The Instigator
Todopoderoso
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
gordonjames
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Reparations for African Americans

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/20/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,451 times Debate No: 67380
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (11)
Votes (0)

 

Todopoderoso

Pro

I am for reparations for Black Americans and for other minority groups more broadly but would like to debate the merits for reparations for Black Americans specifically . I have heard and read many arguments against reparations for Black Americans and have found all arguments to be unfounded and a lack of knowledge of both history and social science by people making arguments against reparations. Is there anyone who can make a good argument against reparations?
gordonjames

Con

I am against unnecessary lawsuits and “victim culture” in general.
I specifically oppose reparations for Black Americans for a number of moral, legal and practical reasons.

Although it is PRO’s job to first post his reasons for supporting “reparations for Black Americans”, I will give a few points to consider so PRO know the basics of my arguments.

1. There was a civil war fought from 1861 to 1865 to determine the survival of the Union or independence for the Confederacy. As of January 1861, seven Southern slave states individually declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America.[1] The United States of America we have now defeated the Confederate (slave) states and declared slavery illegal. The cost of that war in terms of lives and money is a bigger debt than Black Americans can pay to their country. Although I believe in freedom of speech and freedom of thought, I find the idea of reparations to Black Americans not far from treason.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...

2. No one can say who the guilty party is. If we say that slave owners are guilty of breaking a law, then the people from whom we should seek reparations probably all died before 1950. It might me possible to find an incorporated entity (cotton or tobacco company) that could be traced to specific slaves, this would represent such a small percentage of slaves as to be a pointless lawsuit.

3. It would be difficult to prove actual damages to actual individuals. It would be difficult to trace the true descendants. It would be difficult to determine who would have inherited from their ancestors. These are all things that need to be clearly determined for a legal settlement.

4. There are many Black Americans who are more recent immigrants, or who lived in the Northern States. Are you suggesting the kind of racism that gives a person money solely based on the color of their skin?

5. There are many Black Americans who contribute to society and who pay taxes. Are you suggesting that their taxes be raised so pay a benefit to Black Americans?

6. There are many Americans who immigrated to this country long after the abolition of slavery. Are you suggesting that they be taxed to pay for unsubstantiated damages to their Black neighbors? What toll will this take on race relations?

7. If you are suggesting a tax or payment based on race alone, I suggest we increase taxes for Black Americans” as they are the largest users of our police and prison services. (Not a serious argument, just my response to the horror of race based taxation)

8. If Black Americans want to seek reparations for being captured and sold into slavery, there is much evidence that Africans were the ones capturing and selling slaves. [2]


[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...

I await PROs reasoning for reparations. I specifically am hoping to see a workable system that identifies the following:
a) Who committed the crime, and is responsible to pay damages?
b) Who is the injured party, and should be compensated for their loss?
c) What system will document the alleged damages and alleged compensations?
d) What measures will keep this from being illegally racist?
Debate Round No. 1
Todopoderoso

