Erin Whidden: The Idiocy of Slavery Reparations

    Since the rise of Black Lives Matter (BLM), demands for reparations for slavery have become fairly popular among the group’s members and supporters. Even if I was delusional enough to support such an absurd demand, I just don’t see how attempting such an undertaking is feasible or even possible at all. Whether government funded or taxpayer funded, I see reparations for something that ended 152 years ago as a complete waste of

money; no one alive today was a slave or slave owner, and we have plenty of real issues to tackle that are actually worth spending money on.

    If the idea of reparations for slavery as a whole isn’t laughable enough to begin with, then one proposal made by a Chicago SJW by the name of Howshua Amariel will have you rolling. At the National Reparations Convention, he proposed that the U.S. government would be required to make reparations to the proven descendants of slaves, and “For those blacks who wish to remain in America, they should receive reparations in the form of free education, free medical, free legal and free financial aid for over 50 years with no taxes levied. For those desiring to leave America, every black person would receive a million dollars or more, backed in gold, in reparation.”

Yes, someone actually said that.

   How would businesses or schools in black neighborhoods ever survive if their services were free? Amariel clearly did not take economics into consideration when he thought out this proposition. Let’s say that rather than accept free services, that every American of African heritage left the country and received “a million dollars or more” each. There are 42.6 million black people in America, so that would cost the U.S. government at least 42.6 million dollars. Entirely unnecessary and wasteful. There are so many other things that this country could use 42.6 million dollars for…something that benefits the country as a whole, rather than just one group of people. No matter what sort of “solution” can be proposed, there is no way for it to not negatively affect the U.S. economically.

I have also heard propositions calling for white people to pay reparations to black people. This is perhaps even more absurd than the assertation that the government should pay for reparations. First of all, only a very small percentage of Americans owned slaves during slavery. At the peak of slavery in the south, 6 percent of white southerners owned slaves, and if you include northerners, it was only 1.4 percent of all white Americans. Even if a white person alive today is the descendant of slave owners, they still don’t owe anyone anything. We are not responsible for what our ancestors did. Being that Africans enslaved other Africans, and then sold them to foreign slave traders, shouldn’t they be calling for reparations from each other, too? Even in America, around 3,000 black people owned 20,000 slaves in the year 1860.

It’s not as if black people are the only group to be historically mistreated in this country, or the world for that matter, either. Textbooks won’t mention it, but there were in fact white slaves throughout the world and in America. According to many historians, two-thirds of all whites came to the colonies in bondage, and hundreds of thousands were kidnapped and brought to this country as well. Just like black slaves, they were also sold at auctions, beaten, and generally mistreated. White convicts were also sent to the colonies (such as Georgia, which was originally intended to be a penal colony) and used as slave labor.

The King James I Proclamation of 1625 required Irish political prisoners to be shipped overseas to the West Indies and sold to the English settlers there. 30,000 Irish were sent to the New World and quickly became the biggest source of human labor for the English. In the 1640s, more than 500,000 Irish were killed by the English, while another 300,000 were sold into slavery. This caused the population of Ireland to drop from 1,500,000 to 600,000 in only 10 years. The remaining women and children who had their husbands or fathers taken from them were now homeless, so the English decided to solve this problem by auctioning them off as well. During the next decade, 100,000 Irish children between 10 and 14 were kidnapped to be sold to Virginia, New England, and the West Indies. Another 52,000 Irish women and children were sold to both Virginia and Barbados, while 30,000 men and women were also sold at slave auctions. Cromwell also ordered that 2000 Irish children be sent to Jamaica as slaves for the English settlers there.

In the late 1600s, an African slave costed 50 Sterling, but an Irish slave only costed 5 Sterling at the most. With this in mind, slavers did not see it as a huge setback to beat an Irish slave to death. African slaves were treated better because they were more expensive, and losing one would be considered a monetary setback. The English also began “breeding” Irish women and girls with African slaves so that they could sell the mixed offspring for a higher price than a cheap Irish slave. This went on until 1681, when legislation was passed that forbid the practice because it interfered with profits. Still, England continued to enslave the Irish for more than a century.

However, the mistreatment of the Irish did not stop there. In the 19th century, the English and the Americans saw the Irish as an inferior race to the Anglo-Saxons. They were depicted as violent, temperamental, ape-like alcoholics, and the Irish Catholics were especially targeted. After the Great Famine (1845-1852), many Irish immigrated from Ireland to places such as Liverpool and the United States. Business owners posted signs reading “No Irish Need Apply” (“NINA Signs”, which inspired many songs) outside of their businesses, and in America, the Know-Nothing Movement tried to prevent Irish Catholics from getting into public office, often through mob violence. Because of this, the Irish filled the most dangerous and low paying jobs. Slurs such as “Bog-trotter”, “Mick”, “Paddy”, “Taig”, “Prod” and many others were used against the Irish.

I don’t recall this ever even being touched on in my entire school career, even though I was lucky enough to be in one of top three school systems in my state.

    I have yet to hear any Americans of Irish heritage (which includes myself and The Typical Liberal) ask for any sort of repayment. While this is a horrible reality that no doubt had a horrific effect on my ancestors, this has little to no effect on me today that I can see, other than making me proud that my ancestors were able to carry on despite a history of slavery and discrimination. The Italians, Germans, Jews, Chinese, Japanese, Hispanics, and various other groups were also prejudiced against in America, yet I don’t hear any of them asking for reparations, either- and before you point out that the Japanese did receive reparations for internment, these reparations were given to people who were surviving victims of internment, not way down the line descendants of them. They all managed to “get over it”, so to speak, so I don’t know why it’s so hard for groups like BLM to do the same.

I see absolutely no reason for people to feel victimized by the struggles of their great-great-greats; it is more logical in my mind to honor their strength and perseverance, and to be thankful that today we are able to live much better lives. I can only assume that slaves and immigrants dreamed of a day when their descendants could have more fortunate lives, and today we are living their dream in this country regardless of race. To know what they went through and then still try to call yourself a “victim” in America in 2017 is beyond disrespectful in my opinion. It is time for people to stop letting events that happened decades before their own lifetime hold them down and to stop blaming others for their own short comings. This country can never move forward if we dwell on something that ended 152 years ago. I don’t see racism as something that will ever go completely away, however, I think that groups like BLM are only worsening racial divide in this country by doing things like calling for reparations. That isn’t going to “fix” anything. The past is the past, and all we can do is learn from it.

So, once again, just to be clear: No black person alive today is owed anything for slavery. No white person today owes any black person anything for slavery.

If you have questions or comments, you can send me a message on my Instagram: @erinwhidden