Talk Of Racial Reparations Produces A Toxic Policy Debate

REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
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Yes, I know. Don’t let the idiocies of college students concern you too much because, after all, these are merely the days of wine and roses for young adults who will grow out of it.

But unfortunately, many of them don’t — especially if their academic leaders affirm their notions of qualified free speech and a safe space for every occasions. We would be well advised to assess the crazy whims of academia with a sufficient degree of sobriety because these they can quickly become political policy proposals that are eagerly embraced by a left-wing political establishment that never tires of its fascination with the weird, the bizarre and the unfeasible.

The students at Western Kentucky University (WKU) really have arrived at a ridiculous notion: offering free tuition to black students as a means of paying reparations for slavery and other past wrongs endured by African-Americans. Thankfully, their proposal has not moved beyond the confines of student government and has not been applauded by the university’s management itself.

For now, anyway.

Before we go any further down this road, it is worth noting that the reparations have already been paid. They were paid by the 300,000 Union soldiers who died in the Civil War, whether they personally supported emancipation or the full efflorescence of black rights as we know them today. That was precisely what Abraham Lincoln meant when he talked about the war being divine punishment for the sin of slavery

But if the civil war was a form of reparation — and their can certainly be no greater price pay than the ultimate sacrifice of one’s life — at least it was paid for by people who lived at the same historical period as those who they paid the reparations for.

To suggest that blacks living today, in an age separated by over 150 years by the end of slavery, should somehow deserve payment for justice due is not just the height of idiocy, it is poor salesmanship.

If you happen to be white today, you don’t owe anybody a buck or an apology for something your forefathers did or stood for. No one should be able extract their living from you today because of something that happened to someone else many yesterday’s ago.

I should hope that would be received as common sense or at least the the clearest form of reverse discrimination ever devised.  Just as some whites used to judge all blacks on the basis of the color of their skin, some blacks are now demanding that we reward them on the very same basis.

It is especially galling of these students to suggest that it doesn’t matter if your ancestors were even around to suffer the lash of slavery — symbolically you were. Yet the debt owed is hardly symbolic but translates into hard cash.

America is clearly losing its way along the path for racial reconciliation.

It remains a singular tragedy of the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King that we lost not only a great political leader but a clear definition of the racial injustice in America.

King eloquently expressed the notion that government and indeed individuals needed to be color-blind and not judge people on the basis of the color of their skin. How wonderfully simple.

For too many black leaders today and the kids who will soon fill their shoes, it is all about race and all about establishing a special status based on that race — exactly what is was like in the days of slavery and Jim Crow.

It is producing a policy toxicity that is poisoning the racial discourse in this country.

As for reparations, just when are they to end? Reparations have not produced positive results when imposed upon countries and they will not work if forced upon people. The demand for reparations induces nothing more than resentment and a longing for revenge. As we have heard so often, the victors of the First World War virtually guaranteed a second global conflict by grinding a defeated Germany into dust and economic despair. Weimar Germany was supposed to be paying reparations to the French and British until the 1980s but history didn’t work out that way.

If we start demanding that people today pay for mistakes made by the generations of the past, we will only be sowing the seeds of additional injustice and multiplying those mistakes.

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