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Author Topic: Baltimore, "Black culture" and satire as a tool of enlightenment
Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
quote:
That's fine, then we can by all means discuss them. I'm just saying that has nothing to do with slavery.
That's most of what I was talking about from the very start. Somewhere along the way my argument got truncated. But if I spotted you all of slavery and said I'm not arguing for reparations for that, only for stuff that happened after, I'd still have a very solid argument for my case.

I actually think that case would be stronger. As I noted, and as KoM has also argued, slavery was in general a losing proposition for *most* of society, and for the nation as a whole. One is not really able to tally the positives and negatives in any common terms, just as one is not really able to say what wealth or potential economic development slavery erased or repressed, but we can be sure that in the end, with the coming of the civil war and reconstruction, slavery probably had a net negative impact on the south: economic, social, and other.

That that negative was borne most by blacks is obvious of course, but the negatives extend also to many of the whites; particularly to the unlanded ones. And in the wake of the war and of reconstruction, the punishment or degradation meted out to at least some of the whites was punishment in as proportionate a manner as feasible (death in battle, loss of land and wealth, etc).

In any regard, if one were to construct a legal argument in favor of restitution, one would have to avoid setting the precedent of punishing or requiring remuneration for acts which were not illegal when they were carried out. Reparations for activities before the passage of the 13th amendment face the impassible obstacle of their being for acts not then seen as illegal.

Of course, very many of those who benefited from pre-war arrangements, continued to benefit from virtually the same arrangements post-war, with only minor pro fascia changes to the labor economy. If you really hope to actually chart the degree to which reparations are owed, I think you have to start with the end of slavery.

The actions of slave owners pre-war were then in accord with the constitution and with contemporary laws. When the 13th amendment was fully ratified (after the war ended keep in mind), slavery also formally ended. And from a legal standpoint, that is when the abuses for which punishment might reasonably be assessed were begun. This ignores, of course, the complicated legal situation of the South during its rebellion, during which Lincoln applied the War Powers clause, and the Emancipation Declaration, effectually turning slavery into a crime against humanity by a sovereign nation he didn't officially recognize.

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Lyrhawn
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I agree with you in the sense that starting post-slavery is easier and the case is stronger (and more easily made).

But I have a problem with not making restitution for things that were legal at the time. You'd basically have to handwave away most of what was done to blacks in the pre-1960s era. Redlining was legal. Underfunding black schools was legal. For that matter, segregation was legal, not only legal but MANDATED in many places. Multiracial marriage was illegal.

In many places, it was illegal for a black person to leave the county he lived in if he owed a debt, which basically EVERY sharecropper did. In effect, it was illegal to leave the plantations they lived and sharecropped on for millions of blacks. When many made the journey north near the turn of the century looking for jobs, they actually had to sneak out of the South using the same abolitionist routes escaping slaves used because the police could (and would) legally hunt them down and return them to their farms.

All perfectly legal. All in the last 100 years.

To say we can't mete out remuneration for acts that were legal at the time is basically to say no to reparations in general.

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Elison R. Salazar
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And to show that Canada doesn't have a good history either.

quote:

Residential schools findings point to 'cultural genocide,' commission chair says

Final report from Truth and Reconciliation Commission to be released June 2

At least 6,000 aboriginal children died while in the residential school system, says Justice Murray Sinclair, the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Sinclair, who has been tasked with studying the legacy of the residential schools, says that the figure is just an estimate and is likely much higher. Residential schools were established in the 19th century and the last ones closed in 1996.

"We think that we have not uncovered anywhere near what the total would be because the record keeping around that question was very poor," Sinclair told Rosemary Barton of CBC's Power & Politics. "You would have thought they would have concentrated more on keeping track."

Sinclair offered the figure of 6,000 in a later interview with Evan Solomon to air Saturday on CBC Radio's The House much higher than earlier estimates that put the number of school children who died in the system at less than 4,000, but still possibly far short of the real outcome.

Sinclair, who was Manitoba's first aboriginal judge, said one estimate made in the early part of the 20th century was that 24 to 42 per cent of aboriginal children who attended the residential schools died at school or shortly after leaving school.

Most of the children died from malnourishment or disease. Some children who attended the schools in the 1940s and 1950s were even subjected to science experiments in which they were deprived essential nutrients and dental care.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, struck in 2009, is writing an exhaustive history of the residential school system. The commissioners interviewed over 7,000 people, and the final report, which is expected to be released on June 2, will span six volumes and include over two million words.

'Cultural genocide'

The new death toll comes in the wake of comments made by Beverley McLachlin, the chief justice of the Supreme Court. At an event on Thursday, McLachlin said that Canada attempted to commit "cultural genocide" against aboriginal peoples.

"The most glaring blemish on the Canadian historic record relates to our treatment of the First Nations that lived here at the time of colonization," McLachlin said. She was delivering the fourth annual Pluralism Lecture of the Global Centre for Pluralism, founded in 2006 by the Aga Khan, spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims, and the federal government.

Canada, she said, developed an "ethos of exclusion and cultural annihilation."

Sinclair said he agrees with McLachlin's characterization of the country's history.

