a total power transfer from one designated group of Americans to another group of Americans. The ones paying the bill would have no say in the matter. They’re being punished for crimes of the ancestors, and their only task is to nod and follow along.

That’s why mentioning the rancor of Reconstruction is unpardonable. It was the right thing to do to force it down upon the South with rifles and dictates. The South deserved to be fully punished, reconciliation was a distant concern.

Liberals who follow Coates believe that White America is so rotten and corrupt that illiberal means have to be enacted to achieve egalitarian ends. Like the vanquished South, if 21st century Americans don’t want to go along with reparations, tough shit. The compensation is for the greater good — supposedly.

Ultimately, the criticisms both Clinton and Sanders are receiving from the Left illustrates how extreme the other side of politics has become. It’s now appropriate to demand candidates endorse ideas mainstream America has no interest in and is harmful to our national harmony. And the candidates have to play to this sentiment, as evidenced by the Clinton campaign later “clarifying” her Reconstruction remarks.

If Democrats are cowed into advancing this agenda, we can only hope they are kept far from power.

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