The media is calling it “groundbreaking.” A recent report from the California Reparations Task Force is spurring a movement to dress up welfare in a noxious new wrapper.
A point-by-point refutation of the various claims, carefully curated omissions and unworkable recommendations in the 500-page manifesto cannot cogently be undertaken here. What is clear in the aggregate, however, is that the report confirms the left wants Black Americans to live with that badge of slavery in perpetuity, not just among themselves, but in the eyes of the larger population.
Jim Crow didn’t die. It transformed into the welfare state. The Great Society programs created a successor to segregation by other means. Welfare, 20 million abortions and the collapse of the Black family, first highlighted by Daniel Patrick Moynihan in 1965, have contributed to the dulling of the American Black community’s power.
Now after more than 50 years of failure at ending poverty, equalizing educational opportunities and manufacturing economic advancement for Black Americans, the left has nowhere to turn but a new scheme like reparations to keep the toxic system in place. The results would be no different.
Why would they care? The American far left is dominated by wealthy white people. Even a sham charity like Black Lives Matter was funded by wealthy whites. Any state, local or national lobbying push for reparations will also likely be funded by white leftists.
The insidious nature of the reparations scheme is severalfold.
First, reparations are demeaning on its face. It’s another blatant attempt to bribe Black voters with taxpayer-funded payoffs figuring they are either angry enough, greedy enough or ignorant enough to participate in this social experiment.
Second, reparations will increase resentment between Black people and other ethnic groups causing greater ethnic isolation and segregation. Such antipathy will be welcomed by the left, who often see social strife and division as pathways to more government control.
Third, calls for reparations are merely a rebranding of welfare at a time when Democrats have been forced to pull back the reins on their larger plans to advance giveaways. If Universal Basic Income is the brass ring of the leftist political movement, the successful implementation of a reparations program is a close second.
But the left is panicking. Taxpayers are waking up to the fact that welfare doesn’t work. Public housing in this country is largely a disgrace. Urban schools continue to fail despite increased investment. Too many Black people, who have been promised the moon for decades, live lives punctuated by violence, abuse, drugs, prison, death and multi-generational dependency that ensures a repeat of that vicious cycle.
The California report ignores the more than $23 trillion in government welfare spending hocked by Democrats, Black leaders and guilt-ridden whites for five decades has never been a viable solution. The Black poverty and unemployment rates have largely been flat since the 1970s.
It ignores the failure of efforts to manufacture empowerment through affirmative action and quotas. It blames systemic racism for the fact that despite being only 13% of the population, Blacks comprised more than 55% of all homicides in 2020.
The racial puppeteering on the part of Democrats for all these years has left Black people with a mirage of equality.
Even the first Black president failed his own community. For all the symbolism of his election, Barack Obama left office with more than 500,000 more Black families living below the poverty line and Black homicide rates on the rise.
America’s Black community doesn’t need symbolic gestures, presidential appointments or statues of George Floyd. They don’t need schemes to buy them off. They need to be treated with the respect that every American deserves by having the shackles of government taken off their community once and for all.
Democrats don’t seem to have any interest in that.
All Americans must appreciate that the eventual California reparations program, whatever form it may take after Constitutional challenges, is a message to leftist activists across America that this method of government expansion and control is worth attempting at municipal, school districts or other jurisdictional levels. Expect this effort to infect the politics in areas far beyond the Golden State.
Any acceptance of this scheme is the intentional shredding of the Constitution, and Martin Luther King’s oft-ignored prayer for the nation that we judge people by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. It would be another in a long list of efforts by Democrats to diminish, deceive, segregate and control the Black population.
It’s a ruse that should be repugnant to every American.
• Tom Basile is the host of “America Right Now” on Newsmax Television, an author and a former Bush administration official.