Pro

Just as I predicted my opponent has very little knowledge of the history of Black Americans.
I don't need a history lesson on the Civil War or Slavery. If my opponent seriously believes that African Americans owe a debt to this country because this country decided to stop selling breeding them as property (legally) and had to fight a war to treat African Americans slightly better than under slavery in the many years that follow I don't know what I could tell him to change his mind. After all this is as logical as increasing taxes on Blacks to pay for the enforcement of the Civil a Rights Act. It is common knowledge that some slaves were captured by other Africans. The fact that some Africans were complicit in the enslavement process would not nullify the need for reparations any more than the fact that some Jews collaborated with Hitler nullifies reparations that were paid out by Germany to Israel.
More important than anything that happened to African Americans during slavery is what we has happened to them in recent history and what continues to happen to them in America today. Black Americans are not entitled to reparations exclusively because of slavery, yes indeed many African Americans that live in this country are descendants of people who immigrated many years after slavery. It is however ridiculous to believe that everything was rainbows and unicorns for black people in this country pre civil rights. There is no respectable scholar that I am aware of that believes African Americans are entitled to reparations based exclusively on Slavery . In any case Blacks deserve reparations because, as the social science tells us they are being legally discriminated against in housing, employment, and in their ability to receive welfare benefits. This is due to the fact that they are being targeted at rates higher that at which they commit crime, this is the new method of control of Blacks in this country by the State. It is called mass incarceration of Black Males many of whom go to jail or prison because of non violent drug offenses. This new method of control of the black population as well as state sanctioned white supremacy, discrimination pre civil rights, and lately the lax enforcement of basic civil rights law is the reason why the State owes reparations to Black Americans. I find it stunning that anyone could argue against reparations for Japanese Americans that were incarcerated by the State. Arguing that reparations for Black Americans would be illegally racist is as ignorant as arguing that the reparations Japanese Americans received after WW2 are racist. Clearly the government violated the rights of Japanese Americans and therefor had to pay reparations to them plain and simple. This is why I don't understand why reparations for Black Americans after the government has overtly violated their rights for the entire history of this country is so controversial to some. According to social scientist the gap between Blacks and Whites in wealth, educational attainment and income can be explained by the state sanctioned discrimination against blacks pre civil rights and the ongoing discrimination against blacks post civil rights in education, housing, employment and so on. The only explanations other than discrimination for the disparities between Blacks and Whites that I hear often are the mildly to overtly racist and baseless arguments made by Jared Taylor (and others in the White Nationalist Movement) and parroted by many conservative outlets about culture and IQ scores that have been endlessly discredited by respectable social scientists.
I would like to conclude this argument by being humble in saying that I don't have all the answers nor do I pretend too. I am no economist by any stretch of the imagination therefor I can't say that I think one method of reparations is better than another, however I can give examples of many ideas proposed by others. I can also state what I am not proposing when I agitate for reparations for the black community. I am not proposing a tax on whites exclusively to be giving as reparations to blacks as a check I am unaware of any serious proponent of such a ridiculous form of reparations . Also I don't propose a tax hike on any income level for the expressed reason of covering reparations for black America. If I hold the position for example of increasing the taxes on the top 10 percent, that position is unchanging regardless on my position on reparations. Proponents of reparations differ in their opinions on how to pay for reparations, but what is certain is that tax hikes are not the only way to pay for reparations. If it was up to me I would make heavy cuts to our military for example. However the question is irrelevant to whether reparations should be payed out since people hold different positions on who should be taxed in general and at what rate, as well as where the government should allocate resources, what programs should be cut, increased, or remain the same, this is a completely different topic. My point is the government owes a debt to black Americans not white people per say just like there was African elites who sold other Africans into slavery other blacks and people of all colors have contributed in the oppression of blacks and other minorities through the government. If you have a problem with paying through taxes for the sins of your government you have a problem with the idea of government in general. To give a simple example, even if you had agitated against the Iraq War it would be ridiculous to then toss your hands up in the air when it came to rebuilding Iraq after your government had crumbled the country into pieces through bombings and the subsequent occupation. This is how representative governments work. Lastly I want to point out that may not know which is the best process for distributing reparations but I know of many good ideas that have been put forward. Such ideas for reparations would be similar to the benefits that veterans of color did not receive but white veterans did as part of the GI Bill or something similar to the Homestead Act. If my opponent finds the idea that black Americans are still being treated unfairly to this day unbelievable, I will be happy to go more into more detail about these injustices. It would be the farthest thing from surprising since pre civil rights 9 out 10 whites told a Gallup Poll that black children had the same opportunity of getting a good education as black children. Today that number is very similar hence I would not be surprised if my opponent has a hard time believing what overwhelming number of blacks tell us.
Sources:
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Numerous books by Tim Wise
Numerous sociology books
gordonjames

Con

At the end of round 1 I asked PRO for the following:

I await PROs reasoning for reparations.
I specifically am hoping to see a workable system that identifies the following:
a) Who committed the crime, and is responsible to pay damages?
b) Who is the injured party, and should be compensated for their loss?
c) What system will document the alleged damages and alleged compensations?
d) What measures will keep this from being illegally racist?

These questions have not been answered or documented.

I add to this request the need for clear sources. I do not have time to read “The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander”, or “Numerous books by Tim Wise” or “Numerous sociology books”. Please reference books (with page numbers) or reputable web content with links.


Since PRO has put forward no reasoning for reparations to Black Americans I will resond to some of PROs statements in round 2, and then explain why I feel reparatations for Black Americans are a terrible idea.

+++++++++++++++++++

Pro states that
“The fact that some Africans were complicit in the enslavement process would not nullify the need for reparations any more than the fact that some Jews collaborated with Hitler nullifies reparations that were paid out by Germany to Israel.”

