Reparations? How on earth could they be fair?

A committee of the U.S. House of Representatives last week held a hearing on whether the United States should pay reparations to the descendants of slaves, for the moral crime of slavery.

The proposal is not going anywhere, but its status as a non-starter does not mean it will not be brought up again in the future. Nor should it be immune from criticism.

Let’s start with this: If one human being makes a slave of another and abuses that person’s labor for personal gain, it would seem that the person owing the debt is the slaveholder. Sue them. If they are all dead and gone — as are all the slaves — what’s the point?

If the argument is that slavery delayed or deprived blacks of economic success, one might agree. Blacks who were slaves may have begun at a disadvantage, but what of free blacks who lived in the North? Would their descendants be eligible for reparations? What about slaves who escaped? And what about blacks who have enjoyed incredible success? Would they get reparations checks? Would black pro athletes, entertainers, lawyers, doctors, engineers, etc.? Would Barack Obama, even though his election (twice) belies the notion that America is a “racist” nation?

What about the descendants of the 350,000 Union soldiers who died during the Civil War, which resulted in the abolition of slavery? Would they have to pay reparations? Would Abraham Lincoln’s descendants have to pay? The descendants of members of Congress who voted for the 13th Amendment that ended slavery? The descendants of the people alive in the states then that voted for the amendment? Or how about just the people who lived in Northern states, where slavery was illegal?

What about the descendants of Americans who immigrated to the United States after the Civil War and into the 20th century? Their ancestors never lived in a nation that permitted slavery. Would they have to pay? Why?

If slavery is considered a white-on-black outrage, would all the other ethnicities that now comprise our nation have to pay?

Should women have to pay, since they could not vote in the 1800s and therefore had no voice in the matter of slavery?

Are you seeing the impossible stupidity of the notion of “reparations”? It is so obviously wrong that it needs to be swept away. For good. We hope it can be.