I may get in a lot of trouble for this, but that’s the risk you take with bold statements. And the bill on slavery reparations, currently before a Congressional committee, requires the boldest. Even President Obama stated he was against this a year ago. Why is this bill even in committee?
Well, if he isn’t going to say anything, I am. By the way, this is an old song. Never liked it.
The issue of reparations for slavery, once a hot topic of political speculation and conjecture among pundits everywhere, not to mention political agitation and racial tension, is fast becoming a possible source of yet even more crushing financial drain on an already shaky American economy.
It is called H.R. 40, submitted by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) with three co-sponsors, and its exact title is “Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act.” It was introduced on January 6th of this year, and has since been referred to committee.
A report by the committee is pending. Here is the bill’s foreword:
“To acknowledge the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to examine the institution of slavery, subsequently de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes.”
I really don’t like that “and for other purposes” clause. It’s a blank check. In any bill. Like the one Massachusetts throws into all their ballot referendums. Five pages of fine print on how proposed tobacco taxes will be going straight to children’s health insurance programs, finished off with “or as the Legislature so designates.”
Ironically, this type of bill, if passed, could actually wind up hurting black Americans.
Example. If a longstanding company’s business can be traced back to pre-Reconstruction profiteering off of slavery by the Committee, and the company is ordered to pay millions in compensation as a result, who pays the price when that company lays off whole work forces for financial reasons? Or closes its doors for good, because the tab for a crime against humanity no living human being in America has suffered for generations is just too goddamn high?
And the American people are already wrung dry enough as it is. Yet given the makeup and track record of our current government, I would hardly expect common sense and reason to prevail here. Just the opposite, in fact. Ergo, I feel compelled to do the math on this subject myself, and H.R 40 just does not add up. My solution to the equation of reparations may be considered blasphemous by some. Fortunately, blasphemy is not a stoning crime in America. Yet.
My Fellow Americans, Reparations for Slavery by the United States Government, and the People of the United States of America, have been paid in full. With interest. But before we go back to the Dark Age of Slavery, let us look at America today. Or, more specifically, Americans. You can call them African-Americans if you like. I prefer the short form.
We’re all just a bunch of mutts anyway. Hardworking, hard-drinking, hard-dancing, music-loving, movie-going, sports-playing, pot-smoking, TV-watching, video-gaming, karaoke-singing, flame-blogging, barbecue-throwing, book-reading, church-going, internet porn-watching, tail-chasing mutts! And proud of it.
On that note, My Fine Fellow Americans, let us look at some of our other Fine Fellow Americans, both past and present. George Washington Carver. Scott Joplin. Hattie McDaniel. Billie Holiday. Louis Armstrong. Muddy Waters. Bo Diddley. Little Richard. Skip James. Robert Johnson. Buddy Guy. Martin Luther King. Sidney Poitier. Muhammed Ali. Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Diana Ross and the Supremes. James Brown. Marvin Gaye. Jimi Hendrix. Sly Stone. Billy Preston (one Beatles, one Stones). George Benson. Ben Vereen. Billy Dee Williams. Clarence Williams III.
Two links for Clarence. I really like him. Have my whole life. From Mod Squad to Tales From The Hood to American Gangster, Clarence Williams III is the Bomb. My Man!
Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder, who play better blind than most anyone of any color that can see. Curtis Mayfield. Isaac Hayes. The Brothers Chambers. The Brothers Johnson. No, the Dark Brothers are white. Spike Lee. Chris Rock. Denzel Washington. Bill Cosby. Eddie Murphy. Beyonce. Michael Jordan. Shaq. Halle Berry. Good sport, Halle. Wil Smith. Jada Pinkett Smith. Samuel L. Jackson.
And if you don’t? President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle.
I didn’t mention Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte because they’re palling around with Hugo Chavez, who kicked Human Rights Watch out of the country. For starters. But it’s not a Black Thing. I strongly disapprove of Sean Penn for the same reason.
But even for Harry and Danny life has been grand here in America, despite their bitching. They’ve both spent more money on clothes than I’ll ever see in my lifetime. Hell, the combined wealth of all the above rivals entire nations! And that’s my major point.
America has paid whatever debt it owed to Americans who were once slaves. In fact, America has done more that just pay back that debt with money. It has paid it back with the realization of dreams no price can be put on, even fulfilling some of my wildest dreams in the process.
And nowhere else on Planet Earth could those same dreams have been realized with the same phenomenal magnitude and impact for all involved. In fact, that is why I linked the hell out of all the above. To show just how far and wide that impact and magnitude really extends.
Despite lingering racial problems, which are hardly America’s province alone, and are most likely a tragic part of the human condition, nowhere on Earth can Americans of ANY color enjoy anywhere near the degree of happiness, success, fame, fortune and yes, even safety, as they do here in the Good Ole USA. I know James Brown felt good about Living in America.
Let us imagine for a moment that slavery never happened. That there was never any slave trade between Americans and African tribes, and no mass emigration of native Africans to America. With the notable exception of such outstandingly great nations as Ghana and Morocco, Africa today is a very troubled continent, and has been for some time. Sudan. Somalia. Algeria. Libya. Liberia. Zimbabwe. Uganda. Rwanda. Ethiopia. Nigeria. The Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Tens of millions have died from war, disease, famine, massacre, even genocide in my lifetime. They die even today. Even Egypt, the Cradle of Civilization, has its modern-day troubles.
