The Reparations Article

The Atlantic’s article by Ta-Nehisi Coates on reparations is an absolute must-read for anyone who claims to have an informed opinion about racial matters. For that matter, it’s a must read for anyone with an interest in quality writing or American history.

Several portions of the piece jumped out at me for their potential to serve as an excerpt, but I’ve resisted the temptation. To summarize it in chunks is an injustice. And doing injustice to an article about injustice is, well, that would be too much irony for a weekend.

Coates’ article is a unique game-changer. No one has ever assembled the complex history of American race relations in such a sound, succinct, accessible package. Whatever you may think about reparations, this article is a master work. This article is going to resonate for a long time.

There is one essential accompaniment to any discussion of Coates’ article. This explainer from NPR on “how to tell who hasn’t read the new Atlantic cover story” is indispensable. In summary, the three clues are:

1. They talk a lot about slavery

2. They talk about the logistics of reparations

3. They talk about affirmative action or welfare

By the way, the pitiful effort at a reply published by the National Review is notable for including two those tells while completely dodging the bulk of Coates’ case.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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Posted in Civil Rights, Race
202 comments on “The Reparations Article
  1. DanMan says:

    I started reading Coates’ tome last week when it came out in an attempt to get ahead of Crogged, who I figured would have linked this article already. I quit before I got to the part where several billions have been awarded through Pigford I, II and III.

    Imagine that, tens of thousands of cases of discrimination that allowed the USDA to award these billions of dollars to people who just had to declare they were discriminated against and not a single case of prosecution for denying civil rights to anyone. Amazing metric there.

    • Crogged says:

      Just think how much more powerful Mr. Coates’ writing would be if he were able to include every institutional oppression black Americans have faced the last 300 years, in one more than the forty eight pages published. Go ahead and finish it, I won’t spoil the ending for you.

  2. flypusher says:

    From the various stories the regulars have posted here, I can pretty safely assume that most of us were born after the Civil Rights movement. So, yes, we can fairly and truthfully say that WE didn’t create the system that failed to protect the Ross family’s rights, or give black vets equal benefits, or made sure that social safety net was under everyone. Therefore not OUR fault. But we are the heirs of that system, and what we choose/ don’t choose to do with it/ to it will be squarely on us. We cannot compensate everyone who was treated unfairly. That shouldn’t prevent people like Mr. Ross from having a chance to have his grievances addressed. We are responsible for learning about what happened, not sweeping it under the rug, and working on ways to stop it from happening again on our watch.

    • Anse says:

      It’s quite common for us in this present day to make a claim on the heroic legacies of our past. We go out of our way to connect our current prosperity and liberty to the sacrifice of two or three or more generations ago. But then we attempt to reject any connection to the injustices of the past, refusing to acknowledge how different history would have been had African-Americans had their full enfranchisement from the beginning.

      If we can wrap ourselves in the flag and claim the heritage of our heroes, then we ought to claim all of that heritage. Take the good and the bad. They go together.

  3. Crogged says:

    We have plenty of money.

    We don’t have the will to face the truth.

    I’ve been thinking about the expression, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

    Sorry about the double link.

    • Anse says:

      My feeling is that if the government simply enforced its anti-discrimination laws in housing and finance more stringently, and if we continued to support heavy investment in education and the kind of social work required to help get people out of generational cycles of poverty, and reduce the cost of higher education, and end the bloody drug war and reform sentencing guidelines, etc, we could do a lot to right these wrongs. I think direct cash payments could come in the form of investment opportunities in majority-black communities; make compensation something that is sustainable, and focus direct charitable giving in ways that will really benefit people the most. Handing money to an addict or a homeless person of any race without making some effort to get them on the right track is probably not the most effective thing.

  4. Anse says:

    I’ve only glossed over the comments here, but I’ve yet to find one that acknowledges where the real power in Coates’s argument lies. He doesn’t emphasize historical wrongs that were inflicted upon ancestors generations ago. He talks about that long history, but the real power is in his focus on living, breathing African-Americans who personally endured the deprivations of racism and the loss of opportunity it entailed. What Coates has done is highlight the legacy of racism in much the same way Holocaust survivors have sought recompense. I don’t mean to compare the two–as comparable as they are–because if we get into an argument over who had it worse, the Jews or the blacks, we’ll just get off the point of focus as we so often do. The point is that one of the big objections people have had to the idea of reparations is that they perceive it as an attempt to correct injustices of the past. Coates has done an outstanding job of articulating in precise detail a strong case for righting those wrongs that have been done to people who are still living today. He doesn’t allow us to get caught up in abstract debates about how young black people are carrying around this legacy or, to put it an another way, using racism as an excuse for destructive behavior. He zeroes in on people who have literally lost material wealth.

    I’ve seen people take great offense to the notion that they, specifically, must pay something to right these wrongs. The argument is based on the connection between the allocation of tax dollars as an extension of our personal contribution to the federal treasury. But we didn’t hear these objections when the government compensated Japanese-Americans for their internment during World War II. We don’t hear these objections when a falsely-accused inmate presses the state for compensation for his years of being wrongfully imprisoned. I didn’t put Anthony Graves on death row. Why should I be expected to have my tax dollars go to him? It’s a dumb argument and of course I fully endorse compensating people like Graves. But if we can rationalize that, then how can we ignore people like Clyde Ross, whose family was forced off land they owned? Who was redlined out of owning a home by racist banking policies? This is a man who was personally denied access to the American Dream for unjust reasons. We can do these things for these other people, but not for him?

    • CaptSternn says:

      The article pointed out how land was taken from black people and later became a country club. That is wrong, no doubt. But what about the land taken from white people to build a Walmart, which was abandoned and became a dump? That’s part of the problem focusing on race, others get overlooked.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I am all for looking at remedying injustice across the board, but the focus of this particular article happens to be on the Black experience. If anyone wants to present an article on atrocities committed by Wal-Mart, I’m sure you will find a sympathetic ear here. How about a guest blog post tomorrow?

      • flypusher says:

        What about the land taken from white people? Was that through eminent domain? If so, they at least got some compensation, so that would be less unfair than what happened to the Ross family, who got nothing. This is not an endorsement of using eminent domain in that way, as I think using it as a means to take property from one private entity and give it to another private entity is a gross abuse of the power. The SCOTUS had a prime opportunity to put a stop to that with Kelo, but sadly they chose to punt.

      • John Galt says:

        Injustices happen to people of any race, whether through government action (eminent domain) or inaction (lax enforcement). At least in the South, whites so aggrieved are the exception, for blacks, this sort of treatment has been the rule. This is an important thing to remember: you’ll not find too many blacks over the age of 50 throughout America, but especially in the South, who did not have to contend with institutional barriers, whether public or private. As the Ross story shows, this inevitably affects their children’s access to education and opportunity, perpetuating the cycle.

      • Anse says:

        If those white people did not receive fair market value for their land, then yes, they are absolutely owed recompense. And changes in the law that make it expressly illegal to confiscate private property for transference to private business entities.

      • flypusher says:

        “And changes in the law that make it expressly illegal to confiscate private property for transference to private business entities.”

        Would that it were so Anse, but state laws (such as Texas’) have definition of blight loopholes big enough to build a Super Walmart in.

      • Anse says:

        The problem for me is that Republicans really want more government services privatized to the farthest extent possible. That means corporations doing government work, which opens the door to a bit of a paradox: if a defense contractor really, really needs that patch of land over there to build a new plant so it can build tanks for the army, would the government have good reason to confiscate that property and hand it off to the privately-held defense contractor, since they’re doing government work?

        The one area where Texas seems especially indifferent to the rights of property owners is in oil and gas exploration. I actually think the state would be careful in placing private property in the hands of real estate developers; but if an oil company wants to drill next door to your ranch, you are just shit out of luck. Forget about it. And if they want to dump their waste in your backyard you just have to buy a good gas mask and learn to live with it.

  5. tuttabellamia says:

    As I posted yesterday, I decided to take my time reading this article in order to give it its proper due. I’ve had enough of skimming articles in the rush just to have something to post. It’s disrespectful to the author, especially this one, who seems to have put his heart and soul into this work, which is not to say that it was based on emotion. It was based on logic, and it should be required reading in history classes.

    I often complain about the nonstop discourse about race. My complaints have had more to do with seeing the same tired arguments come up again and again, with the arguments merely being partisan and sometimes personal among bloggers, and Blacks being more or less forgotten in the jumble, used as pawns.

    This article takes a fresh approach, sets aside partisanship bickering, and brings our attention back to where it belongs — to the plight of Blacks. By illustrating it in stark economic terms, he simplifies it, makes it easier to understand, and that’s where this article excels. It seems many of us here were struck by certain passages. I was particularly moved by the part about how land that had been stolen from a Black family became a country club.

    Even though Mr. Coates paints the plight of Blacks in economic terms, in order for us to understand it better, his call for reparations is not really financial. He calls for an analysis of reparations within the legislature more for the frank discussion that would hopefully result, for some major soul searching, for reparations that come from deep within us, for UNDERSTANDING, ACCEPTANCE, and ACKNOWLEDGMENT more than anything.

    Even he acknowledges that it would be impractical to recompense Blacks in monetary terms for all the harm done. I find it sadly ironic that it’s for that very reason — the harm done is so great and so long-lasting as to be incalculable — that it’s impossible to determine how to pay for it. and so therefore, the debt essentially gets written off, which is rather convenient, especially with the passage of time. Pretty soon, the people most directly and indisputably harmed will all be dead, and the only people left will be those continuing to suffer the indirect consequences of past sins, until we reach the point of forgetting how they got that way.

  6. John Galt says:

    I’ve been out of communications range for the last couple of days doing something infinitely more important than posting gibes here, which is to say spending some time with my family. I want to thank Chris for posting the link to this article, which I found to be fascinating, depressing, guilt-inducing and uplifting all at the same time.

    African-Americans have been systematically excluded from the American dream for centuries; it is impossible to think this could possibly change with the stroke of a pen, yet many seem to think exactly that. The article does a good job of putting human faces on the costs of institutional racism, one that existed during slavery and was not ended by the 13th Amendment, nor by Brown v. Board of Education, nor by the Civil Rights Act, nor by the election of Obama. Hopefully, it is growing more faint by the day, but it has not ended.

    I was pulled over a couple of weeks ago on my way to New Orleans for a conference. I was driving a crappy rental minivan and was accused of following too closely (utter bullshit). Rarely for me, I actually was not speeding, because I was in traffic, when the DPS officer pulled up on my passenger side. The van was loaded with six of my students and post-docs and, as it turns out, two of the passengers on that side were Hispanic. The third, behind slightly tinted windows, had dark hair and probably looked that way. I was asked to get out of the vehicle and after establishing who I was and who the passengers were, I was sent on my way with a warning. I played my part by chatting amiably with the officer. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind why we were pulled over nor what the outcome could have been if the officer and I had not been in the same “fraternity.”

    Sternn, in comments below, seems to think that there is no middle ground (surprise) between utter shame at one’s country and blind pride. As a Texan, he has an identity somewhat different than mine. I am a Southerner, born, raised, and proud to be from Georgia. My home state has seen some of the most virulent racism known in this country. Lynchings are not the sole provenance of Mississippi. Yet, it also allowed the rise of MLK, Jr. and saw a dignified, if ineffectual president in Jimmy Carter. The public commemorations of MLK’s death in Atlanta were largely underwritten by a white businessman who recognized that things had to change (Robert Woodruff). Atlanta is a powerhouse of a city built on an accommodation between white and black, but the state flag contained the Southern Cross for all of my childhood. It still flies in rural areas today; not the least bit ironically, these are the poorest areas of the state.

    When I think about the history of racial inequality in Georgia, my first emotion is neither pride nor shame, but sadness. Sadness at the appalling waste of human capital caused by fear perpetuated by my white ancestors. Sadness that more blacks have not been able to “move on up” since the official barriers collapsed. Sadness at what could have been so much better.

