Let’s Have a Little Fun with Reparations, Shall We?

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Wipe that smirk off your face. Reparations is a serious subject. Kamala Harris, contender for the Democratic nomination for president, has endorsed in principle the idea of reparations. So if Mitch McConnell brings reparations up for a vote in the Senate, she has promised to vote present. Wipe that smirk off your face.

Speaking of reparations, and things that are like reparations—paving the way for them, so to speak—the new president of Mexico has sent a letter to the pope and to the King of Spain, asking them to apologize for their historic treatment of Mexico’s indigenous peoples.

Now this is daydream material. Somebody make that shimmery thing happen with the camera . . . and in the pope’s reply, he suggested that the president of Mexico calculate the monetary damages caused to the indigenous peoples of Mexico by the Aztecs, keeping in mind that their behavior was such as to make the conquistadors seem like real relief and a good idea.

I myself am intending to send a letter to the new president of Mexico, asking for his apology for Stalin’s treatment of Ukraine. Surely we should be able to get some commie to say they are sorry for that business.

We should even consider the possibility that the Aztecs were being deliberately provocative, in order to stumble newcomers from Europe into a well-intentioned but perhaps counterproductive rescue mission. Maybe the Spanish conquest of Mexico was a sincere albeit inept attempt to spread sweetness and light. Do possible good intentions count toward the total reparations bill? Perhaps the understandable Spanish overreaction should be billed to the Aztecs as well.

One of the things we are going to have to do if we are to pursue the issue of reparations with the full seriousness that it deserves is determine which corporate entities—still in existence and which still have some money—have any ongoing complicity in the shameful legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. It appears to me that the leading contender for that spot would be the Democratic Party. I mean, the Democratic National Convention in 1924 formally voted down a motion to condemn the KKK. And for those who say that 1924 was almost a century ago, we say reparations, baby! And besides, who is the current governor of Virginia?

There is no way to do this kind of thing without attracting people who will want to cash in by means of false claims. In order to discourage this, we will have to find a price point for all false claims. I would suggest that Jussie Smollett has helped us out in this regard. He recently forfeited 10K in exchange for one historical set of lies. And to be fair, and in order to be able to call this Jussie’s Law, we should grant any person who has been fined 10K for telling a historical lie, provided they keep the receipt, the right to continue to tell that same lie. But not any new ones.

But the more I think about this, the more complicated it seems to get. I mean, we can’t just pick one people group with historic bad deeds and make them pay another people group, and then not apply the same standard elsewhere. But as soon as we turn to examine whether or not there are any comparable situations elsewhere, we find—to our monetary dismay—that there are no situations that are not comparable. Tom Lehrer helped us to isolate the problem . . .

The whole world is festering
With unhappy souls.
The French hate the Germans,
The Germans hate the Poles;
Italians hate Yugoslavs,
South Africans hate the Dutch,
And I don’t like anybody very much

So maybe we should start with the worst offenders. If we work that out—and there will no doubt be some snarls to untie—we will then be in a position to unravel the more complicated cases, like the English treatment of Ireland, or Irish behavior in Chicago. So I would suggest we start with three groups of people, bankrupt their descendants first, drain the well dry so to speak, and then reevaluate. We can take stock with a sober measurement, preening ourselves for our moral pulchritude, considering carefully how much additional harmony we have brought into the world. It’ll be great. My nominations for the three initial vict . . er, oppressor groups would be the Aztecs, previously mentioned, the Comanche, and the Vikings. The Vikings were bad to pretty much everybody, and would have pretty much nothing to say for themselves. And we can land really hard on their lineal descendants, in the Shetlands, say. In any problem cases, we can allow limited appeals on the basis of AncestryDNA.com and 23AndMe.

I am aware of the fact that some scholars who are serious about getting robust shakedown payouts from the process of racial reconciliation have raised doubts about pursuing reparations on this tribal basis. The real problem, as they argue it, would be skin color, not tribal identity. Descent from the actual culprits is not the issue—what matters is that a person have the same tint as the culprit. And speaking of tint, when we look at the hegemonic misdeeds of the pale people, the case almost seems to argue itself. It has the additional value of keeping the calculus simple, which is really necessary if a number of your activists are not too bright. So why not turn to the color experts? All we have to do is get a huge room, and a bunch of Benjamin Moore color swatches. If you are to one side of the culpable color swatch, you owe a certain amount of money to a designated person on the other side of it. It is simple, straightforward, elegant, and easy to understand. There really is no way that this could go wrong.

Those who argue that such a hardline approach to reparations after World War One is how you manage to get World War Two, we say bah! Or perhaps phooey! We must not leave any room for such negative thinking. We must pursue the shakedown while the shakedown pursuing is good! That river is flowing, and so folks need to run down the esplanade with a bucket in both hands.

Can you be serious for a minute? Honestly.

Sure, I’ll try. For a minute.

Could there not be a genuine case for genuine reparations?

Sure. Yes. There could. Obligations from one people group to another can exist over the course of generations.

What North American groups, in your thinking, might be eligible for such genuine reparations?

Two possible groups would be members of Indian tribes that had their treaties broken, and direct lineal descendants of slaves.

So what would be wrong with the government giving them money in reparations?

If the government just gives them money, that is not reparations for slavery, it is a continuation of slavery.

What do you mean?

I mean that you can’t get off the plantation by staying on the plantation. And in order to pay out these funds, the government would have to enslave others by stealing their money.

So how could reparations be made then?

Just spit-balling here, but if any member of a group eligible for reparations signs a release declining all future welfare benefits from the government, that person will be given a certificate that allows him to forego paying income tax for the next fifty years. When he applies for that fifty-year tax exemption, he will sign a release saying that as far as he and his descendants are concerned the subject of reparations is now closed. The window for making application for such a status will be ten years from now, in say the year 2030.

What would be the result of such a plan, in your view?

Universal peace and harmony.