"I think as commissioners we have concluded that cultural genocide is probably the best description of what went on here. But more importantly, if anybody tried to do this today, they would easily be subject to prosecution under the genocide convention," Sinclair told Evan Solomon of CBC Radio's The House.

"The evidence is mounting that the government did try to eliminate the culture and language of indigenous people for well over a hundred years. And they did it by forcibly removing children from their families and placing them within institutions that were cultural indoctrination centres.

"That appears to us to fall within the definition of genocide under the UN convention," Sinclair said.

The United Nations' convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide does not address "cultural genocide," but it says genocide may include causing "mental harm" to a racial or religious group.

A spokesperson for Bernard Valcourt, the minister of aboriginal affairs, would not comment on the chief justice's remarks, but issued a statement saying, "While we cannot undo the past, we can learn from it and we have taken the steps necessary to bring closure to the legacy of the Indian residential schools."

Policy of 'aggressive assimilation'

In the 19th century, the Canadian government developed a policy of "aggressive assimilation" calling for aboriginal children to be taught at church-run, government-funded residential schools.

The government felt children were easier to mould than adults, and the concept of a boarding school was the best way to prepare them for life in mainstream society.

Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, was a strong proponent of the system.

"When the school is on the reserve, the child lives with his parents who are savages; he is surrounded by savages, and though he may learn to read and write, his habits and training and mode of thought are Indian. He is simply a savage who can read and write," he told the House of Commons in 1883.

The last residential schools, St. Michael's Indian Residential School and Gordon Indian Residential School, both located in Saskatchewan, closed in 1996.

In 2008, Prime Minister Harper made a historic apology for the harm caused by the residential school system.


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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
I agree with you in the sense that starting post-slavery is easier and the case is stronger (and more easily made).

But I have a problem with not making restitution for things that were legal at the time. You'd basically have to handwave away most of what was done to blacks in the pre-1960s era.

Well, this is essentially what we already do. And I would caution not that I think it's a good thing, but rather it is too dangerous to consider retroactive assessment of damages for crimes that were not crimes. That is in itself highly questionable, and unconstitutional.

Legally, you have to dance with the one that brung you.

quote:
In many places, it was illegal for a black person to leave the county he lived in if he owed a debt, which basically EVERY sharecropper did. In effect, it was illegal to leave the plantations they lived and sharecropped on for millions of blacks. When many made the journey north near the turn of the century looking for jobs, they actually had to sneak out of the South using the same abolitionist routes escaping slaves used because the police could (and would) legally hunt them down and return them to their farms.

All perfectly legal. All in the last 100 years.

To say we can't mete out remuneration for acts that were legal at the time is basically to say no to reparations in general.

As I understand it, and this is not my strong area of knowledge, many of those laws were later deemed unconstitutional to begin with. You can retroactively assess damage of that nature because the laws under which the abuses were carried out were not necessarily legiminate.

You *couldn't* punish the officials who acting according to those laws, in most cases, but you could assess damage to the states and counties that perpetrated them. That's a difficult road in itself, but it was done, for example, with Japanese internment camps.

[ June 01, 2015, 11:21 AM: Message edited by: Orincoro ]

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
quote:
Yeah things are pretty easy when they don't bother to be substantive.
Are you actually that lacking in self-awareness, or are you trying to be funny?
You don't get that what you were doing doesn't exactly work as a pinch hit against what I was saying. "This would be an easy thing to dismiss" is a lot different than just saying "I just dismissed it! Wasn't that easy"

The fact of the matter stands. I presented a pretty good case for an example of effective and meaningful reparations over an injustice that was enacted by and initially suffered by now-dead people. If you both don't agree with that AND only want to offer "No it isn't I dismissed it like that poof" then you are neither being funny nor demonstrating better self awareness, so you might at least want to put in the effort for why you disagree beyond nuh-uhism.

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scifibum
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quote:
Well, this is essentially what we already do. And I would caution not that I think it's a good thing, but rather it is too dangerous to consider retroactive assessment of damages for crimes that were not crimes. That is in itself highly questionable, and unconstitutional.
Are you assuming that reparations will involve punishment for certain offenders or their descendants, rather than being something we fund collectively.
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
I agree with you in the sense that starting post-slavery is easier and the case is stronger (and more easily made).

But I have a problem with not making restitution for things that were legal at the time. You'd basically have to handwave away most of what was done to blacks in the pre-1960s era.

Well, this is essentially what we already do. And I would caution not that I think it's a good thing, but rather it is too dangerous to consider retroactive assessment of damages for crimes that were not crimes. That is in itself highly questionable, and unconstitutional.

Legally, you have to dance with the one that brung you.

quote:
In many places, it was illegal for a black person to leave the county he lived in if he owed a debt, which basically EVERY sharecropper did. In effect, it was illegal to leave the plantations they lived and sharecropped on for millions of blacks. When many made the journey north near the turn of the century looking for jobs, they actually had to sneak out of the South using the same abolitionist routes escaping slaves used because the police could (and would) legally hunt them down and return them to their farms.

All perfectly legal. All in the last 100 years.

