The Politics Of Blame
TNC finds Henry Louis Gates's op-ed against reparations very odd:
From my perspective, the most interesting and provocative modern questions around America's racial dilemma, like any societal dilemma, do not necessitate blame. To put it differently, I am not concerned about gender equality because I think I'm to blame thousands of years of sexism, I'm concerned about gender equality because it matches my moral center. Blame is irrelevant. In the context of race, the question isn't "Who is to blame for the Middle Passage, slavery, and Jim Crow?" it's "What, tangibly, can we do to counter its generational effects?"
I don't support reparations, I support all people grappling with all aspects of American history--including the role of people who looked likes, but are not us, in the slave trade. Seeking that understanding because you're looking for someone to blame, taints the process, it shades your vision, and before long you're ascribing identities to people who never held claimed them.
He clarifies his position in response to reader's defense of blame:
The problem is, in practical policy terms, you will almost certainly have to separate [blame from policy proscriptions]. I would argue the HCR is part of repairing the damage. The wages of HCR will be paid regardless of color. I'm struggling to think of an actual progressive policy that would help repair, but would not require black taxpayers to put up money. My point is that even you say, "They're to blame" the fact of the matter is that "We're all going to pay." Now, of course proportion plays a role in this, but there is nothing proportionate about the slave trade. We're all here. We're all going to have to help do the repairs...You say blame is useful, then who do we blame? I loved Delong's piece to, but mostly because of the end when he talks about societal inheritance. I believe in that. But there are some of us who were brought over on slave ships, who are very much equipped to help pay that debt. Should we not be taxed? After all, we're not to blame...