- My statement about African participation in the slave trade had to do with the difficulty of answering the questions “Who is the guilty party?” and “What crime did they commit?
Before the details of reparations can be discussed, we need to know who broke the law. The case of Germany paying reparations to Israel is helpful here. The German government had as official policy, the extermination of the Jews. Here are some interesting facts.
Germany lost the war. They were forced to pay by the winners.
The German government agreed to this within 10 years of the end of WW2[1]
The purpose was to “finance the absorption and rehabilitation of the Holocaust survivors in Israel”

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...

Since there are no living former slaves or first generation descendants of slaves, the concept of reparations for slavery is untenable. The thirteenth amendment, abolishing slavery except as punishment for a crime, was passed by the Senate in April 1864, and by the House of Representatives in January 1865. [2] It has been 150 years since those great events. The idea of reparations for slavery can be dismissed as ancient history. (I’ll deal with recent events later.) Can we agree that there is no legal foundation for reparations for slavery?

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...


Pro states:
“More important than anything that happened to African Americans during slavery is what we has happened to them in recent history and what continues to happen to them in America today. ”

This (if true and documented) has more relevance in a legal discussion than actions alleged that are well past the statute of limitations. In American law there are time limits for seeking justice that vary between Federal law and State law, and vary state by state. For example, some offenses may be prosecuted at any time (no statute of limitations) such as terrorism, child abduction, sex offenses and capital offenses.[3]

[3] http://fas.org... page 2

“Although the majority of federal crimes are governed by the general five year statute of
limitations, Congress has chosen longer periods for specific types of crimes
– 20 years for the theft of art work;
10 years for arson, for certain crimes against financial institutions, and for immigration offenses; and eight years for the nonviolent violations of the terrorism-associated statutes which may be prosecuted at any time if committed under violent circumstances.
Investigative difficulties or the seriousness of the crime seem to have provided the rationale
for enlargement of the time limit for prosecuting these offenses beyond the five year standard. ”

If crimes have been committed in recent years there is no shortage of lawyers willing to take on individual or class action lawsuits. The fact that there are so few of these is an indication that there is not a mass conspiracy to commit crimes against Black Americans.

PRO states
“many African Americans that live in this country are descendants of people who immigrated many years after slavery”

This states that many expected or found life in America to be better than the life they left behind. The melting pot ideal of American society is that people were welcomed to come here and try to make a better life for themselves than they had in the country and situation they were leaving.

PRO states
“Blacks deserve reparations because, as the social science tells us they are being legally discriminated against in housing, employment, and in their ability to receive welfare benefits. ”

Let’s look at statistics.
Blacks make up 12.6% of the American population. They use 39.8% of all welfare dollars [4]
Blacks are more likely to be unemployed (12.4% unemployed compared to 6.2% overall) [5]
Blacks are less likely to own their own home.(42% compared to 64%) [6]
Blacks are more likely to experience poverty.(28% compared to 15%) [7]


[4] http://www.statisticbrain.com...
[5] http://www.statisticbrain.com...
[6] http://blackdemographics.com...
[7] http://blackdemographics.com...

It is possible that this disparity is because of some form of discrimination, but that is not the only explanation. “Poverty rates are highest for families headed by single women” [8]

[8] http://www.npc.umich.edu...

Of all Blacks in the US, only 32% are married (51% for other races). The lack of family stability for a large percentage of Blacks is enough to challenge the idea that it is a white conspiracy to keep Blacks down.

The claim that “This is due to the fact that they are being targeted at rates higher that at which they commit crime” is unsubstantiated conjecture.


PRO mentions reparations for Japanese Americans.
“Arguing that reparations for Black Americans would be illegally racist is as ignorant as arguing that the reparations Japanese Americans received after WW2 are racist.”

The Justice Department made $20,000 payments to 82,210 Japanese Americans or their heirs who were interned in American camps during World War II. [9]
This was reparation to citizens who were wrongfully locked up within the last 75 years. They had committed no crime, but were locked up because of fear and an anti Japan frenzy after the bombing of Pearl harbor. This sets a good precedent for reparations because there is one specific wrong (incarceration in camps) against citizens who had committed no crime. The people were easy to identify, as was the guilty party (Justice Department). Although race was an issue in the offense, race was not the issue in the reparations.

[9] http://www.democracynow.org...

PRO states
I don't understand why reparations for Black Americans after the government has overtly violated their rights for the entire history of this country is so controversial

Your lack of understanding is a part of the issue.

