Contra Reparations | Opinion

The idea that African-Americans are owed reparations for slavery in 2021 is laughable. Slavery was abolished in 1865. All the former slaves and slave-owners are long dead—as are their children. God himself does not visit the iniquity of the fathers past the third or fourth generation (Deut. 5:9), but we are now told to do so unto the seventh and eighth.

The moral debt America incurred for slavery has long since been discharged. Some 750,000 men died in the bloodiest war in our history to end slavery. Since the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, pro-black racial preferences have become the norm in every sector of American life. This past year, the poisonous lies peddled by Black Lives Matter (BLM) have become the country's unofficial state religion.

And yet, in spite of their manifest injustice, I would support reparations, but under one condition only: If America pays up, then everyone shut ups and we all finally agree to go beyond race.

No more racial grievances. No more white guilt. No more BLM rioting. No more Jussie Smollett hoaxes. No more preferential treatment and pathological pity for black America.

Those who feel aggrieved forgive. Those who feel guilty somewhat forget. And everyone moves on to the promised land of judging people not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Recrimination, revenge and resentment finally give way to reconciliation.

In exchange for reparations—at this point, what's a few more trillion dollars?—America dismantles the entire system of policies and prejudices that consistently favor some at the expense of others based solely on skin color.

Our fellow black American citizens would be treated just like all other Americans: equal rights under the law—the 14th Amendment as written and intended—and no explicit and purposeful discrimination in the private sector—the 1964 Civil Rights Act as written and intended. No more disparate impact analysis, imputations of subconscious bias or affirmative action—come what may of unequal life outcomes. America would finally become what it has always wanted to be: a genuine meritocracy that rewards competence and excellence, not the accidents of birth.

Our intellectual elites would also once and for all renounce the dominant racial narrative that has poisoned the public square for decades and is now at a fever pitch. No more ridiculous claims of systemic anti-black racism in the 21st century. No more grotesque distortions of history to reground America in 1619. No more relentless racial propaganda in our textbooks, museums and movies.

In short, an intellectually rigorous and honest treatment of racial questions, free of both animus and dogma, coupled with a deracialization of our public life. Sometimes, a criminal who dies while resisting arrest is just a criminal who dies while resisting arrest.

Painting of "The Peacemakers"
Painting of "The Peacemakers" GraphicaArtis/Getty Images

In their public pronouncements, elected officials, journalists and prominent Americans would emphasize the tremendous progress America has made in overcoming its ugly racial past. They would preach civic friendship and aim to strengthen the ties that bind us together as one people. Some may even want to go so far as to invoke MLK's ideal of brotherhood.

Wouldn't that be good for all Americans? Alas, it will never happen.

America's racial hucksters, black and white alike, would never agree to such a bargain. A post-racial America would be an unmitigated disaster for them. Who would still buy their platitudinous books, subsidize their "anti-racism" centers and subject themselves to their diversity indoctrination sessions? Instead of charging $6,000 an hour lecturing corporate America on its white privilege, Robin DiAngelo would be selling plastic jewelry on the Home Shopping Network.

The Democratic Party and the Left more broadly would also never agree to give up their obsession with race. They need to maintain the illusion that America remains a fundamentally racist nation. They need us to believe that, were it not for their vigilance, we'd be living under the Fourth Reich—we came close on January 6!

Most of all, they need to protect their most valuable political weapon: the baseless accusation of racism. It immediately discredits the opposition and detracts attention from the disastrous effects that many of their policies have had on Americans—blacks, in particular.

If America were to cease to be "racist," the Democrats would be reduced to being the party of bureaucracy, teachers' unions, corporate handouts, open borders, censorship, cowardice, sexual mutilation, decadence, vulgarity and ugliness. Instead, they continue to occupy the moral high ground as the Anti-Racist Party that fights systemic racism and the racist "deplorables" who voted for Drumpf.

You can also be sure that corporate America would deploy its enormous resources to sink such a deal. The national obsession with race is of great benefit to the oligarchs who own and run our major corporations: It directs the ire of ordinary Americans away from them and toward the nebulous forces of racism.

Corporate America is afraid of Occupy Wall Street, not of Black Lives Matter. The anti-capitalists hate the rich and corporations. The "anti-racists" do not: They can readily be bought off with performative wokeness and a sprinkling of diversity hires in the C-Suite. Hence the phenomenon of Woke Capitalism.

Americans need to understand that these powerful constituencies have a vested interest in keeping America "racist" forever. No set of attainable conditions would ever lead them to admit that America is no longer racist. A few trillion dollars of reparations certainly wouldn't.

No sooner would the reparations checks be issued than new demands would arise. In fact, you could have Mr. Reparations himself, Ta-Nehisi Coates, set the final amount and he'd still complain that it was insufficient.

Why would he be satisfied when he has written that "the country can never fully repay African-Americans?" White supremacy, he claims, is not "a tumor that could be isolated and removed from the body of America," but "a pervasive system both native and essential to that body." It is "a force so fundamental to America that it is difficult to imagine the country without it." This debt can never be discharged. This original sin can never be absolved.

The goal of those pushing reparations is not to heal the wounds of the past, but to leverage them in perpetuity in order to punish their enemies and secure political and economic privileges for themselves. All we will get from them, aside from more debt, are more vengeful demands, more anti-white animus, more lies and more acrimony in the public square. As such, well-meaning Americans of all races should oppose reparations.

David Azerrad is an assistant professor at Hillsdale College's Van Andel Graduate School of Government in Washington, D.C.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.