An opinion piece in the Carolina Journal is so stupid that I cannot even get past the first two sentences. I have a hard time believing they printed it. Ken Raymond’s piece criticizes Winston-Salem’s resolution to study the possibility of reparations for descendants of slaves. He opens with a ridiculous attempt to set the parameters of the debate. 

“Let’s make one thing perfectly clear about reparations: before you can support a resolution that calls for a commission to study the issue of slavery reparations for black citizens, you must first believe that today’s black Americans experienced slavery firsthand.

“There is no way around it. No one can make an honest argument in favor of the resolution that recently passed the Democrat-controlled Winston-Salem City Council (a 7-1 vote) unless they honestly believe that today’s black Americans lived in slavery between the 17th and 19th centuries.”

He establishes the basis of his entire argument on a false premise, defining what people may or may not believe. His essay wouldn’t get through most first year high school English classes, but it’s published in the Carolina Journal and promoted by the opinion editor as “hard-hitting.” If the first sentence is rejected, as any thinking person could reasonably do, his entire argument crumbles. 

How about if you believe that the government enforced laws that sanctioned slavery and Jim Crow policies that lasted until the last half of the 20th century systematically denied African Americans access to capital and the tools to economic success then their descendants are entitled to compensation. That’s a fair argument and solid basis for the debate over reparations. If somebody holds that view, then Raymond’s argument make falls apart. 

Conservatives are in a tizzy about race right now. The country is coming to grips with one of the most awful parts of our history and the lingering problem that effect society today. African Americans faced systematic discrimination that was enforced by Congress, legislatures, and courts. Today, they are still struggling to overcome that legacy and still face systems that keep them disproportionally impoverished and incarcerated. We can have real arguments on how to address these problems and the idea of reparations, but Ken Raymond’s is not one of them. 


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