Ta-Nehisi Coates is taking Senator Sanders to task for not supporting reparations. I must confess that I found Sanders' reasons for not supporting reparations sound remarkably like what a lot of people who're against them say: they're politically impractical (he says, largely correctly I suspect, that their chances in Congress are "nil") and that they're divisive. But then again, it's not all that different from what then Professor Obama asked about reparations back around 1994:
Given the perceived failures of the traditional civil rights agenda in bringing about racial equality in the U.S., a number of black commentators argue that a program of reparations is the only legitimate means of making up for three hundred plus years of slavery. More recently, some white commentators have also supported a variant of the reparations concept—for example, the government financing a Community Reinvestment funds that would be controlled by the black community and render affirmative action obsolete. Do such proposals have any realistic chance of working their way through the political system? Would there be any legal impediments to such a broadly-conceived reparations policy?
Coates' point is that he expects more from Sanders, who's running as a radical challenger of the status quo. Certainly Sanders' statement seems quite moderate.
This makes me wonder if once Donald Trump gets the Republican nomination and he decides to run to the left of Hilary Clinton (because, hey, why not -- he wants to be president -- and consistency isn't an issue for Trump), will he come out in favor of reparations?
And a second question: would Sanders have been better off if he'd said something like:
My nation's journey toward justice has not been easy and it is not over. The racial bigotry fed by slavery did not end with slavery or with segregation. And many of the issues that still trouble America have roots in the bitter experience of other times. But however long the journey, our destination is set: liberty and justice for all. ...
We know that these challenges can be overcome, because history moves in the direction of justice. The evils of slavery were accepted and unchanged for centuries. Yet, eventually, the human heart would not abide them. There is a voice of conscience and hope in every man and woman that will not be silenced -- what Martin Luther King called a certain kind of fire that no water could put out. That flame could not be extinguished at the Birmingham jail. It could not be stamped out at Robben Island Prison. It was seen in the darkness here at Goree Island, where no chain could bind the soul. This untamed fire of justice continues to burn in the affairs of man, and it lights the way before us.
All of this is further evidence of the point I've been pushing for some time that discussion of reparations is not going away.