You have not stated the things necessary for a legal case for damages.
There needs to be a crime - what specifically was done. Prejudice of thought is not enough.
There needs to be a defendant - who did this criminal act.
There needs to be a victim of the crime. Black America is to vague a concept for legal action.
There needs to be proof of damages done.

It is not enough to feel that a portion of society are disadvantaged.
It is not enough to show a disparity of wealth or opportunity based on race.

Please state your case in favor of reparations.


PRO makes yet another unsubstantiated claim . . .
“The gap between Blacks and Whites in wealth, educational attainment and income can be explained by the state sanctioned discrimination against blacks pre civil rights and the ongoing discrimination against blacks post civil rights in education, housing, employment and so on”

You are correct that there was segregation and discrimination in the past. I am less convinced that there is state sanctioned discrimination in the present. Not every issue between a Black American and individuals or departments in Government has to do with race.

PRO states
If it was up to me I would make heavy cuts to our military”

This is a terrible idea. The US military is a preferential employer of Black Americans. Blacks make up 12.6 % of the population[10], but over 20% of the military[11].

[10] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[11] http://www.statisticbrain.com...


I applaud when those who have been wronged use the courts to get justice. I am sure there are many individual cases where a Black individual has a case against government, business or another individual. This is the normal process of civil litigation. There are also class action suits where a group of people are represented because of damages incurred by many, but where the legal case is brought on behalf of the group. The vague and poorly defined idea of reparations for Black Americans is not one of these cases.


Please give a clear presentation on the legal issues of reparations for Black Americans as a group.
Debate Round No. 2
Todopoderoso

Pro

Todopoderoso forfeited this round.
gordonjames

Con


In the absence of a round 3 argument from PRO I will be brief.



First a quick recap of my position.



I am against unnecessary lawsuits and “victim culture” in general.


I oppose reparations for Black Americans for moral, legal and practical reasons.



Morally




  • We do not have a clear individual, corporation or group of people at fault.


    Simply benefiting from the government that is in place is not enough to assign damages.


    We do not want a judgement AGAINST an innocent party.




  • We do not have a clear picture of damages against individuals currently living.


    Most often these damages are discussed by comparison to other (usually White upper class) individuals. Why not compare them to White people from a poor background. To compare them to the mean or median American citizen is inappropriate for several reasons.


    We do not want a judgement FOR a party with no valid claim.




  • There are groups that have a more clear case that they are victims of discrimination.


    Native Americans had their land taken by conquest and encroachment.


    Women continue to have lower pay for the same job.


    Illegal immigrants are used for jobs we don't want, but are denied citizenship.


    We want JUSTICE FOR clear examples of discrimination.




  • Handouts have not been proven to help people long term.


    The best way to help all people who are in trouble with the law is legal and prison reform.


    The best way to help people in poverty is with more opportunities for jobs and education.


    The best way to help people out of bad neighborhoods is with jobs and education.





Legally




  • Who is legally responsible for breaking a law?




  • What law was broken?




  • What are appropriate damages?




  • Who is legally entitled to receive damages?





Practical – I assume you want a government payout to all blacks who have family roots as American citizens. I also assume you will suggest a time period like 100 years to avoid recent immigrants from claiming this prize.




  • How do you want to pay for this?


    Remember that government funds are actually your tax dollars. How much are you willing to pay every year in your taxes?




  • The system of yearly benefits and cash payouts to Canadian Native People is a failure. It seems to reinforce a ghetto mindset that reduces work opportunities are reduces academic achievement.




  • Give some suggestions for how a system of reparations would be administered.




Happy New Year!


Debate Round No. 3
Todopoderoso

Pro

Todopoderoso forfeited this round.
gordonjames

Con

I was really hoping to hear the logic of why some think there should be reparations for Black Americans.

Since PRO has forfrighted this debate I am hoping to see a similar topic debated in the future.

Vote CON
Debate Round No. 4
Todopoderoso

Pro

Todopoderoso forfeited this round.
gordonjames

Con

I was really hoping to hear the logic of why some think there should be reparations for Black Americans.