    • kabuzz61 says:

      I am sure your white ancestors had a big effect on the harm and degradation of blacks. Whereas, my ancestors had absolutely nothing to do with it. There stands the main problem with reparations. Some blacks are directly effected by institutionalized racism, some not. Some whites were involved in that racism, either passive or directly and some have not.

      And also, with no proof whatsoever, no evidence, no facts, you are sure you were pulled over because you had Hispanics in the van. See, it is your thoughts, your perceptions that keep the hate alive.

    • John Galt says:

      Sweeping things under the rug does not make them go away, Kabuzz.

    • objv says:

      JG: Your post made me smile. My daughter was with her professor and two Chinese exchange students doing field work (of a geological kind) in South Texas not all that far from the border. Unfortunately, the exchange students didn’t have their passports with them. Her professor had a bit of explaining to do when they were pulled over.

      My son is heading out for five weeks of geology field camp in a few days. The students will be camping out almost the whole time with limited shower opportunities. All I can say is that I’m glad that the trailer they are pulling has the University logo and GEOLOGY emblazoned on both sides.

  7. Turtles Run says:

    For Memorial Day, A Poem from a Vet
    This is “You Have No Fucking Clue” by Vietnam War veteran Joe Depaoli

    A bunch of young men in their late teens riding a bus to MCRD San Diego; “Get the hell out of the bus and on those yellow footprints you fucking Maggots”.
    You have no fucking idea

    Congratulations Marine, the pride one has.
    You have no fucking idea

    On our way by ship to Vietnam, riding out a two day typhoon on an old WWII troop transport,
    You have no fucking idea

    Off the coast of Vietnam, watching flairs, tracer rounds flying, shell bursts,
    You have no fucking idea

    Getting on a Mike boat and setting foot on enemy land locked and loaded,
    You have no fucking idea

    An officer comes and says we can’t fire on the enemy until they fire first,
    You have no fucking idea

    The first night in enemy country,
    You have no fucking idea

    Short round, several Marines wounded; Cpl. Take those two new Marines out about 3 clicks and set up an LP. Night, dark as hell, seeing movement, fire M16 full auto, hear yells of I’m hit, I’m hit; cease fire, we just fired on or own ambush.
    You have no fucking idea

    Not on point today, why am I flying in the air, trip wire and a grenade;
    You have no fucking idea

    Scraping my wounds and the wounds of guys next to me out with a brush, no anesthetic until they are clean and bleeding,
    You have no fucking idea

    On the hospital ship USS Sanctuary, standing on the railing, watching a CH46 attempting to land on the flight deck, it suddenly pitches right and 19 folks are in the water… only 5 survivors.
    You have no fucking idea

    Alfa Co. is gridded in by the NVA, only 26 non casualties out of 115 marines, rescue effort to pick up the dead and wounded, place dead and wounded on tanks.
    You have no fucking idea

    Take the wounded and dead off the tanks, some flesh remains on the tank exhaust, the burning flesh of Marines, so hastily loaded aboard,
    You have no fucking idea

    Back at Con Thien, only a couple of hundred incoming today; buddy hit twice by shrapnel, blew my radio away and part of one of my fingers, got to get him to the chopper,
    You have no fucking idea

    Med evac buddy, he lost one eye, at the hospital in Da Nang, someone yells, everyone that can get under your beds, incoming,
    You have no fucking idea

    On a C130 flying over the South China sea, finally feel a little safe,
    You have no fucking idea

    One month later landing at Travis AFB the cheers of all aboard resound as we touchdown back in the world,
    You have no fucking idea

    Seeing my mother and father, round eyes, no smell of cordite, no smell of burning 55 gallon drums of shit, no orders to lock and load, no sound of incoming, no dead bloated maggot infested bodies of the enemy on the ground, no one screaming I’m hit medic up, no more shredded jungle fatigues, no more dumping of enemy bodies in town squares,
    You have no fucking idea

    I look at my mother and father, dad has a fucking idea because he was in WWII, and my mother has a fucking idea because of being in an occupied country in WWII, nothing is said or needs to be said other than “Glad you are home son.”

    My wife, my children my grand children most of my family and friends,
    You have no fucking idea

    Dear Lord, Dear Ancient ones, how I wish I had no fucking idea.
    – See more at:

    • Turtles Run says:

      Same vow as every year. Too never sit by quietly as we send young people to fight in another useless war.

    • CaptSternn says:

      Turtles, do you not understand that every time you read one of my comments, you are hearing from a veteran? Do you not understand that Kabuzz is a veteran?

      You have no idea, and I have no need to use profanity to make that point.

      • Turtles Run says:


        Do you not realize the world does not revolve around you and Buzzy? I posted a poem from a veteran and American that is entitled to speak his mind. I made my comments not just as a veteran but as a concerned American that believes that our nation’s service people should not be asked to potentially pay the ultimate price without every possible effort to avoid having to ask for that price.

        If that is too much for you then so be it. I refuse to be a mindless automaton.

    • CaptSternn says:

      Speaking of useless wars,how about Neville Chamberlain? Peace in our time?

      • Turtles Run says:

        Peace in our time? I guess that is frightening to you neo-cons. Just for your information, Saddam Hussein was no Hitler. Even if he did scare you.

      • CaptSternn says:

        No, he was not Hitler, but he sure wanted to be like Hitler, as Hitler was his idol. He wanted his Ba’ath Party to immulate the Nazi Party. Did you skip that part of history, or is it that you are ignoring it because you find it inconvenient?

      • Turtles Run says:

        He could have wanted to be Captain Kirk for all I care. He was no threat to this nation. Should we start wars because leaders of a nation are crazy. With that criteria we should invade North Korea? The past three leaders have been delusional power mad sadists and they have often broken the truce they signed.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Iraq started the war with the invasion of Kuwait and threatened Saudi Arabia, Turtles. It lasted for over 12 years.

        North Korea is a different matter. We did invade it once, and China responded. Maybe you would want to look that up?

      • Turtles Run says:

        Yes, China responded. So because of that we think twice about redoing the Korean War even though they have blatantly violated the treaty for over 60 years.

        But unfortunately you do not give any thought towards Iraq. So they invade Kuwait and threatened Saudi Arabia, in the early 90’s, well we took care of that with the first Iraq war and contained them afterwards. They may have violated the treaty, like Korea, but in the end they were still no threat to anyone.

        Even former House Majority Leader Dick Armey admitted that Cheney “bullshitted” him on the Iraq evidence. Or is your claim that we should only start needless wars against weak nations with the flimsiest of excuses. Because I rather still have a contained Saddam versus all the lost lives and treasury wasted in that war.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Try again Turtles. We did not start the war with Iraq, Iraq started with the invasion of Kuwait. For that a strict cease-fire was imposed on Iraq, not some sort of treaty. Compliance was not optional, it was required. Iraq refused and continued to wage war, continued to be a serious threat and was working with al Qaeda through the 1990s. There were not two wars, but one war that lasted over 12 years. You do not understand the matter, as I did not back in 2003. I did the research and changed my mind on the 2003 invasion. You don’t want too deal with facts, you refuse simply because you don’t like Bush43 or republicans in general.

        And yes, we stay out of North Korea because of China. That war is also still offically in progress.

      • Turtles Run says:

        “You don’t want too deal with facts, you refuse simply because you don’t like Bush43 or republicans in general.”

        Actually, I dislike fools. Their political party of choice is not relevant to me. As for the war in Iraq there was no need to finish it in 2003. No need to topple the regime, no need to attempt to nation build, and no need to pretend about links to Al-Quaeda or fake WMDs.

        We are not the world’s policeman.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Actually, we kind of are the world’s police. That is good for us. As for that containment of Iraq, look at what it cost us on September 11, 2001. Al Qaeda was not against us until we decided to “occupy” Muslim Holy Lands to keep the war with Iraq going. Clinton did not just make the stuff up about the ties between Iraq and al Qaeda to distract people from the blue dress.

  8. CaptSternn says:

    Dan, it is interesting that you assign people on this blog to characters of Atlas Shrugged. You have assigned me to Francisco d’Anconia, and though I am flattered, I don’t think it fits. I am more along the line of Quentin Daniels. I think Owl is the Philip Rearden. Lifer is the Wesley Mouch. I would not assign any here the title of John Galt, even though there is one that claims that title. Cuffy may or may not be the right title for him, but since he claims the title of John Galt, Cuffy just might be right.

    • John Galt says:

      As I have posted before, I did not choose John Galt as my nom de plume due to some delusion that I was the mythic inventor but for an entirely different implication. Dan can call me whatever he wishes, befitting his ten-year old mentality; I really couldn’t care less. Calling Chris Wesley Mouch, well, that is very telling about the name caller and very little about the intended target.

      • CaptSternn says:

        And my choice of Captain Sternn goes back some 20 years. It had nothing to do with politics or anything else the foul fowl of Bellaire has tried to asscociate it with. But since the foul fowl of Bellaire has called me out based on my chosen handle, and Dan has made comparisons, why not have some fun with it?

        I am no more a real Captain Sternn than you are a real John Galt. I chose my handle some 20 years ago in playing online video games. It stuck, it grew, it is now my internet handle. I had and have domain names (Owl is so obsessed that Owl seeks out domain names and knows my personal information).

        Then again, you refer to the ten-year-old mentality, like Turtles calling me a “tea bagger” … ” … well, that is very telling about the name caller and very little about the intended target.”

      • John Galt says:

        That’s between you and Turtles, or you and Owl. I don’t really care who you are in real life; if you choose to remain an avatar and video game identity, I’m not going to try to out you.

      • geoff1968 says:

        Ayn Rand…useless ideological tripe. A rabbit hole for the intellect. What Ta-Nehisi says is true. There is no debate regarding the veracity of his piece. An adult American knows. People get screwed over in America every day. No one deserves special treatment because of a past wrong. Correcting the present, however, is an idea I am willing to entertain.

        Does that include amnesty?

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year-old’s life: *The Lord of the Rings* and *Atlas Shrugged*. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.” — John Rogers

  9. Owl of Bellaire says:

    Sternn waxed lyrical about his quest for and emphatic insistence on the true meaning of the U.S. Constitution. I was responding directly, but it got long enough I thought perhaps I shouldn’t clutter up the middle of an existing thread with such a response.

    The American system failed — yes, failed — after the laissez-faire blandishments of late nineteenth-century Republicans led to multiple social, political, and economic changes and convulsions, culminating in the crisis of the Great Depression. Roosevelt’s quite genuine fear was that the U.S. might suffer its own communist revolution — which would, I hasten to say, have been a terrible fate, and truly have ended the American experiment.

    And when such a formidable system fails, much as with the crisis of the Roman Republic, or the Roman Empire’s “Crisis of the Third Century”, or other models (though I’m a classicist and tend toward what is most familiar), you often find that new governing principles and methods arise which use the language and appearances of the old systems, but reflect a fundamentally different reality. Such has been the late-twentieth-century American state. It was politically and practically impossible for Roosevelt alone to alter the American government’s basic laws in order to exactly match what was needed for its survival. However, both Republicans and Democrats agreed to “look the other way”, valuing survival and comity over the chaos and dissolution which might otherwise ensue.

    Some political scientists might identify this shift with the appearance of the “Fifth Party System” of American politics. The First Party System ended with the collapse of the Federalists and the rise of Jacksonian democracy, which also radically altered the nature and behavior of American government; the Second with the schism and rebirth of the Civil War; the Third with the aforementioned meltdown of the Gilded Age (particularly the Panic of 1893), leading to the Fourth System’s back-and-forth grappling over trusts, unions, and the place of an international role for the United States in an industrializing world, a dispute ended in the simultaneous political, economic, and military eruptions of that world which Roosevelt faced and overcame.

