News & Politics

Warren, Harris Endorse Reparations for Slavery

Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris announced their support for reparations for slavery, according to the New York Times.

“We have to be honest that people in this country do not start from the same place or have access to the same opportunities,” Harris said. “I’m serious about taking an approach that would change policies and structures and make real investments in black communities.”

Warren would not elaborate on her support nor give any ideas on how to pay for a multi-trillion dollar reparations program.

The Warren campaign declined to give further details on that backing, but it came amid her calls for the federal government to provide special home-buying assistance to residents of communities that were adversely affected by “redlining,” the discriminatory practice of denying mortgages, usually in poor and nonwhite areas. She also announced a sweeping universal child-care proposal that could strongly benefit minority communities that often have limited early childhood services.

The morally driven policy goals of Ms. Harris and Ms. Warren reflect a broader shift in the importance of race and identity issues in the Democratic Party, according to several scholars and political leaders who focus on the intersection of race and politics. While Democrats have long cast themselves as more inclusive than the Republican Party, grass-roots organizers and many liberal voters of all races are now pushing elected officials to go further on policies of racial equality, regardless of any political calculations.

There is nothing “morally driven” about punishing people who are not responsible for the past. Someone’s skin color should not determine collective guilt. In fact, reparations are morally reprehensible and fly in the face of the fundamental tenets that underlie the creation of America. Specifically, the sins of the father shall not be visited upon his son.

This was the reason America was created: to give people a fresh start, no matter what their background or station in life.

The idea for slavery reparations has always been problematic. There just isn’t a practical or fair way to create and administer a reparations regime. Who gets the money? How much? How “black” do you have to be in order to be eligible for benefits? One fifth? One half? Would a black African immigrant who’s been here a few years get as much as a black citizen whose ancestors were slaves?

It’s impossible. That’s why Warren and other Democratic candidates who embrace reparations refuse to get specific about how much, who pays, and who benefits. And while there will be some discussion of reparations during the Democratic primary campaign, don’t expect the nominee to breathe a word about reparations during the general election.



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