Since PRO has forfeited this debate I am hoping to see a similar topic debated in the future.
Debate Round No. 5
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by RightSideRising 1 year ago
RightSideRising
I m debating this topic with a few members of my debate class. I have chosen the neg side of this argument, where reparations are not due. I need some more facts for the aff side of this argument
Posted by gordonjames 2 years ago
gordonjames
Merry Christmas to all
Posted by gordonjames 2 years ago
gordonjames
Hey Todopoderoso

I am hoping for at least 3 things from you in this debate,

1. Put forward you arguments in a clear manner.
Your "great wall of text" format is hard to read.
I still don't know why (clear point form reasoning) you want reparations,
Who will receive them?
Who will pay for them?
What legal reasoning will you use for your position?

2. Please avoid a confrontational approach.
Starting your round 2 with "Just as I predicted my opponent has very little knowledge of the history of Black Americans" may be true, but you will lose you points for conduct in the debate. I am a white Canadian who took the debate because I am offended by the victim culture and pointless litigation of people who are either too stupid or too lazy to work for their own advancement. In the Canadian culture this is not a race issue, but a class issue. This is why I am opposed to reparations for issues of ancient history where there are no living slaves of first generation descendants of slaves. Your claim that "social science tells us they are being legally discriminated against in housing, employment, and in their ability to receive welfare benefits" is interesting. You may want to note that "ability to receive welfare benefits" makes your argument seem like you want a free ride for Blacks.

3. Please cite references for your claims.
you say "the fact that they are being targeted at rates higher that at which they commit crime"
if this is true, (rather than blacks are committing more crimes) you need to state this and provide evidence /reference that can be checked out.
Posted by noclue411 2 years ago
noclue411
Wonderful answer that Japasnese Americans received reparations. Here are the facts of those reparations:

"It was five more years before Congress passed the Civil Liberties Act. The act provided monetary reparations to surviving internees and their families, as well as created a fund to educate the public about the internment and "prevent the recurrence of any similar event." Around 60,000 surviving Japanese Americans received payments of $20,000 each.: http://www.civilrights.org...

The key words are - "Surviving Japanese" I would add that the amount likely did not adequately make up for the losses.

I do not hear anyone who defends reparations for forced white servants either. These were white kids forced here from areas like Ireland. I may be a descendant?

"Not all European servants were sent willingly. Several instances of kidnapping for transportation to the Americas are recorded and this falls more clearly into the category of "white slavery". While these white slaves were often indentured in the same way as their willing counterparts it is an important distinction. An illustrative example is that of Peter Williamson (1730"1799). As historian Richard Hofstadter pointed out, "Although efforts were made to regulate or check their activities, and they diminished in importance in the eighteenth century, it remains true that a certain small part of the white colonial population of America was brought by force, and a much larger portion came in response to deceit and misrepresentation on the part of the spirits [recruiting agents]."[9]" http://en.wikipedia.org...

What say you about Black slave owners? William Ellison comes to mind. There were many other black slave owners as well. Should that not constitute that blacks contribute to funding any reparations paid?
http://www.theroot.com...
Posted by Vajrasattva-LeRoy 2 years ago
Vajrasattva-LeRoy
If there's nobody alive today who was a slave,
& nobody alive today who owned any slaves,
why should anybody pay, or receive, reparations for slavery?
"Unfairness" doesn't exist.
Posted by Todopoderoso 2 years ago
Todopoderoso
The reason why nobody is speaking about reparations for Japanese Americans is because Japanese Americans received reparations after WW2 , and no there is not only one culture as you put it that wants hand outs I am not Black and want reparations for Black Americans I will address the rest of the points made in the comment section in my next argument I post in this debate
Posted by noclue411 2 years ago
noclue411
My family immigrated here within the last 60 years; well after slavery. I am opposed to the idea that reparations would be forced upon me to pay all while my family had no part in slavery.

No living black person was a slave.

Many blacks were not in this country or descendants of blacks who were slaves. What would be the factor used for entitlement to avoid payout to individuals who were no more affected by slavery than myself?

Do we not then owe Japanese Americans the same reparations that were incarcerated during world war two and why are we not hearing about that? I contend that only one culture has promoted the idea of handouts in the form of reparations when many others have been through similar hardship. Why is that?
Posted by Dilara 2 years ago
Dilara
There are blacks who immigrated here after slavery and whites whose ancestors fought in the civil war to free slaves. No reperations. If anything money put into programs that help black people with education so they can get good jobs and make money off them.
Posted by Todopoderoso 2 years ago
Todopoderoso
Conservative 101 please debate me I would like to take apart all your weak arguments one at a time
Posted by Conservative101 2 years ago
Conservative101
Reparations for what? Existing?
No votes have been placed for this debate.