    Mind you, that bargain over allowing necessary change is now broken, and the Reagan Revolution ushered in some of the same forces of deregulation and kleptocracy which had produced the earlier crisis. (Some claim we are now in a Sixth Party System; others that these are still the death throes of the Fifth.). Our current political stalemates and entrenched hostilities, combined with some future calamity, could well force yet another shift in the practical nature of our government compared to its strict, foundational description. Or perhaps, like many previous nations subjected to multiple hazards and yet too brittle to adapt to them, we will shatter rather than change.

    The Constitution is a guidebook, not a straitjacket. Where the survival of the nation is at stake, the Constitution, in its interpretation and execution, even if not in its original intent or exact wording, must shift to fit. Sternn, perhaps, would prefer that we had no United States, and were instead a thoroughly disunited bunch of petty, regional democracies, each peculiar and particular in its jealously guarded regional differences, ripe to be dominated if not actually gobbled up by foreign powers, so long as we could claim some musty, dew-eyed allegiance to the founding principles of some antiquated, agrarian, aristocratic Founding Fathers.

    Modernity and survival are more important than petty ideologues’ infantile idealism. Nobody likes realpolitik but, well, there are those pesky first four letters.

    • CaptSternn says:

      These United States are just that, United States, not a single state. I wonder what will happen when a nation decides to leave the European Union, or is kicked out. Will they have a “Civil War”? That is something that you cannot accept because of your desire, your need, to control others and depend on others for your existence.

      The U.S. Constitution is not a guidebook, it is law. It is the law, the highest law of the land. Owl suggests that freedom of religion is just an idea, but the federal government can establish a national religion and church for the general welfare. Freedom of speech and press, just a guideline that does not have to be allowed. Trial by jury, just a suggestion that is not a right. Don’t even let Owl get to the part about the right to keep and bear arms, or not housing troops.

      Immenent domain? No, of course not, all property rightfully belongs to the government anyway. Private property is simply a government expense. Allowing a person to keep some of what they earn is a government expense. The constituion is not law, but only a suggestion. The people are not citizens, but only serfs. The federal government is the soveriegn, not the people.

      That is how the foul fowl of Bellaire sees the world. Is it any suprise that a free person, a person that values individual liberty and rights, would so opposes a person like Owl? Is it any suprise that a self-avowed socialist, a person that claimes capitalism and private property has failed would so strongly oppose me? I think not. And that is the core of the issue.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Sternn, prior to the Civil War it was common practice to say “The United States are….” Since then, however, usage has changed so that we say “The United States is….” As so often, history has left you behind. We are one nation, not fifty, despite your witless and ineffectual puling.

        As for your lies about my attitude toward constitutional rights, well, such outright distortion is just further proof of your ignorance and desperation. And assholery.

        Capitalism hasn’t failed; like democracy, it is the worst system except for all the others, and just needs proper safeguards in place to let its virtues outweigh its excesses.

        But, by all means, continue your infantile, ignorant rants and demands for unearned respect as a virtuous martyr and unregarded prophet. The world is not the simplistic fairyland that you insist it must be; it is an arena of deliberate and necessary checks and balances, where the ideal and the practical collide in order to construct a complex world made of our cooperative choices, not from some mystical cosmic imperatives.

        Everyone with any sense has long since recognized that you’re full of shit.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Remove the pile of shit from your eye before you talk about the speck in someone elses.

        Owly, you are thee most infantile commenter. You try to dress it up with vocabulary but it is name calling just the same.

      • CaptSternn says:

        And the foul fowl of Bellaire proves my point. ‘Nuff said. Check in tomorrow. Good Memorial Day.

      • GG says:

        It would behoove you, buzzy, to mind your own words.

  10. CaptSternn says:

    Bit of an interesting conversation after I signed off. Intrigue, I have never called for repealing any constitutional amendments that guarantee rights for anybody, unless you really think the 16th, 17th and 18th amendments somehow protect idividual rights. Only one of those has been repealed.

    I will try to make this simple for all of you, I do not believe a person is superior or inferior to any other, period. I do not behave differently towards a person or group than I would any other person or group based on something like the color of their skin or their sex or their religion. I respect until disrespect is earned. I am curteous and polite until rudeness is earned. I am tolerant of all people, even those that are intolerant. I do believe that every person should be free (the right already exists, but is being violated) to choose with whom they will associate and do business with. I do not believe in forced, involutary servitude of forced integration.

    And for that I am called a racist that believes in white supremacy.

    I would not be a patron of a business that served whites only. I would never imagine trying to force a business to sell me products or services that refused to serve whites (I could try to explain that I am also American Indian, but it wouldn;t be worth it to me). If my money isn’t green enough, then they don’t need enough for me to take it out of my pocket and hand it to them.

    Tutt says I am an indealist, and she should know. My idea, my belief, is that we live in the world we make. The world is as we make it, each of us. The world I make in my every day life is one where all people are created equal.

    I see many people here that make their world a place where white males are superior, women and “minorities” are inferior and need the help of white males to survive I see people here that believe “minorities” are not smart enough to figure out how to get a state issued ID, and they are the ones that call me a racist that believes in white supremacy.

    • kabuzz61 says:

      Captain, liberals do not see their policies and outlooks as racist because it is packaged in their ‘compassion’ case. They don’t see that their words and policies describe inferior human beings. Then you add on ‘white guilt’ and you have a grand slam. Anyone that doesn’t view minorities as they do are racist. It is quite the hole they dug out for themselves.

      You have people that do not view people as different colors but as plain old human beings, well, that is not acceptable to them.

      Guilt is not a motivator. Guilt is a flaw that needs to be addressed.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      Sternn, you might have some potential though unpopular argument against the 17th (direct election of senators), and few here would argue against you for the 18th (Prohibition). But if you oppose the Sixteenth Amendment (levying of income tax), then you simply don’t believe in the U.S. as a modern nation-state. And that displays an historical and political ignorance which basically rejects the entire twentieth century in domestic and international policy as a wholesale bad dream.

      In short, it is an appalling display of naïveté of the sort we’ve come to expect from you, in which you torture history, politics, economics, and any other unsuspecting social science in order to force them into the mold of your own Procrustean, self-justifying fantasies.

      • CaptSternn says:

        No, just a person that opposes income taxes in general, not to mention the messed up federal system of punishment of success, envy, jealousy and wealth redistribution.

        FYI, your use of a 50¢ word doesn’t impress me. Never has, never will. I do not disregard differences, I just don’t see the differences as superior or inferior.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        A national income tax is a practical necessity for the modern world. Quit whining and put on your big-boy pants.

        Taxes are not punishments; they are the dues we pay for belonging to a modern society. Of course, it seems like that’s part of your problem.

        Oh, and what 50¢ word? I thought I had a couple of $5 ones in there. But perhaps your standards of inflation, like your political ideas, are decades out of date.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Some need to know the difference between a tax and an income tax.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Kabuzz, as an example, periodically shows that he knows next to nothing.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Well old great owly, the Captain is addressing income tax, you are the one that went screaming and yelling into a “he said no tax” rant.

    • flypusher says:

      Sternn, we get your point. I fully understand the reasons you give for not liking anti-discrimination laws. Let the record show that I never never accused you of being racist because of that view. I do think that view is unrealistic and unworkable, it light of all the history which Mr. Coates’ excellent article reminds us about I have stated why I strongly disagree before; I won’t rehash it here. But I really doubt you get our points where you keep repeating garbage like this: “I see many people here that make their world a place where white males are superior, women and “minorities” are inferior and need the help of white males to survive …”.

      I seriously doubt you read the article when you keep saying that, or if you did, you didn’t think very hard about what it meant. Reparations is the hook, but the real lesson is about all the obstacles deliberately thrown in the way of black people trying to climb the ladder of success. There is one thing that black people do need from white people; they need for white people to stop putting their feet on black necks. Consider the story of Mr Ross that opens the article. When he was born, his family was doing pretty well. Left alone, they likely would have prospered. But they weren’t left alone. Some white people felt they were entitled to the Ross family’s property, and the system didn’t do squat to stop it. White feet on black necks, and we all know that wasn’t some isolated incident. Despite that setback, and not having a chance to go to that more advanced school (another foot on his neck), Mr. Ross serves in the military, and makes something of himself. Does he get the same benefits that white vets get? No. Does he get a fair deal in financing his house? No. More feet on his neck, holding him down. Today, you could argue that despite all that, he now has a decent life. I would argue what more might he have done if all those people had kept their feet off his neck?

      Owl described a race with people taking steps forward or back before starting, and how that affected the finish to demonstrate disparities. Maybe a slightly more accurate metaphor would be a race where everyone is starting in the same place, so it looks like it’s fair. But instead of people taking steps back if their parents didn’t finish college, or didn’t own a house, or any other circumstance of that kind, you get burdened by a weight that is invisible to everyone else. Then you run the race, and the people not burdened win, look back at the burdened ones and say “We started at the same line. You must not be running hard enough.”

      Lest you or anyone else protest that nobody is putting feet on anyone’s necks anymore, I refer to the end of the article. 2005 is when that crap happened.

    • Intrigued says:

      Stern, I judge your words and your arguments on this blog, not you as the person behind your Avatar. If you believe you are not a racist and do not act as a racist in the real world, then fine so be it. My opinion should mean nothing to you.

      When you choose to make unfounded accusations such as the housing market crashed “because blacks were given home loans and mortgages” or “these ideas of reparations are already put into practice, welfare, food stamps and promoting single parent homes through Section 8 Housing, generational welfare handed down from parent to child” you sound like a racist. When you make statements like “I do not believe in forced, involutary servitude of forced integration” you mirror the arguments made by racists opponents of segregation laws over 50 years ago. These examples are referenced from comments you made on this blog only.

      It is MY opinion that your beliefs are racist in nature.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Again, my point is proven. Intrigued, you listed all the give-aways offered to minorities and others because the white power that be think they can’t achieve on their own merits. Lowering standards for entry into police and fire departments because minorities can’t compete one on one with white people. That is your point. But if a conservative points out that these programs do nothing but stigmatize and hand cuff many minorities, you call the conservative a racist.

        You see color, I see people. You see inferiority, I see potential. You feel guilt, I feel confidence.

      • CaptSternn says:

        And there is your problem, which shows your racist nature, Intrigued. Redlining, Section 8 housing, generational welfare, food stamps are problems, and the people I knew and saw living that style of life were all white, the entire community was made up of white people. When I was staying in Rosenberg, I saw people on welfare, disability, food stamps and all the rest, and they were all white people. But, in your white supremacist view of the world, you simply assume I am talking only about black people because you assuime only black people would live such a lifestyle. That is the fundamental difference between us.

      • Intrigued says:

        Kabuzz did you miss the quotation marks? Those were Sterns words. I do not ignore the statistics on welfare programs and claim the recipients are mainly minorities. That would be you and Stern.

      • Intrigued says:

        Wow Stern you are an idiot! As I told Kabuzz I have never claimed that black people recieve welfare programs. Actually, in my small little world I have never witnessed the stereotypes that you and your buddies spew about minorities. Handouts? The minorities I know were too busy working their butt off to even know they existed. Why would you even make the claim that blacks are already recieving reparations in the form of handouts unless you believed it?

      • Tuttabella says:

        Cap, I have to agree with Intrigued on this one. You mentioned generational welfare as being reparations for Blacks, not Whites; therefore, you were the one you originally referred to Blacks, not Intrigued.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Cap- Not that that makes you a racist or a candidate for the KKK, just that you like to jump to conclusions sometimes, twist words around, in order,to one-up your fellow commenters. Games people play. But not racist.

  11. texan5142 says:

    Like Tutt said, that is one article that should be read slowly and carefully to absorb the depth of its entirety. Wow! Sure puts damper on assholes like Billo who proclaim that they are not a product of “white privilege ” for their “status” in life.

