Reparations: Democrats weigh compensation
Generations of slavery, segregation, and discrimination have created a massive wealth gap between white and black Americans, said Paul Blest in SplinterNews.com. Democrats in the past have acknowledged “that this country has been and continues to be racist as hell,” but now a few 2020 hopefuls “are saying we should actually do something about it.” Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), as well as former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, have thrown their support behind reparations for African-Americans. That means “very different things to different people,” said James Hohmann in The Washington Post. “Many think of direct cash payments to African-Americans when they hear the word.” But the reparations Democratic candidates back look more like Warren’s proposal for home-buying assistance in mainly black neighborhoods or Cory Booker’s savings accounts for poor children.
The legacy of slavery and segregation still haunts us, said Kevin Williamson in National Review, but race-based reparations “are the wrong way to mitigate that evil.” For one thing, the overwhelming majority of white Americans firmly oppose the idea. Whites with no living connection to slavery, many of whose ancestors arrived here after the Civil War, resent being asked to accept collective responsibility. There’s also the question of whether black Americans not descended from slaves have a valid claim. Reparations “would almost certainly lead to an even uglier and bitterer species of racial politics than the one we already have.” Democrats are handing President Trump a huge gift, said Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post. Like abolishing ICE or taking away private health insurance, reparations is a political nonstarter that will hurt them among swing voters they need to win. “It’s an unforced error with no upside.”
If only Democrats were truly serious about reparations, said Bankole Thompson in The Detroit News. There should be a national discussion about what this country owes to the descendants of slaves, whose stolen labor helped build it. That would include “well-thought-out policies that would specifically address the legacy of slavery.” But instead of offering concrete details, candidates have merely rebranded their existing proposals as “reparations” when they clearly aren’t. Such obvious pandering could backfire among black voters. “The conversation about reparations has to be more than just politicking for votes.”