Reparations for Slavery:
Misunderstanding A Complex History
The lead article in the current issue of THE ATLANTIC is The Case For
Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coats. Much of Coats's focus is how African-Americans
were treated in the years after slavery came to an end. He calls for a national reckoning
with the inextricable relationship between democracy and slavery.
"A nation outlives its generations," he writes. "We were not there when
Washington crossed the Delaware, but Emanuel Gottlieb Lentzes rendering has
meaning to us. Reparations would mean the end of scarfing hot dogs on the Fourth of
July while denying the facts of our heritage. Reparations would mean the end of yelling
patriotism while waving a Confederate flag."
Coats's recommended prescription is a bill that Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) has been
trying to advance for a quarter of a century. That legislation would mandate the study
of racial injustice and the advancement of proposals for reparations. Thus far,
Congress has not been prepared to pass such legislation.
In June, 2009, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution apologizing for slavery,
making way for a joint congressional resolution. The Senate apology followed
a similar one passed the year before by the House. One key difference is that the
Senate version explicitly deals with the long-standing issue of whether slavery
descendants are entitled to reparations, saying that the resolution may not be used
to support such claims. The House revisited its resolution to conform to the Senate
- Color-Blind Society4
- Attacks on Black Conservatives6
- Religions Role8
- State of Race Relations9
- Flat Tax11
- New Yorks Mayor13
- Criminal Justice Reform15
- Jon Utley17
- Russell Kirk19
- Ken Tomlinson20
(continued on page 2*)
Charles Ogletree, a Harvard law professor who has championed reparations,
was consulted on the Senate resolution and supported it. He stated that it is not...
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