  12. Owl of Bellaire says:

    I’m reminded of an exercise from a summer educational program I once helped mentor, in which older high-school and college students who were interested in teaching were paired with smart but educationally under-served (and often minority) middle-school children. (This was the “Summerbridge” or “Breakthrough Collaborative” program, for those curious.). Staff and mentors offered a couple weeks of training and preparation beforehand, both on generating curriculum and on appreciating student backgrounds.

    All the teachers and staff lined up for a race. But, before the race began, we made a few adjustments, guided by these types of questions:

    If your parents had graduated from college, you took a step forward.
    If your grandparents had graduated from college, you took a step forward.
    If anyone in your immediate family had obtained an advanced degree, you took a step forward.
    If either of your parents had not completed high school, you took a step backward.
    If you were the first member of your family to attend college, you took a step backward.
    If at least one of your parents was at home every day when you returned from school, you took a step forward.
    If your family owned their home, you took a step forward.
    If your family had been renters while you grew up, you took a step backward.
    If your home as a child had been full of books and had a computer, you took a step forward.
    If not? Backward.
    And so on.

    And then the whistle blew, and we had a footrace, which went not necessarily to the swift or to the brave.

    Familial and generational impacts, and the cumulative deficits of heritage, are important influences on what personal initiative and ability can accomplish on the so-called “level playing field”.

    • objv says:

      According to the quiz, I would be given 0 steps; my kids would be given 5 steps.

      If deficits are generational and cumulative, how did my kids manage to move up five steps in one generation?

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Because we do live (or, at least, have lived) in a world where rapid individual progress is possible, at least by some measures. The questions I’ve listed aren’t the full list, since it wasn’t my exercise — and Coates’ article clearly points out how fragile such shifts can be among members of minority communities.

        But advantages and deficits ARE generationally cumulative, in the general sense; I can certainly trace resources, opportunities, values, traditions, and expectations to my grandparents and before.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I was at Plus 3.

  13. flypusher says:

    This was on the NPR discussion thread, a little tale that is an excellent metaphor for how black veterans have been treated (and because it’s Memorial Day):

    “A man visits a farmer and notices that the farmer has a pig that is hobbling around on 2 feet. It is missing 2 feet, it’s tail and has horrendous wounds all over.

    Man to farmer: Wow, what happened that pig?

    Farmer: Well, let me tell you a story, a few years ago, when my son was but a wee one, he fell in a well and would have drowned when this here pig jumped in and saved him.

    Man: Is that how he got those wounds?

    Farmer: No, about 10 years ago I was harversting wheat, and I fell out of the cab and would have been run over by my own combine harverster and killed.

    Man: So is that how the pig got those scars and lost 2 legs.

    Farmer: And then, a few years ago my wife was walking down the path over there and got attacked by a wolf. This pig fought off that wolf single handed and saved my wife.

    Man: So that is how he got injured.

    Farmer: Actually, no. A pig like that you don’t eat all at once….”

    • Bobo Amerigo says:


      Have you read how the Code Switch writers try to curate comments?

      They say they’ve had real conversations because of the curating.

      As for the story you quote, it’s heart breaking and painful in the same way that reading Coates’ story is painful.

      I can imagine no greater betrayal than fighting in WWI and WWII and then coming home to jim crow. I heard Walter Mosely talk about his dad’s time in WWII, and how he felt like he was in no man’s land most of the time.

      US troops didn’t like him and the Germans were shooting at him. Somebody asked him where his unit was and he said, “The Americans? They’re over there.” He didn’t feel part of them.

  14. Tuttabella says:

    “For they are the moments when something new has entered us, something unknown; our feelings grow mute in shy embarrassment, everything in us withdraws, a silence arises, and the new experience, which no one knows, stands in the midst of it all and says nothing.” – Rilke

  15. Bobo Amerigo says:

    “Reparations—by which I mean the full acceptance of our collective biography and its consequences—is the price we must pay to see ourselves squarely.”
    Coates wrote a stunningly beautiful sentence.

    I’ve often thought we should have a national day of mourning in this country.

    On that day we’d cover ourselves in ashes and drag chains behind us as we walk and mourn that slavery was ever visited upon our nation.

    Every church sermon would talk about the psychic damages done to the enslaved and the enslaver.

    At night, we’d build smokey fires and beat drums in the same rhythm as our slow, mournful hearts.

    Those 24 hours would be the opposite of the pseudo rational thinking that creates ‘reasons’ for not acknowledging the damage slavery and jim crow have done to us.

    The human brain can find value in both the rational and the mythological. Over time, perhaps more and more of us would understand slavery’s impact and be willing to try to figure out how to ameliorate its effects.

    • Tuttabella says:

      Bobo, certain forms of mythology like the one you describe run the risk of turning into spectacle. I personally would prefer a day of silence and reflection. But that’s just me.

      I’ve been reading Coates’s excellent article slowly in order to savor it, and my immediate instinct was to say nothing at all about it, because to attempt to say or add anything to it would sully it and do it an injustice.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Some people think and some people act. We need all kinds.

      • tuttabellamia says:


        Very well-put. Thank you.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Like rational people never create spectacle.

        Like Dan Patrick at the national cemetery yesterday wasn’t spectacle. It was, he said, not a time for speeches. Then he gave a speech.

        In defense of ‘spectacle’ I offer art, sometimes defined as human effort to overcome nature.

        Art is powerful. It moves people. It makes people think. It makes some act. To suggest that it doesn’t, that we are only legitimately moved by words on a page is just silly to me.

        Whether it’s opera and cirque du soleil or a story concert, humans are moved by spectacle, good spectacle and bad spectacle.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        “Words on a page” are also art — aka “poetry.”

        I prefer the hushed tones of a few, choice written words to the spectacle of constant written rhetoric.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        And some of the most moving “spectacles” can be silent.

  16. geoff1968 says:

    Reparations, the perfect win-win issue. Both sides know this ain’t never gonna happen. Yet both sides, I’m sure, will take the opportunity to use this “issue” to preen and posture for their respective crowds.

    When Gen. Powell, or the President, takes up this issue I’ll give it some credibility. Until then “Raaaaacisstissitisses!”

  17. Intrigued says:

    After reading this article I am even more infuriated at the stereotypes that depict African Americans as the perpetrators to their own circumstances. I cannot understand how anyone could read such a powerful piece and not realize African Americans have had to climb out of the hole of oppression we put them in. Wealth and opportunity are passed down from generation to generation and we have yet to pay back the wealth we stole from entire generations.

    As a small start, we should offer oppressed African American communities reparations to repay what we have stolen instead of handouts that they are understandably reluctant to accept.

    • kabuzz61 says:

      That’s the point. Who is the ‘we’?

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        The collective “us” of the American public and government. Who else?

      • geoff1968 says:

        I am he as you are he as you are me
        And we are all together

        Read more: Beatles – I Am The Walrus Lyrics | MetroLyrics

      • CaptSternn says:

        Well, Owl, that would include blacks in this country as we;ll, and American Indians, Aand Asians, and Mexicans that have immigrated and their children …

        So again, try to actually answer the question, who is the “we”? Certainly not me. Must be you and Intrigued and Lifer? Why would y’all want to discriminate and oppress people, steal their wealth?

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Sternn, I would say, “Don’t be an ass”.

        But I would hate for you to offend against your nature.

      • texan5142 says:


  18. Manhattan says:

    Funny how we gave reparations for Japanese-Americans interned during World War II in the 1980’s but yet we haven’t really done anything yet for African-Americans? I thought the article goplifer was really interesting in terms of the whole idea for reparations and made me think about it further. We do need to have a discussion on things. I like the third paragraph you wrote Turtles Run.

    I’m also surprised goplifer you haven’t had a poster named superdestroyer here spouting his Pat Buchanan garbage like “non-whites vote Democrat to get money from white people” yet. Just Google the name and you can find superdestroyer in a lot of center-right blogs posting how the Democrats will win every election until the end of time.

    • flypusher says:

      Reparations are a hell of a lot easier to figure out when addressed sooner (decades) rather than later (centuries). It certainly could have been done for black people right after the Civil War, be it 40 acres and a mule, or some other form of financial compensation for all that unpaid labor. Also not suppressing their rights to vote and participate in society would have gone a long way. How much better would things be today if just the second (non financial) part had been done?

      • CaptSternn says:

        40 acres and a mule was actually a good idea imo, just thinking about it but not having really looked into it. There was a lot of unclaimed land in the hands of the federal government at the time, and a lot more to the West.

        On the second point, would it be better or worse? No way to tell, but it would have been right regardless of the outcome. Carrying on with that idea, what if Lincoln had not been assassinated? It is almost certain that Reconstruction would not have happened. Lincoln did not go to war to free the slaves or end slavery any more than the seven states seceded to preserve it, he went to war to preserve the Union, the seven states seceded in mutal defense due to the war that was already in progress.

        After the Confederate States were defeated, he wanted to heal the nation, to bring it back together, not install an oppressive occupation in the defeated territories. So very many people think the South was bitter for having lost the war, but that isn’t the case. The South was so bitter, and democrats dominated for over 100 years afterwards, due to Reconstruction and carpetbaggers, which had nothing to do with rebuilding or physical reconstruction (democrats ruled in Texas from the end of Reconstruction until the end of 2002).

        One of the worst things that happened to the South, and the nation as a whole, was the assassination of Lincoln. Some here today my think the South saw Booth as a hero, but it was not so. He was hated and reviled for what he did, most especially in the South. Maybe it would have been different if he did it during the height of the war, but the war was over.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Sternn, what do you seriously think would have been the result, had the Radical Republicans somehow not had their way such that Reconstruction, even in the failed form that it took, had never even happened? Are you seriously arguing that Southern states would have erected anything much different from the ironclad racist regimes to which they reverted after Reconstruction ended and the Army was withdrawn? Sure, they might have been less bitter, but they would almost certainly have been just as unapologetically racist, repressive, and evil.

        As you’ve had demonstrated to you in clear and unambiguous language, slavery and racism were at the center of the motivation for Confederate treason and secession. There is simply no honest argument to be made against it.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Poor bird, still wishing for subjugation to the British Crown, or the Mexican, or the Spanish, or the French governments.

        Things would be much different and much better if Lincoln had not been assassinated and Reconstruction never happened. Reconstruction is why the KKK was originally formed. Blacks were tossed out into the streets with nothing, and not allowed jobs. They formed mobs and raided homes and old plantations, and the Union soldiers encouraged it, and would not defend white families or property.

        Blacks were starving and had no recourse because of the Union occupation, and whites had no choice but to form militias for self defense. Jim Crow laws, the KKK, discrimination were all the result of Reconstruction and Union policies and tactics. You have only yourself to thank for that. In fact, you are quite proud of it.

        Or maybe you will suggest that you were not alive during that time, so you are not responsible. Those were the policies and legislation of democrats, the party you support, but maybe you will say that was the past and you are not responsible. Or maybe you will claim that the parties reversed, and you were not alive then so you are not responsible. Yet you claim that I am responsible for what democrats have done and still do, even though I am not a democrat, a liberal or a progressive.

        The American Indians are still living on reservations. You are proud of what the U.S. has done and is still doing. But anybody that suggests otherwise is a traitor in your eyes. You support the slaughter, butchering of 50 million people, but you deny that they are even human, just like some did with views towards blacks in the past.

        That is the company you keep.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Sternn, when you become that gloriously unhinged from reality, there’s little to be said but that such a gibbering Know-Nothing as yourself, marinated in historical deceptions and sickly self-delusions, deserves nothing but laughter.

  19. objv says:

    Interesting discussion. While I certainly agree that grievous injustice has been done to African-Americans in the past, I wonder why we don’t focus more on the harm being done today by human traffickers.

    This evil has to stop. In the time we spend arguing about the past, children and teenagers in this country are being bought and sold. If we have learned anything from our history of slavery, it should be that slavery in any form should be eradicated and the perpetuators severely punished.