In America, the sick, racially motivated murder of James Byrd, Jr. in Texas was considered a national outrage, and rightfully so. No human being deserves to be brutalized like that! Two of the three Klan-like perps have been sentenced to death, and I would like nothing better than to plunger the needles myself. Though I would much rather drag them from chains behind my truck.
Yet on any average day in troubled Africa, hundreds of innocent James Byrds die violently, and in the worst possible ways. Even entire families. Even entire populations.
Some Americans may misinterpret those words as spiteful and racist: “well if you don’t like it here, go back to Africa!” That could not be further from the truth. My words mean exactly the opposite: where would most Americans of African origin really have been better off the past 140 years, given all the facts on the ground on both continents?
You could ask the same of Americans of Armenian descent. Or Jews who fled Europe for America. Yes, there have been many racial wrongs in America since the Civil War. The Klan’s cross-burning and lynching horrorshows. Rosewood. Tuskegee. Racial segregation. America has a very dark and tattered past. What nation doesn’t?
But that is not the America we live in today. We live in an America today that is so egalitarian, our exceedingly white-majority population just elected Barack Obama president in an electoral landslide. And he was elected to that highest of offices based on Americans’ perceptions of the content of his character, not the color of his skin.
Despite our flaws, we live in an America today that is the realization of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Dream. Can anyone doubt rivers of tears would have streamed from Dr. King’s eyes at Barack Obama’s inauguration as President of the United States? He would probably still be weeping tears of joy even now. And for a while to come.
But that is not enough for some Americans. And never will be.
For many, the past will always cloud the present, and our future as well. To some, it is their mission in life to keep those dark clouds hovering. Some Americans are constantly looking for racial trouble where none exists. Some of those troublemakers may even interpret my words to mean that slavery was a good thing. Doesn’t mean that at all.
But it may mean that a very good thing came out of a very great evil. It happens. Think of how much poorer our treasured American culture would be without all the above. And they’re all just scratching the surface. I for one believe that if Dr. King were alive today at the age of 80, he would be standing in an America which, despite its many flaws, he could not be prouder of.
And Dr. King knew the right way to go.
That main point seems to escape Rep. Conyers, Spike Lee and Al Sharpton, among many others. Or worse, they choose not to see, in order to maintain their own racial and political grudges despite how they have succeeded in, and profited immensely from, majority-white America.
I for one am sick of being beat over the head with the Slavery Club, or being called racist by birth. Am I to be judged by the color of my skin or the content of my character? Besides, not only did the Civil War end nearly 100 years before I was born, I’m a Northerner! I grew up poor in a mean housing project outside Boston! My Scottish-Irish great-grandfather came over from Edinboro in 1899!
I got nothin’ to do with it! And neither do tens of millions of immigrants since. Why should our tax dollars go to pay for some idiotic reparations bill that has already been paid in full, and more? We’ve already got minority scholarships, minority job fairs, minority business grants, minority hiring preferences, the Congressional Black Caucus, all of which my tax dollars support.
And all to which I am ineligible for admittance. And why? Because of my race.
My Fellow Americans, this constant racial fracturing, and digging up of the moldy corpse of slavery by grievance-mongering gold-diggers, in order to squeeze, browbeat and punish relentlessly their Fellow Americans on the issue of race, is Balkanizing us. E Pluribus Unum is out the window. Hell, I feel like an Irishman from Boston! Wait a minute…
Anyway. Enough said. I hope. Oh, and one last thing. Mostly white Americans shed an ocean of blood and treasure to rid this country of the scourge of slavery. Cost President Lincoln his life. You want I should put a price on all that? And what price should I demand for being terrorized in my youth by three black racist teenage thugs, who thought it would be funny to see how far I could suck in my white stomach as they pressed a knife blade into it?
Should I charge all black Americans for that egregious racially motivated offense, and two others? What price do I put on it? What does my nephew get for his broken jaw, and being beaten, stabbed, and nearly killed by four black Michigan Wolverine gang members in Cambridge, because of the color of HIS skin? What does Reginald Denny have coming to him?
Pursuing long-past racial grievances only nullifies any chance of racial harmony in the present and, more important, the future. The racial hatred and violence I and my nephew experienced personally was a hell of a lot more recent than the Civil War, yet I have let it go long ago. Even my nephew has let it go. It’s a shite-happening world. I only bring up my own racial brutalizing here, after thirty years, to show how dredging up the past on the matter of race gets us nowhere.
Time to put a lid on it, people. We must either bury the moldy corpse of slavery once and for all, or it will bury us. And our future as well. Not to mention our wallets. There are far more forums and mechanisms in place to address racial grievances in modern-day America than for any minority in any nation on earth.
In fact, the pendulum has swung so far in the opposite direction, is it now I, and millions of other Americans, coincidentally born in white meat suits, that are now being unjustly shut out of many societal benefits and opportunities because of the color of our skin, even as we pay for those same benefits out-of-pocket!
I am now a shut-out Irishman in Boston once again. How is that progress, I ask you?
Call all this White Rage if you will. But if the circumstances were reversed, I would be slamming white Americans just as hard. Probably harder, since I’m white myself. It is the idiocy, gold-digging and racial grievance-mongering I despise. It ain’t helping the matter of racial harmony in America any. Not one bit. Just the opposite, in fact. Resentment breeds resentment.
And I would say the same thing to them as I have said to today’s Nirthers, and now say to today’s reparations-seekers: Get Over It!
The Bar is Open for comments. So is Congress.