Larry Elder, an American radio host, author and attorney, recently noted: “Reparations are the extraction of money from those who were never slave owners to be given to those who were never slaves.” (Image source: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0)
The political left in the United States now seems to embrace the most openly racist ideas perhaps since German National Socialism in the 1930s and 1940s.
Their racist view, according to which the color of skin is the measure of all reality, truth, hierarchy and moral values, marks a startling regression.
During recent riots, shop fronts and synagogues in the United States were defaced with antisemitic slogans. It is argued in vain that these threats should not be exaggerated; a protester in New York City seemed comfortable openly declaring on Fox News that he intended to lead his peers, laden with cheap gasoline, to set fire to a neighborhood, the “Diamond District,” where many Jews are known to work.
The doctrine that reduces human beings to the color of their skin does not befit any society, especially a multiracial one.
One of the demands of many on the left is to pay trillions of dollars for reparations (when you love, you do not count) to the descendants of slaves. This demand presents three problems:
The first problem is collective responsibility; the idea that responsibility for the crimes of a few extends to all members of a group, both criminals and victims. As the American radio host, author and attorney Larry Elder, who happens to be Black, recently noted on Twitter: “Reparations are the extraction of money from those who were never slave owners to be given to those who were never slaves.”
The second problem is responsibility through the generations: the idea that the passage of time does not change anything. Children who are not yet born, are, in advance, responsible for the crimes and abuses of their ancestors — and all the ancestors of the “group” to which they belong.
Note that collective responsibility and historical responsibility are the two theoretical and moral matrices of anti-Semitism throughout the ages — as in “they killed Jesus!” Jean-Paul Sartre showed this most vividly in his book Anti-Semite and Jew (“Réflexions sur la question juive”).
The third problem is that of race, more precisely of skin color. From the perspective of many, especially on today’s political left, a person is defined first and foremost by his skin; he belongs in some way to the color of his skin and everything else is of less importance. A white person can be considered a criminal by the color of his skin, just as Jews were considered criminals by the simple fact of their Jewishness.
Finally, identifying the descendants of slaves involves the exhaustive genealogical and genetic mapping of the entire American population, down to the last DNA fragment — even totalitarian China did not dare to go that far — and raises persistent questions. What about Americans who have both white and black ancestors, for example, President Barack Obama? What about Americans who have both slave ancestors and slave-owner ancestors? What about the countless Americans who are of mixed blood? Will we have to measure their skulls, their jaws, their percentage of ancestors of such and such a race? The Nazis favored the latter technique.
What to do?
We should not allow ourselves to fall into the crude trap of this debilitating racialization. In the arc of civilizations, contemporary Western civilization is the most radically alien to the concept of race since ancient Rome and the empire of Alexander the Great.
Reducing human beings to their skin color marks the supreme defeat in humanistic and political thought.
We should be better than this reinvention of racial hatred by the left. The great American economist Thomas Sowell — who also happens to be Black — wrote:
“Nothing could be more jolting and discordant with the vision of today’s intellectuals than the fact that it was businessmen, devout religious leaders and Western imperialists who together destroyed slavery around the world. And if it doesn’t fit their vision, it is the same to them as if it never happened.”
All decent American leaders must stop retreating and take the offensive on all fronts. The legal categorization of Antifa as a terrorist organization is a first step in the right direction.
Drieu Godefridi, a classical-liberal Belgian author, is the founder of the l’Institut Hayek in Brussels. He has a PhD in Philosophy from the Sorbonne in Paris and also heads investments in European companies.
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