    • flypusher says:

      It’s revolting. Like the wrongs of the past, the wrongs of the present need education for remedy:

    • GG says:

      Obj, my sister-in-law is heavily involved with a group from her church who monitor the strip center “spas”, most of which are brothels with underaged girls who are being held there. Her group works with the police and the FBI. Unfortunately, most of the customers are white, middle class men who often stop by in the morning before work or on the way home to the wife and kiddies. As long as there are men who will pay to have sex with children being held under guard they will flourish.

      Frankly, I think prostitution, as well as marijuana, should be decriminalized.

      • flypusher says:

        GG, I never cease to be astonished at the metal disconnect those men have. You have children of your own, but you’re paying to have sex with someone else’s child, and you’re oblivious to or uncaring of the pain you’re causing this child???? I don’t think legalized prostitution is going to help with this problem.

        What I think those johns deserve wouldn’t pass Constitutional muster.

      • GG says:

        I think about the disconnect too. I saw a movie called Gardens of the Night about a girl kidnapped as a child by a child porn ring. One scene really stuck with me. A man comes into a hotel rooms, puts his wallet down, it flips open and you can the pictures of his kids in it, then he rapes her. She’s under 10 when it happens.

      • objv says:

        GG, I had a friend at the church I attended in Houston who was also involved with trying to help girls caught up by adult predators who sold them for sex. She told me the girls where often so brainwashed by their pimps that captivity became more mental as time went by.

        To me the best way to heal is to take action against a wrong. Stamping out all forms of slavery here in this country and taking a stand in situations abroad – like the one involving the kidnapped Nigerian girls – is a positive way to change our way of thinking from one of recrimination to healing and growth.

      • objv says:

        flypusher, I agree completely.

  20. Tuttabella says:

    Just testing my new device.

  21. fiftyohm says:

    for what it’s worth, here’s my take. I read the reparations article (twice), the NR rebuttal, and HR 40.

    First, the article was indeed well-written, and I learned some stuff. (Much of it reinforced my back-of-the-brainpan, long-simmering notion that Chicago was, and perhaps still is, a far more racist place than Houston. But that’s another topic…)

    I could recite the usual disclaimers about how awful slavery and racism in America was and remains, ad nauseum. I get it. You all do too.

    But the article was supposed to be about *reparations*. Apparently. any discussion of the specifics must not be accompanied by any discussion of slavery, (the fact the article discussed it in substantial detail notwithstanding), or mechanics (logistics), (curiously absent from the article0, lest we show the world our inability to read.

    The article advocated HR 40. Well, best I can tell, HR 40 advocates $8,000,000 for a study. This study is to compensate its resident scholars as GS18 federal employees. Well, after a bit of research, I couldn’t even find the salary for a GS18. (The scale ends at 15). A GS15 in Houston would earn about $160K per year.

    So, are we to suppose that all of this ‘healing’ will spring from such a study? Are we to suppose that the topic has not been studied enough? Fact is that Mr. Coates has done a remarkable job – perhaps better than any I’ve read. More of what this guy writes is welcome. $8,000,000 worth of crap from another house committee is not. Without specifics of what, to whom, when, and how, and how much. there is really no discussion – just a bunch of people sitting around congratulating themselves for ‘doing the right thing’.

    And though this post may seem a bit harsh, It’s just hows I sees it. More importantly, I would like to wish you all a very happy and safe Memorial Day.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      “This study is to compensate its resident scholars as GS18 federal employees. Well, after a bit of research, I couldn’t even find the salary for a GS18. (The scale ends at 15).”

      Mr. Conyers apparently doesn’t do the proper annual editing to his proposal to keep up with current law, and perhaps hasn’t for some time.

      “At one time, there were also three GS ‘supergrades’ (GS-16, GS-17 and GS-18); these were eliminated under the provisions of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 and replaced by the Senior Executive Service and the more recent Senior Level (non-supervisory) pay scale.”

    • flypusher says:

      “So, are we to suppose that all of this ‘healing’ will spring from such a study? Are we to suppose that the topic has not been studied enough?”

      Fair questions. But given that the discriminatory lending practices continued to happen, I have to wonder if we are studying it enough (if you buy into the premise that the main goal of learning history is to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past). So why are we still getting cracks about “ghetto loans” and “mud people” in the supposedly enlightened we’re-so-past-all-that-discrimination-nonsense 21st Century? It doesn’t have to happen through an act of Congress here, but we as a nation have some really big blind spots when it comes to our history that need addressing. Would we have healing from more study? I couldn’t make any guarantees, but all the denial (“We are way past it”) isn’t improving anything.

      • fiftyohm says:

        The only prey from the lending predatory lending practices of the recent past were the shareholders of the banks and the global economy – likely brought to its knees largely by the sub-prime debacle. But-

        Pie-in-the-sky, feel-good “studies” have never, in the history of mankind, produced anything more than a whiff of crap. They don’t cover ‘blind spots’, they don’t ‘promote healing’. And they don’t fix ‘denial’. Real denial is suggesting that throwing money at some kind of stupid “study” of what is an historical/cultural issue, is a solution to anything.

      • Turtles Run says:

        50 – discrimination still occurs in the mortgage and lending industry. BoA, Wells Fargo, and Ally bank have just recently paid fines for discrimination in lending. This is hardly a thing of the past.

      • flypusher says:

        Methinks the people conned into skeevy loans when they were qualified for better terms would have a difference of opinion about being left off your preyed upon list.

        As for “feel good”, oh no. This would be the exact opposite. Catharsis isn’t intended to be pleasurable.

  22. flypusher says:

    “John Conyers’s HR 40 is the vehicle for that hearing. No one can know what would come out of such a debate. Perhaps no number can fully capture the multi-century plunder of black people in America. Perhaps the number is so large that it can’t be imagined, let alone calculated and dispensed. But I believe that wrestling publicly with these questions matters as much as—if not more than—the specific answers that might be produced. An America that asks what it owes its most vulnerable citizens is improved and humane. An America that looks away is ignoring not just the sins of the past but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future. More important than any single check cut to any African American, the payment of reparations would represent America’s maturation out of the childhood myth of its innocence into a wisdom worthy of its founders.”

    I’m all for having the debate, as brutally painful and delusion-shattering as it’s bound to be. I’m curious as to how you would do the calculations, and what result you would get. As a practical matter, I can’t see any actual repatriations happening, not with all the time that has passed, and the many people newly arrived here who don’t have roots in those inequities, and the knee-jerk defensiveness just mentioning the subject triggers. The best realistic outcome from this debate IMO would getting the sunlight on the festering crap that people want to sweep under the rug. I really can’t see any practical way to pay someone for the damages caused by the legacy of slavery/ discrimination. I can see a possibility of exposing and rooting out bad policies going on now.

    • kabuzz61 says:

      I agree Fly. It is impossible to measure in any accurate way AND it won’t heal anything.

      • CaptSternn says:

        It isn’t meant to heal or repair or repay or even unite, Kabuzz. It is all about keeping the division going, making it stronger and wider.

      • texan5142 says:

        Says the man who flys the flag of traitors. Still beating your spouse Sternn? You have some nerve talking about keeping the division as you promote the right of business to discriminate. Once a tool, always a tool….or is it fool? Does not matter, both words work .

      • CaptSternn says:

        “Says the man who flys the flag of traitors.”

        That applies to more than one flag I fly. It applies to the U.S. Flag, the Texas Flag and the Confederate Flag. Which flag do you fly that is not of “traitors”? The British Flag, Mexican Flag, the Spain Flag or the France Flag? I would guess it would be the Flag of France, but then again that would be a flag of traitors that overthrew their monarchy.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Treason can only be defined from the point of view of an established nation. Obviously the American Revolution was treason to the British, but since we aren’t British we don’t consider it to be so. Attempting to make some universal claim about traitors is to make a wimpy semantic argument and blur the word’s meaning beyond all sense or use.

        However, if you are actually an American, you must (if you have any sense of logic and decency) consider the Confederate flag to be an emblem of traitors.

        Of course, that last paragraph hardly describes Sternn.

      • CaptSternn says:

        I am Texan first, U.S. Citizen second. I see the Confederacy as a failed attempt at independence Nothing more, nothing less. And I am not ashamed of my hertiage even though some parts of it are shameful, like our treatment to my own people, the American Indians.

        The U.S. Flag stood for slavery for 89 years, Owl. Are you proud or ashamed of the U.S. Flag and the traitors, slavery, discrimination and even the Tuskegee experiment? How about the interment of the Japanese? Are you so proud of the Union for unleashing the military against civilians?

        Just how deep does your hatred and hypocrisy run?

      • GG says:

        “Texan first”. Hmmm……..odd. As I’ve said before I am citizen of the world first, American second and Texan by accident of birth and that comes in dead last.

    • flypusher says:

      And you think the “nothing to see here, everybody move along” attitude is the solution? If you read the article, you should have noted that it started with the story of someone who did suffer injustice and is alive right at this very moment.

      I don’t agree with the idea of actual cash reparations, because there is no fair and accurate way to do it. I do agree with doing it as a thought exercise, with the goal of educating people and rooting out the legacies that persist and continue to harm people.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        I’m reminded of South Africa’s “Truth and Reconciliation Commission”.

        Getting the dirty laundry out to air in public is sometimes important to moving on.

      • CaptSternn says:

        There are a whole lot of people alive today that have suffered injustices, and not just black people. Many have suffered and continue to suffer injustices based on race, and not just black people but people of all races and ethnic backgrounds.

        Want to discuss those? How about the Chinese immagrants that were basically forced into slave labor to build the railroads? The American Indians that were slaughtered and enslaved? How about white people that suffer injustices due to Affirmative Action, set-asides and other government backed legislation and programs? How about the injustices done in Muslim nations today? Places like Egypt where Obama enabled such injustices towards women and Christians?

        No, Fly, all this is about is to point a finger and say white men are evil and must pay. White men must pay because they are superior and people that are not white men cannot make their own way without the help of white men. This whole thing is promoting white supremacy, and that is something I cannot and will not support.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Such whining, Sternn. You’re falling so solidly into the talking points that Chris described for those who haven’t read Coates’ article that I’m put into serious doubt whether you actually read it or, more importantly, understood it.

        Chinese immigrants had a raw deal, to be sure — but they weren’t systematically oppressed in the ways and for the duration that slaves and free Blacks were, and your equivalence shows a grotesque ignorance of history. The treatment of the American Indians should be an ongoing source of shame for our nation — but we have tried to publicly examine those injustices and offer some (though insufficient) benefits to make up for past sins, in exactly the way that Coates is suggesting we evaluate for past treatment of African-Americans. (Note: an inner-city slum is not the same as a reservation!)

        Muslim nations are not the United States, in case you needed to be told. One can find plenty of condemnation of many practices there — but no rational person would claim that the United States should take upon itself the power to capriciously and directly change social policy in other countries.

        As for your witless yammering about “white people that suffer injustices due to Affirmative Action, set-asides and other government backed legislation and programs”, it’s merely further proof of your distorted worldview and deeply Republican sense of greed and entitlement.

        White men aren’t evil, by default or necessity. But SOME White men certainly have been, and are, evil, and the effects of their attitudes and actions stay with us today.

        White men shouldn’t pay because of being “superior”. But they should accept that the era of white male privilege is drawing to a close, and other people also deserve the same opportunities which have, for generations, been largely reserved for a certain race and gender.

      • flypusher says:

        Yes indeed, let’s discuss the injustices suffered by the Chinese immigrants who labored on the railroads, and the farmworkers from south of the border who were mistreated too. Women also, they have a very long history of being denied human rights. Let’s air and disinfect all the dirty laundry. Let’s go with the premise that the Founders started with a great, brilliant, groundbreaking idea (all humans equal are under the law, all human have basic rights) and acknowledge that we still haven’t made it there yet, and we have to deal with and conquer the inner demons (our tribal instincts, are tendency to deny things we find unpleasant) of human nature if we are going to reach that worthy goal.

