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What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

Does Senator Obama support reparations? And if so, should he be a recipient?

To answer the first question, It seems so from what Senator Obama isquoted as saying in this article:

"There's no doubt that when it comes to our treatment of Native Americans as well as other persons of color in this country, we've got some very sad and difficult things to account for."

"I personally would want to see our tragic history, or the tragic elements of our history, acknowledged,"

"I consistently believe that when it comes to whether it's Native Americans or African-American issues or reparations, the most important thing for the U.S. government to do is not just offer words, but offer deeds."


Given his own ethnic background and citizenship, would Senator Obama be a recipient or provider of reparations? Although he is of African descent, he is not a descendant of American slaves. He father was Kenyan. If Kenya participated in the slave trade by selling slaves to Westerners, then clearly the Senator should be on the provider end of reparations. However, even if it is the case that Kenya had nothing to do with the slave trade, Senator Obama's lack of American slave heritage should at least mean that he should not take advantage of any preferential treatment programs that were instituted to remedy past injustices against the descendants of American slaves. Of course, he is technically an "African American," and thus could correctly check that box on an application. But is it morally right for him to do that given the intent and purpose of these programs?

So, here's the questions that I think ought to be asked of Senator Obama in light of the above comments:

1. Have you ever benefited from an affirmative action program because of your race?

2. Given the fact that these programs were instituted to remedy past injustices to, and their affects upon, the descendants of American slaves, was it right for you to have taken something (assuming he answered "yes" to the first question) that should have gone to the next qualified applicant that was denied the benefit because it was given to you?

Comments (4)

OK - one more Obama post and I'm outta here.

"OK - one more Obama post and I'm outta here."

Does that mean you won't stick around for the streaming video feeds of McCain's Town-Hall Meetings? I'm so excited, I can't sleep.

The Volokh Conspiracy has an interesting post about a NY Times piece on Senator Obama's years as a law professor. After losing his 2000 congressional race, Obama was apparently offered a position with tenure at the University of Chicago's law school despite not having published ANY legal scholarship at that point (he declined the offer). This led one commenter to speculate that affirmative action played a large role in the U of C's offer. Eugene Volokh chimed in with the following:

If it was race-based preferences at work -- which is quite possible -- then what's telling is the magnitude of the preference. Here a research institution that prides itself on its scholarly productivity is hiring with tenure someone with zero scholarly publications. It's not choosing among several candidates who all possess stellar qualifications under normal standards. It's not a mild preference. It's not looking closely at a black applicant's file to make sure he hasn't been disadvantaged by subconscious bias in applying the normal criteria. ...If you're right that this was "an example of affirmative action" -- quite possible -- then it's exactly the sort of race-based preference that foes of race preferences point to, and that defenders of race preferences say doesn't really happen.

Those two questions are easy ones, Mr. Beckwith. In truth, if you were to ask them, you'd indignantly be accused of racism first of all, but assuming that we reside in some alternate reality in which they would be answered frankly, the answers would be:

1: Yes.
2: No, of course not. AA doesn't and can't remedy past wrongs, but strives to correct current race-based inequities in American society. Since Obama is dark-skinned, he labors under those disabilities as much as any descendant of American slaves, and is therefore entitled to the benefits of AA.

Now, I don't agree with this reasoning, but neither did I invent it. While the strained tolerance for affirmative action among the body of American whites depends on them accepting it as a form of communal reparations for past wrongs, that is not the sole or chief rationale its defenders use. They prefer to describe it as an open-ended means of ensuring diversity, which is good in and of itself, and as an attack on so-called structural racism.

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