A new petition posted to WhiteHouse.gov demands reparations for slavery and, as of the time of this writing, is nearing 10% of the support required for an official White House response.
The idea of reparations isn’t a new one. However, the way in which this petition phrases the request proves provocative. Here’s the text:
General William T. Sherman issued Field Order No.15 in 1865, authorizing the redistribution of 160,000,000 acres of land to newly freed black families in forty-acre plots. This action approved by President Lincoln, was to redress the crimes of slavery. However, the order was rescinded after the assassination of Lincoln & the land returned to the original slave owners.
We, the descendants of the Freedmen, in accordance with both national & international law demand The Obama Administration fulfill the United States obligation to make reparation in an adequate form.
We demand President Obama move swiftly by Executive Orders & Actions to provide:
Restitution of our land.
Various forms of rehabilitation.
Apology & Guarantees of non-repetition.
Compensation for economic disenfranchisement.
The request proves absurd on a number of fronts. In a world where Bill Cosby won’t answer for rape due to statutes of limitation, we’re supposed to punish modern property owners for crimes committed hundreds of years ago? How does a black person in 2015 need rehabilitation from something experienced by an ancestor in 1815?
The petition author gets basic historical facts wrong. As documented in the video embedded above, Special Field Order #15 was never intended as reparations for the crimes of slavery. It was intended as a practical solution to a logistical problem: what to do with newly freed refugees. The black men who met with Stanton and Sherman in Savannah at the end of the Civil War sought to have their rights protected and to otherwise be left alone.
The biggest joke within this demand is the call for a guarantee of non-repetition. Cycles of history notwithstanding, the chances of chattel slavery manifesting in the modern United States hardly seem high enough to warrant serious concern. More ironically, the very same ideological bloc promoting this petition supports the essence of slavery.
Slavery is the opposite of liberty. It is the ownership of one human being, the seizure of the fruit of labor, by another human being. In calls for things like reparations, redistribution of wealth, stronger government regulation and the like, today’s slave drivers dominate the political Left. They wear labels like “progressive.” One of them currently occupies the White House.
Anyone truly upset about slavery should be upset about its modern manifestations, not seeking handouts on account of historical injustices they never experienced.