      • flypusher says:

        Also, blaming Obama for Egypt’s problems is asinine. They voted badly, and elections have consequences.

      • CaptSternn says:

        I am entited to what I earn, and I am greedy for wanting what I am entitled. So many, especially on the left, do not understand the differences between rights, entitlements and privileges.

        Back to the point, human beings have been committing attrocities against other human beings since human beings evolved into human beings.

        It is something Owl does every time he asks, “What person” when discussing abortion. No different that people of the past denying the very humanity and basic human rights to blacks because it was their opinion that blacks were not actually human.

      • flypusher says:

        ‘I’m reminded of South Africa’s “Truth and Reconciliation Commission”.’

        That’s Mandela’s greatest legacy IMO. A lesser man (which sadly would have been most people) would have been all about retribution. South Africa still has problems, but it’s scary to think about what could have been.

        I’d like to have one of our own. Do the study. Bring in the sunlight.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      Thank you, Sternn, for acknowledging your lack of logic and decency.

      Sure, I’m ashamed of slavery, discrimination, and the United States’ manifold past sins. Anyone who knows about them should be.

      But I’m also proud that my nation (though, apparently, not yours) has struggled to improve, to set aside errors and widen the scope of justice, imperfect as our efforts may always be. There’s no conflict between being ashamed of our faults but also proud of our triumphs.

      The United States ended slavery. Did the Confederacy do so? Did the Confederacy, given the rancid language present in every single one of the secession documents for those traitorous states, show any inclination of wanting to do so? Well, no.

      And that’s why the Confederate flag deserves only shame, and is fit only for traitors.

      • CaptSternn says:

        The Confederacy never had the chance, Owl. But some of the states that fought with the Confederacy did vote to ratify the 13th. They voted against the 14th, but not due to the first paragraph.

        Your ignorance of history is either astounding, or it is deliberate ignorance.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Actually, *every* state that was part of the Union in 1865 has ratified the Thirteenth Amendment. Of course, it took Mississippi until 1995 to bring up the rear (and 2013 to actually certify it). They’re good at taking that position, in all kinds of national rankings.

        The Confederacy took a clear and unmistakable pro-slavery stance as a primary justification for their secession from the Union.

        And they were roundly and justifiably spanked for it. They didn’t have the chance because we crushed them. As traitors deserve.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        That’s the thing I most admire about the United States: we keep trying.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Maybe the national motto deserves to be “Semper temptandum est” at least as much as “E pluribus unum” (and certainly far more than the self-satisfied “In God we trust”).

  23. texan5142 says:

    I am only part way thru the article… get more coffee …….good read.

  24. CaptSternn says:

    Long-winded article promoting white supremacy and professing victimhood for blacks while ignoring a whole lot of reality of the past.

    Yes, slavery and discrimination through legislation was wrong and even ugly. Jury nulification was wrongly used. Most of it was caused by Reconstruction, not the War of Northern Aggression, the war of conquest waged by the white supremacist Abraham Lincoln.

    There is so much to be said in response to the article that I could probably write a comment longer than the article itself. But there is one sentence that stands out, “A crime that implicates the entire American people deserves its hearing in the legislative body that represents them.”

    This is not, or should not be, aimed specifically at white males of the past, present or future, but at all, if the author is to be consistent. Not only white males owned and traded in slaves, but free black males also participated. And who kidnapped and sold blacks into slavery from Africa, other blacks in Africa. That slave trade is far older than These United States, conducted by Arabs.

    The call for reparations to blacks is nothing more than another call for handouts. We already have plenty of those, pushed by Progressives and they are doing far more harm to the black communities than helping. As I have said many times over, what the federal government tries to do FOR the people, it ends up doing TO the people.

    These ideas of reparations are already put into practice, welfare, food stamps and promoting single parent homes through Section 8 Housing, generational welfare handed down from parent to child, have done more to promote those things than to help people get out of those situations. Add prohibition to the mix and you get the gang mentality, as the author stated, kids that never leave their block because that is territory they own and will kill for, a corner to deal drugs.

    The focus of the article is on blacks, but what about the near complete genocide of my blood ancestors, the American Indians? The biological warfare that wiped out near 95%, as compared to King’s book, “The Stand”? Then the slaughter of women and children, the death marches, the reservations? The slavery of whites in corporate owned towns? The fact that my adoptive family was forced into share-cropping and perpetual debt, or slavery as described by the author?

    There was the part of only holding those that actually committed the crimes to be held responsible as being wrong. Well, all blacks should be held responsible for the race riots in LA after the King ruling? Don’t jump so fast, because there was a couple executing armed robberies in my area that were finally caught. The excuse? “We have to do these things because that is what black people do, and we are black.” The black officers and detectives were not amused, to say the least.

    Redlining on housing? That was “solved” during the Clinton adminstration years. Redlining was stopped, the housing market boomed, and then came the crash. So many leftists here have denied that it was because blacks were given home loans and mortgages, but the author of the article puts it directly on them due to “predatory banks”, banks that were intimidated to make those loans and deregulated in order to cover them. Any leftist or progressive that claims it was not due to making loans and mortgages to blacks will have to denounce the article and the opinion.

    Yes, I took the time and effort to read the entire article. Even the part about waving the Confederate Flag and claiming patriotism. I have no more shame in the Texas Flag or the Confederate Flag than I have for the U.S. Flag, even though the U.S. Flag stood for slavery for 85 years longer than the Confederate Flag and some 30 years longer than the Texas Flag. Slavery and discrimination are wrong, and should be illegal in legislation and on public property. Private property, well, that is one’s private business. Even denying service to people with no shoes, no shirt or sagging pants.

    Long enough, doubt people will be any more willing to read my entire comment than they would be to read the entire article you linked, which is far longer than my comment. I expect the usual responses.

    • kabuzz61 says:

      I read your entire comment Captain. Very well presented, as usual.

      History, whether US or Western Civilization have many era’s people wish they didn’t have in their past. There was the vicious exploitation of the Irish and Italians in the NE, which gave rise to the Mafia. Only the Mafia would protect Italians and the Irish mob protected Irish folk. This went on for decades.

      If blacks, that were descended from slaves harbor ill feeling and anger, there isn’t any amount of money that could make that person feel good. It is all on the person. They need to agree that wrongs were done, it hurt many people, but not all people committed the wrongs and not all people were wronged. Forgive. Get on with your life.

      • texan5142 says:

        Funny that the cat talks about forgiveness and to let things go, but can not do the same for what happened to him 40 years ago. You have no credibility on the subject my good man.

        Stern, as with your climate change denial, your view of history is but of a fringe few of the populace in this country.

        On a side note, Thank You! for your service to the country.

      • CaptSternn says:

        On the side note, you are most welcome. I am proud to have served, though I did not join with noble intentions, I learned while serving. I am glad I did not see actual combat, but as a combat veteran told me, it doesn’t matter because I was there and it could have happened at any time.

        Now, back to the regularly scheduled programming, as it was pointed out a couple of blog entries ago, I do not deny that the climate changes. I do not buy into the idea that it changes because of human beings.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        So, Sternn, are you denying that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, or that human beings have dumped large quantities of that gas into the atmosphere from carbon deposits (oil and gas) sequestered over previous eons? Or are you just denying everything in general, because you’d rather not have to worry your little head contemplating the prospect?

      • CaptSternn says:

        CO2 is as minor greenhouse gas, and human beings contribute very little compared to nature. Everytime you exhale, you are contributing. But that is contributing to plants that take it in and expel oxygen. The biomass of termites alone is ten times that of human beings. Then take into account ants, spiders, grasshoppers, fish, plankton, every blade of grass, every tree … just go back to HT’s example of trying to “influence” sea levels by urinating in the ocean. That really summed up the whole argument best, evebn though he was trying to do the opposite.

        Now how about trying to weasel you way out of the topic by changing it to something you already got smashed on?

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Sternn, perhaps you need to define “minor”, so we know you understand the topic and aren’t just witlessly yammering what you’ve heard or read on right-wing media.

        CO2 levels have risen due to human activity from less than 320 ppm in 1960 to over 400 ppm in the present day. To help you with the basic math, that’s a change of 80/320, or a quarter, 25%. I understand you’re a generally innumerate numbnut, but how is that “very little”?

        It’s true that human beings exhale CO2. Congratulations: you’ve mastered some of the elementary science curriculum! But human industrial emissions dwarf human exhalations. If you drive your car for ten miles, you’ve generated about as much CO2 as you produce in an entire day. And, for similar reasons, all your irrelevant hand-waving about biomass is also just so much propagandistic distraction and denial.

        It is you who are regularly “smashed” on this forum. You’re just too much of a hapless idiot to realize it.

      • flypusher says:

        “Everytime you exhale, you are contributing. But that is contributing to plants that take it in and expel oxygen. The biomass of termites alone is ten times that of human beings. Then take into account ants, spiders, grasshoppers, fish, plankton, every blade of grass, every tree …”

        And in additional to all that, we’re taking vast amounts carbon that has been sequestered out of the cycle for millions of years and adding it back in. But no that can’t do anything.

        Who’s taking this seriously? the Pentagon. Major insurance companies. Even energy companies (Shell’s doing some serious R&D on carbon capture). Scientists who actually study climate and atmosphere. Who’s not? The usual right wing anti-intellect crowd.

      • CaptSternn says:

        More scientists that study the climate and atmosphere disagree with AGW than those that agree with it. I listen to those scientists because they tend to use real numbers, stick with facts and understand the reality.

        You know, I learned a long time ago that using Mars to slingshot our satellites to other planets actually affects the orbit of Mars. But it is like with the global climate, so little as to not be noticed.

      • flypusher says:

        “More scientists that study the climate and atmosphere disagree with AGW than those that agree with it. ”

        You keep saying that, but can’t prove it. But given that you don’t have clue one about science, or how it is done, the only intelligent response is to laugh.

      • flypusher says:

        If people peeing in the ocean actually added water that had been locked out of the natural cycles for millions of years, then your misuse of Homer’s satire would have validity. But it doesn’t and you just continue to look ignorant.

    • Turtles Run says:

      Your ignorance speak for itself and does not warrant a reply.

      • texan5142 says:

        Studying and understanding are two different things. It is possible to study something for 20 years and not comprehend the meaning. Just look at the Bible, it has been studied for hundreds of years and yet millions of people have different understanding of the meanings of the book.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      Sternn, your history, as usual, is most vilely twisted, to protect your own preconceptions and bolster your own bigotries.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      Had you read the article, with any actual understanding, you would have seen that “redlining” was officially ended with the Fair Housing Act in 1968, and not by the Clinton administration some quarter century later.

      As to the Confederate Flag, the state documents of secession clearly call out slavery as a founding principle and a primary motivation. The 3/5 Compromise may be vile, but the childishly fearful Confederate insistence on “taking their ball and going home”, purely to ensure slavery as an eternal institution, renders those people and their government far more clearly evil. That you would throw in with them despite the facts speaks volumes, too.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Bravo Owl.

        I would add that if this country would at the very least admit its racist past and the effects that are still felt today it would go a long way towards addressing tis issue. We cannot even get there yet without it being exploited into gotcha politics.

      • CaptSternn says:

        The Articles of Secession clearly state that the violations of the constitution, federl laws and court rulings, as well as the War between the States that was already in progress were the reasons seven states left the Union. Slavery was legal in every state and territory at the time, and not all “slave states” left the Union. Some stayed and fought with the Union. That blows your entire cnspiracy theory out of the water.

        Slavery was indeed an evil and vile institution, one that lasted for 89 years under the Stars and Stripes. But you don’t seem to have any shame of your part in that, or of the Stars and Stripes.

        Human beings have committed atrocities against other human beings since there have been human beings on this planet. So all human beings are responsible. Even Turtles, as a Mormon, is now responsible for the actions of Bundy. Turtles, you owe me reparations for the actions of Cliven Bundy. That is current, so we won;t get into what the Mormon Church has done in the past.

