Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Argument
Do we pay people for their ancestors’ being held slaves ?
Speaking before the house committee, Coates makes a compelling case for reparations. I read his piece in the Atlantic a few years ago and was moved. He speaks a hard truth this country is reluctant to face. I’m a Southerner, and I have always felt the issue got resolved at Appomattox. Slavery (the primary cause of the war despite what the lost cause crowd says) and the war, is different from comparisons to Germany or Japan and their issues of slavery/forced labor. The American Civil War had two armies, two countries and two distinct congresses at war with over 700,000 thousand dead. Additionally, the terms of Lee’s surrender were honored by the South, and that has not always been easy. Thus they cannot be renegotiated. But Coates argues on moral grounds and pushes our nation to be more than it probably is. I cannot fault him for that. He says, “That if Thomas Jefferson matters, so does Sally Hemings. That if D-Day matters, so does Black Wall Street. That if Valley Forge matters, so does Fort Pillow. Because the question really is not whether we’ll be tied to the somethings of our past, but whether we are courageous enough to be tied to the whole of them.”
The Atlantic has the full text here.
Equally powerful to Coates’ argument is one made my Quillete columnist Coleman Hughes below.