Thursday, June 19, 2014

Walter Williams on the Slavery Reparations Hustle



Re-posted by Nicholas Stix

Although I agree with 95 percent of what Walter Williams says below, I believe he made one mistake.
There's another thorny issue. During slavery, some free blacks purchased other blacks as a means to free family members. But other blacks owned slaves for the same reason whites owned slaves -- to work farms or plantations. Are descendants of these slaveholding blacks eligible for and deserving of reparations?

While thousands of free antebellum American blacks owned black slaves, I am not aware of any who purchased slave relatives, in order to free them. To my knowledge all black slave owners owned black slaves strictly for profit. As far as I can tell, this enduring myth of altruistic black slave owners was spun out of whole cloth by Carter G. Woodson, the father of black studies and Black History Month. Woodson wrote a series of polemics disguised as scholarship, in which he idealized blacks and demonized whites. If anything, white slave owners treated their black slaves better than their black counterparts did. (Slavery scholar Quentin Tarantino notwithstanding, white slave owners were hell on their white slaves, often working them to death, or simply murdering them, treatment they would never dish out to black slaves.)

I am aware of people who purchased black slaves in order to free them, but the altruists in question were all white. There was a movement of white Quakers in North Carolina who engaged in this practice, which historian John Hope Franklin described as “virtual freedom.” The white Quaker slave owners would house the black slaves on their property, in order to protect them, but the slaves would otherwise move about freely, and go into town every day to hire themselves out, plying their various skills (carpentry, etc.), pocketing their pay, and returning home every night. The North Carolinian owners would have preferred to freed the slaves outright, but the courts forbade it.

Slavery Reparations
Walter E. Williams
June 18, 2014
Town Hall

Calls for slavery reparations have returned with the publication of Ta-Nehisi Coates' "The Case for Reparations" in The Atlantic magazine (May 21, 2014). In making his argument, Coates goes through the horrors of slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow and gross racial discrimination.

First off, let me say that I agree with reparations advocates that slavery was a horrible, despicable violation of basic human rights. The gross discrimination that followed emancipation made a mockery of the guarantees of the U.S. Constitution.
I also agree that slave owners and slave traders should make reparations to those whom they enslaved. The problem, of course, is that slaves, slave owners and slave traders are all dead. Thus, punishing perpetrators and compensating victims is out of the hands of the living.

Punishing perpetrators and compensating victims is not what reparations advocates want. They want government to compensate today's blacks for the bondage suffered by our ancestors. But there's a problem. Government has no resources of its very own. The only way for government to give one American a dollar is to first -- through intimidation, threats and coercion -- confiscate that dollar from some other American. Therefore, if anybody cares, a moral question arises. What moral principle justifies punishing a white of today to compensate a black of today for what a white of yesterday did to a black of yesterday?

There's another moral or fairness issue. A large percentage, if not most, of today's Americans -- be they of European, Asian, African or Latin ancestry -- don't even go back three or four generations as American citizens. Their ancestors arrived on our shores long after slavery. What standard of justice justifies their being taxed to compensate blacks for slavery? For example, in 1956, thousands of Hungarians fled the brutality of the USSR to settle in the U.S. What do Hungarians owe blacks for slavery?

There's another thorny issue. During slavery, some free blacks purchased other blacks as a means to free family members. But other blacks owned slaves for the same reason whites owned slaves -- to work farms or plantations. Are descendants of these slaveholding blacks eligible for and deserving of reparations?

When African slavery began, there was no way Europeans could have enslaved millions of Africans. They had no immunity from diseases that flourished in tropical Africa. Capturing Africans to sell into slavery was done by Arabs and black Africans. Would reparations advocates demand that citizens of Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Kenya and several Muslim states tax themselves to make reparation payments to progeny of people whom their ancestors helped to enslave?

Reparations advocates make the foolish unchallenged argument that the United States became rich on the backs of free black labor. That's nonsense that cannot be supported by fact. Slavery doesn't have a very good record of producing wealth. Slavery was all over the South, and it was outlawed in most of the North. Buying into the reparations argument about the riches of slavery, one would conclude that the antebellum South was rich and the slave-starved North was poor. The truth of the matter is just the opposite. In fact, the poorest states and regions of our nation were places where slavery flourished -- Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia -- while the richest states and regions were those where slavery was absent: Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts.

One of the most ignored facts about slavery's tragic history -- and it's virtually a secret today -- is that slavery was a worldwide institution for thousands of years. It did not become a moral issue until the 18th century. Plus, the moral crusade against slavery started in the West, most notably England.

I think the call for slavery reparations is simply another hustle. Advocates are not demanding that government send checks to individual black people. They want taxpayer money to be put into some kind of reparations fund from which black leaders decide who receives how much and for what purpose.


The PDK Herald/Crier Project said...

Negro enslaved negro period.

Whites came to accept that African negros with 68% of their population between the IQs of 55-85, simply were not mentally fit for liberty in the white man's higher culture of civilization, and so accepted the ideology of negros being worthy only of enslavement.

In Africa, negro enslaving negro was the norm.

We whites do not owe the poor, lowly negro, in fact the poor, lowly negro owes we whites.

If it were not for the white liberal ideology of the white man's burden, and the negro illusory equivalent, negro social justice, both forced upon all whites with a totalitarian power behind them, whites would see this truth clearly.

The only way off this lunatic merry-go-round is to leave all of that persuasion behind, begin again and outlaw them from the start.

We whites do not owe the negro, the negro owes we whites.

White liberals are those who fail to mature or transcend insanity. We should not allow them to dictate to we non-liberal, non-apostate whites anymore.

FTS, I'm PDK: Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I say now, there is no need to muddy the waters with a lot of facts.

Anonymous said...

The south was relatively wealthy in 1861.

As a matter of fact the fifth richest nation on the planet was the Confederacy those states comprising the secessionist states.

Anonymous said...

That issue of slavery is very ancient.

More slaves in captivity today world wide than there was in 1861. Slavery hardly a unique American institution.

Anonymous said...

Professor Gates agrees that less than 5 % of those slaves taken out of Africa and sent to the New World arrived in what became the thirteen colonies and subsequently the United States.

The vast number of slaves sent to Brazil.

Anonymous said...

600,000 slaves taken out of Africa and sent to what became the United States.

About 700,000 whitey died during the American Civil War [both sides combined].

I would say bill paid in full and karma came home to roost.

Anonymous said...

Those advocating reparations what they call it always are fond of saying they don't mean a cash handout.

They mean scholarships to attend college and loans to start small business, etc.

The average-everyday negro in the street has an image of cash falling from the sky and burying him. That is what the negro wants.