        Who knws where such calls for such things could lead? Maybe somebody would suggest something like, “From each according his ability, to each according his need.” Maybe somebody else would suggest that we give a basic income to everybody, free money, free housing, free clothes, free food, free health care, free electricity … nobody ever has to work again. But then who would provide such things?

        Somebody then might suggest people be forced to buy things, things like health insurance that provides free contraceptives and abortions. Nah, that’s just crazy talk, right? Nobody would ever suggest such things, much less make them into law and be upheld by the courts. Right?

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Sternn, your dogged ignorance is quite amazing.

        There’s a well-documented case against the myths you constantly spew. But, obviously, you know better, because you cannot help but be right, according to your own cowardly worldview.

        From Texas’ own declaration, third paragraph, before any mention of any other issues:

        “[Texas] was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery – the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits – a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. Her institutions and geographical position established the strongest ties between her and other slaveholding States of the confederacy….”

        Fourth paragraph, immediately thereafter:

        “The controlling majority of the Federal Government, under various pretences and disguises, has so administered the same as to exclude the citizens of the Southern States, unless under odious and unconstitutional restrictions, from all the immense territory owned in common by all the States on the Pacific Ocean, for the avowed purpose of acquiring sufficient power in the common government to use it as a means of destroying the institutions of Texas and her sister slaveholding States.”

        Then we get a few fig leafs about Indian attacks and whatnot, before returning to the central point:

        “In all the non-slave-holding States, in violation of that good faith and comity which should exist between entirely distinct nations, the people have formed themselves into a great sectional party, now strong enough in numbers to control the affairs of each of those States, based upon an unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of equality of all men, irrespective of race or color – a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of Divine Law. They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy, the recognition of political equality between the white and negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States.”

        And let’s not forget:

        “We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.

        “That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding states.”

        In other words, Sternn, as usual, you are a putrid and pusillanimous liar.

      • CaptSternn says:

        I see you are tryng to do the cherrypicking again, Owl. History just doesn’t agree with you. But the indoctrination does run strong in you.

      • Turtles Run says:

        cappy – if your are using history as it exists in the tea tard zone you are correct. Unfortunately, Owl is using history as based in this reality. Just because you consider yourself an authority over scientist, the courts, the founding fathers,economists, and historians does not make it so.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Turtles, I have spent almost 20 years studying the constitution and history of my own accord, simply because I have questions and most often people cannot come up with actual answers.

        You ever wonder what it is like, as a child, growing up and being taught in grade school that you are evil, vile, barbaric and generally a bad person because you are of Southern Heritage, and believing it because you trust adults and teachers? Only later to question it because you do not believe you are those things, and to finally learn it was mostly lies written by the victors?

        I do say that the reason the South lost is because the South was on the wrong side of slavery, we were not on God’s side. I have already said that slavery was an evil and ugly institution, but it was not invented in the 1600s by white people, and blacks were not the only ones subjected to slavery, and whites were not the only ones to own people as slaves.

        The institution of slavery is almost as vile and evil as the institution of abortion on demand. Go read the first link from Owl, they were making the same arguments against blacks that Owl makes against the unborn.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Where’s the cherry-picking, Sternn? I clearly pointed out the location and significance of my quotes. You’re just whining because it’s all you can do when you don’t have any actual facts.

        Any given American from the South is NOT “evil, vile, barbaric, and generally a bad person” simply by virtue of the latitude and longitude at which she was born. There’s some ugly history to the region (as there is to all parts of the world, in various degrees), and that history colors (so to speak) our current situation. But the point of reparations, or of the kind of self-examination Coates advocates, is not so much to fix blame as to recognize past sins and evaluate how to rectify them.

        Meanwhile, anyone who seriously makes an equivalence between an adult African-American and a first-trimester fetus is obviously among the worst sorts of racists imaginable.

      • Intrigued says:

        I was wondering how long it would take before Stern started whining about all the triumphs he had to face growing up as a white southern male. Again demonstrating his failure to comprehend injustice that he has and will never have to experience. As the article stated “Negro Poverty is not White Poverty”. The oppression of African Americans throughout the years should not be overshadowed and dismissed by simply attributing it to injustice in general.

        Reparations in the form of study as a way to understand and teach the lessons of injustice and the effects on African American communities is very little to ask. As for you Stern, I am sure the KKK will provide you with the support you need to deal with the injustices you have and will continue to face.

      • CaptSternn says:

        I think the KKK would be a better fit for you and the others here that believe in white supremacy, Intrigued. They follow the idea of white supremacy that democrats in general follow.

        And with that I am done for this evening.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        You’ve been done for a long time, Sternn, in the sense of fixed and static.

        So far as I can tell, you have become an ideological fossil.

      • objv says:

        Intrigued: Frankly, I’m disappointed that you would insult Cap by trying to connect him to the KKK. He has a point of view that is different from yours, but in no way is he trying to bring harm to African-Americans. On the contrary, he has a point. Treating people equally without condescension should be our ultimate goal.

        Cap has mentioned that he is part Native American. The injustices done to them are every bit as grievous as those done to blacks.

      • Intrigued says:

        Obv, I know you will choose to disregard the many racist statements Stern continues to make. Is this because you agree with him or do you simply chose to turn a blind eye?

      • objv says:

        What I know is that I have no right to judge, Cap. He could also legitimately claim that as a Native American, he should receive reparations for what his ancestors suffered. He choses not to.

        I’m a white woman, and I’m taking a guess that you are, too. Wouldn’t it be racist of us to claim that Cap should think about race and reparations in a certain politically correct way?

      • Intrigued says:

        Obv, Stern choses to be an upfront transparent racist. I have tried many times to see him in a different light but time in time again he assures me he is nothing more than a white supremest who believes he has the constitutional right to discriminate and oppress anyone who stands in his way. I have accepted this as his choice but I refuse justify his choice as an acceptable behavior.

      • GG says:

        “You ever wonder what it is like, as a child, growing up and being taught in grade school that you are evil, vile, barbaric and generally a bad person because you are of Southern Heritage, and believing it because you trust adults and teachers?”

        What the hell kind of school did you go to? I’m Southern and never heard crap like that. Makes me wonder what kind of bizarre childhood you must have had.

      • objv says:

        Intrigued: Where’s our Tuttabella translation guide? She would be the best one to explain Cap’s posts. However, to be racist one has to believe in the superiority of one race over another. Wouldn’t Cap be the opposite of racist since he thinks all should be treated equally?

        GG: One of my kids has come home from school spouting that line. You, like me, attended school further back in time than either one of us would want to admit. 🙂

      • Tuttabella says:

        Cap isn’t racist, nor is he playing the victim, either. He has an idealistic, theoretical obsession with perfect symmetry and consistency.

        Not the shrill, nagging demand for consistency that Bubba has (had?), but a stubborn, matter-of-fact dimissing of anything not perfectly symmetrical.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Sorry. I should have said DISMISSAL, not “dismissing.”

        Anyway, even though Cap is not racist, his words may very well appeal to white supremacists such as the KKK, and that’s just something he will have to deal with.
        Appearances do matter. Not that he cares. It’s obvious I care more than he does.

        Cap can take care of himself. I don’t have the time or energy to follow up his every comment with an explanation or paraphrasing. My dream is to be a simultaneous and/or consecutive interpreter/translator, but not like this.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        “He has an idealistic, theoretical obsession with perfect symmetry and consistency.”

        But the real worlds of human history, relations, development, and behavior lack such symmetry and consistency, making any such ideals or such theories into idle, impractical toys for those with the logical brains of idiots and the fantasy-driven mental life of children.

        Like Sternn.

      • objv says:

        Thanks, Tutta! (And, sorry, cap, for talking about you behind your back.) Sternn brings up good points, and at the risk of being taken for a racist, I agree with many (but not all) of them.

        It is the liberal left that tries to shove minorities into tidy, neat little categories. Dissention, to their worldview makes one racist to them. When cap was told to join with the KKK, I felt a line was crossed. The KKK is an organization which believes in causing overt harm to non-whites as well as white supremacy. I have never heard cap advocate anything of the kind.

        Owl, over the top, hysterical accusations like that make for the “fantasy-driven mental life of children” more than statements from cap advocating freedom of speech and treating people equally.

      • Intrigued says:

        Tutt, I think Stern makes it perfectly clear on his views of racism and injustices against African Americans. No amount of interpretation is going to convince me that his words are not racist in nature protected by a racist document. His arguments to appeal clauses and amendments of the constitution that prohibit discriminatory practices demonstrate his desire to regress back to a time where whites ruled and capitalism soared through means of oppression. He is entitled to his opinion.

        On another note. I am remembering my Grandfather today who lost a leg in WWII along with your Father and all the other brave soldiers who fought for our Country.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        “over the top, hysterical accusations”? I’m not sure you actually appreciate the meanings of those words.

        Or perhaps, like Sternn, you have such an idiosyncratic view that it bears little resemblance to reality.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Better a naive idealist than a racist. Owl, at least, can tell the difference, while others just don’t get it.

        Thanks for your kind words about my dad, Intrigued. My parents had me late in life, and my dad was old enough to be my grandfather.

        OV, there’s a pretty blonde lady who works down the hall from us who l like to imagine is you, but she is not in New Mexico. 🙂

      • Intrigued says:

        “It is the liberal left that tries to shove minorities into tidy, neat little categories”

        Obv, funny how you had to make a tidy neat little category of liberal lefts in order to make your claim. You have attempted to distract from the claims of this article by overshadowing with other acts of injustice. You want to dismiss the facts and claim that those who choose to acknowledge the extent of the damage that was done are the real problem. You are entitled to your opinion but I am entitled to my opinion that your opinion makes no sense;)

      • Intrigued says:

        Tutt I used to be a “naive idealist” believing If we chose not to see race, then racism and oppression would cease to exist. One course in cultural anthropology was enough to educate me otherwise. A naive idealist might believe the past is the past but in the present we are all equal so the past is irrelevant. A naive idealist may not realize “the aim of a constitutional democracy is to safeguard the rights of the minority and avoid the tyranny of the majority.” Cornel West

        A naive idealist would not spend time researching for the sole purpose of proving their naive idealism.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Then such a person is no longer naïve, and really no longer an idealist, but instead an ideologue.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        More like: An ideologue bent on proving a naive ideology, with a streak of stubbornness, but no malice.

      • CaptSternn says:

        “A naive idealist would not spend time researching for the sole purpose of proving their naive idealism.”

        I didn’t and I don’t. For most of my life I felt that something was not right. But it is law and therefore the government must have those powers to make things as such, and there must be a reason. I wanted to know the answer, to know where the government got the power, why and if maybe it could be changed. I had no idea what I was getting into or what I would find and learn.

        So I sat down and read the U.S. Constitution from preamble to the last amendment, and I marveled at what a system we had, the freedom we had as a people, as a nation, then I looked up and wondered what happened to that. And so began my journey, not to “interpret” things the way I wanted them to be, but to learn how things are supposed to be and the intent behind our system.

        Just so happens that I really agree with the founding ideas of this nation, and even the State of Texas. There were problems that reflected the times and needed to be addressed, and the constitutions have been amended to do so. The real problems started back in the 1930s when the democrats decided they didn;t need amendments to change the powers and responsibilities of government, they would just do it and the people can go to hell.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Sternn, your poverty of education and abundance of insipid self-justification continue to astound. I’ve given my full reply above.

      • objv says:

        Intrigued wrote: You have attempted to distract from the claims of this article by overshadowing with other acts of injustice. You want to dismiss the facts and claim that those who choose to acknowledge the extent of the damage that was done are the real problem.


        Unbelievable. Are you saying that current day slavery is less important than slavery in the 1800s? That it shouldn’t be discussed? That we can’t learn from the horrors of the past because that would be distracting to the dialog here?

