By Jon Dougherty
(NationalSentinel) A black columnist for Quillette online magazine and an admitted Democrat voter was booed by some in the gallery on Wednesday during a House committee hearing on slavery reparations because he is opposed to them.
Coleman Hughes testified that forcing taxpayers to pay reparations to blacks at this point in our history — 170-odd years after the institution of slavery was ended by the Civil War and subsequent constitutional amendments — would be inherently divisive and fail to address the real problems facing today’s black community.
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He was also critical of the committee’s reparations hearing in general, which was called to consider legislation that would establish a “reparations committee” to study the issue.
“I worry that our desire to fix the past compromises our ability to fix the president,” Hughes noted. “Think about what we’re doing today: We’re spending our time debating a bill that mentions slavery 25 times, but incarceration only once in an era with no black slaves but nearly a million black prisoners.”
“I’m not saying that acknowledging history doesn’t matter, it does,” Hughes continued. “I’m saying there’s a difference between acknowledging history and allowing history to distract us from the problems we face today.”
He went onto note that the House of Representatives “formally apologized” for slavery in 2008, with the Senate doing so the following year.
“Black people don’t need another apology,” Hughes said. “We need safer neighborhoods and better schools. We need a less punitive criminal justice system. We need affordable healthcare. And none of these things can be achieved through reparations for slavery.”
Cue the boos.
Hughes said he was told by many of his friends not to testify because though he’s always voted for Democrats, he “would be perceived as a Republican” for opposing reparations and thus anger “half the country.” He added that by distancing himself from the GOP, he would “anger the other half of the country.”
“The sad truth is, they were both right,” he said. “That’s how suspicious we’ve become of one another. That’s how divided we are as a nation.
“If we were to pay reparations today, we would only divide the country further,” the columnist said, “making it harder to form the political coalitions required to solve the problems facing black people today.
“We would insult many black Americans by putting a price on the suffering of their ancestors,” he said. “And we would turn the relationship between black Americans and white Americans from a coalition into a transaction. From a union between citizens into a lawsuit between plaintiffs and defendants.”
Hughes went onto suggest that reparations should be paid only to blacks who grew up under “Jim Crow” laws and who “were directly harmed by second-class citizenship…like my grandparents.”
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10
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