        Slavery – past and present – is pure evil. I never claimed that there wasn’t damage done to African-Americans (and some Native Americans) who endured slavery. I acknowledge that there are lasting effects from the legacy of slavery and segregation. Slavery has been a blight on an otherwise great heritage.

        My problem with your post to Cap was that you wanted to lump him in with the KKK. Sorry, that is just vile. The KKK believes in white superiority and intentionally has tried to harm and kill African-Americans. Sorry, but I don’t think Cap or anyone here should be put in that category.

      • objv says:

        Tuttabella, dear friend, unfortunately, I am not the woman down the hall at work – although I’ll admit to being pretty and blond – and safely ensconced in New Mexico. You never know … the pretty, blond might be GG!

        I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all the veterans and their family members (Tutt and Intrigued) for their service to our country. Since my family’s history in this country is fairly recent, I take some comfort in the fact that my husband’s family history of military service reaches back to the Revolutionary War and Civil War (Northern side). While discussing politics, we sometimes lose sight of what a wonderful country we have. There is utmost gratitude in my heart for the men and women who have fought for our liberty.

      • Intrigued says:

        Obv, you obviously did not read the article or you would have known the author dedicated very little to the period of slavery. The entire article was about the constant oppression that this particular African American had to face throughout the years, something that you obviously could care less to discuss.

      • objv says:

        Intrigued: Read through my posts again. I said nothing against the article or the point the author was trying to make. Yes, slavery AND all the discrimination African-Americans have had to face are a blot on our nations history. By bringing up modern day slavery in another section of this blog, I was taking away nothing from what the author was saying. The fact that slavery still exists is proof that we need to do more as a country since so many of the teenagers and girls caught up in the sex trade are members of a minority.

        Again and again, (until I turn blue, apparently) my replies to you have been about your comment where you told Cap he belongs with the KKK. It was completely inappropriate considering what the KKK has done to African-Americans. If you want to have a constructive conversation on race, why throw out something like that?

        I realize that cap can take care of himself, but when I read your post, I was in shock that you would say something so nasty.

      • Intrigued says:

        Obv, read my initial comment again if you are so disturbed by it. I never said he belonged with the KKK or that his intent was malicious. Stern repeatedly claims that he has been unfairly treated and discriminated for being white so I said he could find support from the KKK. Who else would offer support for white males whining about being discriminated against?

  25. Owl of Bellaire says:

    Chris, thanks for the link to such a fantastic article. I learned some history of which I’d been totally unaware.

    The article also called to mind part of what’s causing some of our current industrial and diplomatic woes: the relentless quest by predatory capitalism to find some bunch of poor schmucks to squeeze for expansive profit.

    The quote about Chicago lenders is apropos: “It was like people who like to go out and shoot lions in Africa. It was the same thrill.” How often have we seen the same kind of glee in corporate kleptocrats more intent on a company’s stock price, and the comfort of its managers, than on the workers who generate the profits and the company’s actual, physical success?

    The article talks about the roots of cruelty toward slaves (and indentured workers) in colonies where “cheap labor was limited”. And several of Chris’ recent articles have talked about how the increasing cost of labor is driving mechanization. Meanwhile, while such mechanization was still expensive and experimental, we’ve seen a decades-long epidemic of outsourcing in which jobs, particularly in manufacturing, are sent off-shore to other countries.

    And, of course, we’ve seen the demand for “free trade” agreements with those countries, even when their environmental and labor standards are grotesque compared to ours. We can’t as easily or as profitably oppress our own citizens any more, to wring out unfair advantage, so let’s find some other poor schmucks. If we’re not allowed to cut corners here lest we create another Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, let’s just do it in Bangladesh instead.

    Sure, such crass pursuit of profit without regard to humanity results in cheaper products. Some might consider cheaper “stuff” an obvious and meritorious success. Others might consider the demand for it, regardless of its effect on others, to be the victory of Gordon Gecko, that “Greed is good.” Ignoring human costs in favor of feathering your own nest is exactly what was happening in the squalid mind of that Levittown homeowner: “[He’s] probably a nice guy, but every time I look at him I see $2,000 drop off the value of my house.”

    Coates returns often to the issue of “plunder”. And that’s what capitalist exploitation of third-world, post-colonial foreigners amounts to, all too often. It hurts workers here at home (including those who suffered under previous incarnations of that same plunderous ethos) by sucking away employment opportunities, and proceeds to hurt workers abroad. In fact, it causes long-standing damage to foreign people and places, and to our national prestige. A lot of Indians still remember the Bhopal disaster, or the ongoing water shortages in Kerala caused by the Coca-Cola plant there.

    I know what our usual, simplistic reactionaries will screech, but I’m not saying capitalism itself is evil or wrong. The problem is *predatory* capitalism: an unfettered quest for ever-larger returns, without concern for gratuitous increases in the toll of human misery.

    • CaptSternn says:

      Are you enjoying posting comments from your affordable computer, tablet or smart-phone?

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Is enjoyment the most important principle to you?

        No wonder you support the Comfederacy, to whom the pleasures of bigotry and slaveholding were more enjoyable and important than humanity or patriotism.

  26. kabuzz61 says:

    It is unfortunate that Chris puts forth an article that is thought provoking but a couple of commenters here take it to the extreme. One actually called out the GOP as racist. If you want to pin point the problem with talking race, there it is. “It is them” , “no it is them.”

    Again, you can’t buy off sin. We are way past it. Way, way past it.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      You can’t buy off sin — but you can try to ameliorate the sin’s effects.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Exactly, you cannot give back to this segment of society the very lives, treasury, and labor that were lost due to these actions but your can work to make up for past injustice.

      • flypusher says:

        From the end of the article:
        ‘Plunder in the past made plunder in the present efficient. The banks of America understood this. In 2005, Wells Fargo promoted a series of Wealth Building Strategies seminars. Dubbing itself “the nation’s leading originator of home loans to ethnic minority customers,” the bank enrolled black public figures in an ostensible effort to educate blacks on building “generational wealth.” But the “wealth building” seminars were a front for wealth theft. In 2010, the Justice Department filed a discrimination suit against Wells Fargo alleging that the bank had shunted blacks into predatory loans regardless of their creditworthiness. This was not magic or coincidence or misfortune. It was racism reifying itself. According to The New York Times, affidavits found loan officers referring to their black customers as “mud people” and to their subprime products as “ghetto loans.” ‘

        That’s WITHIN THE PAST TEN YEARS, in case anyone is still inclined to dismiss this as all something that happened long ago.

  27. kabuzz61 says:

    Great article. Too many ‘maybes’, ‘in a way’, ‘could be’s’.

    Reparations? NO. No fair way to calculate. No measure to be had.

    The Irish and Italians were put through the wringer also when they came to the USA. Not as long but just as brutal.

    You can’t buy your way out of sin. Reconciliation and forgiveness is the only power left.

    • Doug says:

      “Reparations? NO. No fair way to calculate. No measure to be had.”

      I say yes, but there are some hurdles. We’ll need to simplify to make this workable.

      First, eligibility. We could spend hundreds of billions determining and documenting eligibility, but let’s keep it simple.. If you think you’re due, go to Home Depot and look for the paint swatches. Find “Burnished Mocha” and hold it next to your arm. If your skin is darker, you’re in. Lighter, you obviously have at least one white ancestor and therefore you’re one of the oppressors who has unfairly benefited from his skin color. Nice try, but no. Next!

      Second, the dollar amount. Simple. Everyone in the eligible group gets to submit a number, with the understanding that those who submit a number in the top 25% get nothing. That should keep most people reasonable. Once all the numbers are in, calculate the median. That’s what each person gets, even the greedy ones.

      Finally, there can’t be reparations without proving harm. Are you harmed because someone long dead brought you ancestors here three centuries ago? Seriously? Then prove it. If they hadn’t (and if you were even alive today) you’d likely be living in the Congo, Angola, Senegal, or some other west African rat hole. So you get to flip a coin: Heads, you get the money. Tails, you get a one-way trip to a random west-African country with no chance of return. We’ll sell off your stuff and send you a check, and you can forget that you were ever a part of this terrible, racist country with no opportunities for people like you. Are you in? Sign the paper and let’s get this over with.

      • goplifer says:

        So you didn’t read it.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Is that a real questions?

      • flypusher says:

        “Finally, there can’t be reparations without proving harm. Are you harmed because someone long dead brought you ancestors here three centuries ago? Seriously? Then prove it. If they hadn’t (and if you were even alive today) you’d likely be living in the Congo, Angola, Senegal, or some other west African rat hole.”

        Sentiments like that make me retch. You could start an equally intense debate about what portion of Africa’s current problems have roots in colonialism and its aftermath. This isn’t some white people are the root of all evil rant. I have no doubt that if the situation had been reversed and the Africans had been in the position to enslave and conquer Europeans, they would have done so. Than what humans in not yet evolved civilizations/ cultures do- exploit the weaker ones. A sign of a maturing culture would be to not sweep this under a rug, learn something from it, and work on not doing anymore of that.

      • flypusher says:

        Also the proper standard of comparison isn’t whether an average black American has a life that’s on par with the average African. Rather it should be how it stacks up against the average American standard.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      Individual reparations are, I think, a terrible idea.

      *Collective* or *societal* reparations, however, are something we should strongly consider.

      Among several quotes that struck me, one was: “It is as though we have run up a credit-card bill and, having pledged to charge no more, remain befuddled that the balance does not disappear. The effects of that balance, interest accruing daily, are all around us.”

      THIS is one of the reasons Sternn’s nattering about “local control” often doesn’t make sense. Local control too often conceals local chicanery. There is a place for a national government setting national standards to eliminate regional prejudices and local bigotries.

      We could use a massive federal jobs program, focused on repair and extension of infrastructure (bridges, roads, etc.), with a specific mandate to hire workers — and provide training and transportation — from poor urban neighborhoods.

      We could use a new Homestead Act, in which the federal government would acquire foreclosed, abandoned properties, as are found in so many cities now, and offer them to poor families with a guarantee to full ownership of the property if they will live in, fix up, and maintain the home for a given period. (Regional centers offering classes in home repair and access to inexpensive materials bought in bulk would also help.)

      We could use a massive restructuring of public schools, forcing a move away from the mass-production, assembly-line model we have now (driven by a mania for efficiency rather than for education) and toward smaller classes, in smaller schools, with better resources, and higher-paid teachers freed to be true professionals rather than administration-harried test-prep drudges.

      But it won’t happen.

      Republicans won’t approve any money for such efforts (as the clear ideological descendants of those greed-driven Levittown inhabitants who complained, “every time I look at him I see $2,000 drop off the value of my house.”). Corporate owners and union leadership will feverishly oppose any government jobs program which replaces private-sector work and creates new, non-unionized employees. Banks and investors, for fear of cheap, government-subsidized competition in providing housing, will pillory anyone who proposes practically *giving* away housing. And teacher unions will oppose moves to upset the existing educational structure, just as the usual opponents of public education will rant against any change since change is expensive.

      • flypusher says:

        Well said Owl. The truly level playing field is the realistic solution.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        But a level playing field still most benefits those with the pre-existing advantages, even if the advantages were stolen from others (or inherited from those who stole from the others’ ancestors).

  28. Turtles Run says:

    That is one of the most powerful pieces of writing I have read in a long time. When we think of the history of slavery and jim crow we forget often the lingering effects of that shameful period in our history that in many ways continues today.

    This article proves false many of the beliefs held by some of the benign nature of segregation. It is not to be ever be confused with freedom.

    Do we owe monetary damages? Yesterday I would have said no but today I have to reconsider my thoughts on that issue. At minimum we must do more to wipe out the inequality facing the African-American community.

    Definitely something to think about.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      Individually assigned monetary damages are an impossible challenge.

      An effort to right the cumulative wrongs our society has done to an entire class of people might be difficult, but would certainly be moral and just.

      • Turtles Run says:

        I agree that financial damages would be near impossible to calculate but for now I think a simple acknowledgement of history would be a great start.

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