To say we can't mete out remuneration for acts that were legal at the time is basically to say no to reparations in general.

As I understand it, and this is not my strong area of knowledge, many of those laws were later deemed unconstitutional to begin with. You can retroactively assess damage of that nature because the laws under which the abuses were carried out were not necessarily legiminate.

You *couldn't* punish the officials who acting according to those laws, in most cases, but you could assess damage to the states and counties that perpetrated them. That's a difficult road in itself, but it was done, for example, with Japanese internment camps.

I see what you're saying, and if we're going by similar parameters to what was done for Japanese internment, yes, I'd agree with you.

But I was thinking less in terms of back payments to victims or families of victims than I was a national effort and investment in more fundamental change. Because frankly it's just easier.

Even if we decided tomorrow that direct reparations were something we wanted to do, it'd take decades to sort it all out, at the end of which half the country would likely, for whatever reasons, still think the process was unfair. And for all that, the money might never add up to widespread, overall improvement of their situation.

I think it'd be better spent on huge, fundamental changes. That, of course, is just my opinion. Perhaps the money would be better spent with plain direct cash payments, but a national spending program would be much, much faster to implement. I think the next generation to grow up in poverty would rather the process be faster if it meant a better life than wait and have the money be handed directly to them.

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Dogbreath
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To add to your point, I think there are two additional reasons why cash payouts are probably a bad solution.

Before I get into that, we should take a second to address the fact that not all black people have been equally impacted by the effects of systemic racism and generational poverty.

- And seeing that this is a thread where there has been a lot of jumping to conclusions and reading into ulterior motives with relatively simple statements (and I've done more than my fair share too), so let me ask that what I say here be read at face value. I'll go into *why* I'm bringing it up later in the post, but as a disclaimer I bring it up to discuss the efficacy of reparations, not the morality or justification thereof. -

Black people as a group certainly *have* been deleteriously and severely impacted across the board by institutional racism. Due to this, they suffer from the highest rate of poverty by ethnic group in the United States: 27.4% of blacks are in poverty compared to 9.9% of whites, and most strikingly, 38.2% of black children live in poverty which is incredibly disproportionate to the 12.4% of white children who live in poverty. (think about what that means regarding social mobility)

Nonetheless, the fact is the majority of black people are not in poverty, and I feel in this thread we have in many ways conflated the two issues. I say this because there are a lot more ways in which discrimination has negatively impacted the lives of blacks in the US, and for the majority of black people - poverty is not the biggest issue personally. I would say it's the most *pressing* issue and the one that needs to be addressed first, but it's not the only one. And here's why this matters:

1) Paying out a certain dollar amount in reparations gives the impression (or indeed, the legal exoneration of sorts) that justice has been done and therefore no further action needs be taken. And you see some of this mentality with modern conservatives - "the civil rights movement was 50 years ago, we already have equality, shut up already!" And this is why I'm so adamantly opposed to such concepts of "guilt" or "reparations" in this sense: we need to keep enacting changes until justice is achieved in outcome. By which I mean, when you no longer see significant statistical differences in poverty levels, pay, violent crime rates, police brutality, property ownership, etc. between various ethnic groups. *That* is social justice. (and yes, I know I'm channeling LBJ here) We need to focus less on "how much reparations do we pay until we are no longer guilty" or "what dollar amount can we put down to 'fix' centuries of injustice" but "what are the things we can do now and continue to do *until* we see equality."

More technically:

2) If we're going to focus on poverty (which we should), it's my believe that cash money is not necessarily the greatest factor in or even the greatest solution for poverty. By which I mean, if you were to offer me $100,000 in cash but put me in a situation where I had no job, no education, no marketable skills, no social network to help me *find* a job, no transportation, and no understanding of how to rectify the issues - I would actually be far, far worse off than I am right now. The $100,000 would almost certainly be insufficient just to bring myself up to my current level of employability and income generation, and there's no guarantee I would spend it wisely and judiciously for those purposes. Maybe I would spend it trying to feed my kids, or getting a warm, dry house in a non-violent neighborhood.

The reason I bring this up is because I have a hard time seeing a payout for much more than $100,000 - which would be, even if you only paid to to black people currently in poverty, $800 billion. It would be over $3 trillion if you did a flat rate payment across the board. If you want to talk about a more reasonable number (i.e, that could even remotely get passed), talk about maybe $100 billion in reparations - which would barely make a dent in the problem. Quite simply there will never be any equitable reparation payout that *would* solve the problem (which comes down to hundreds of thousands of dollars per person) that could possibly be paid. It's just too expensive.

And this isn't a "the problem's too big, we can't solve it" issue, it's a "the problems too big to remotely solve with reparations, we need to think a little more creatively" issue. Thus - education programs, property renovation, affirmative action in loan management maybe, etc. etc.

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Samprimary
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when it comes down to attempting to come up with what useful concepts of reparation to integrate, I still of course refer to this article

http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/05/the-case-for-reparations/361631/

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Lyrhawn
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Dogbreath - I generally agree with most of your points.

I'll respond at length later.

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King of Men
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quote:
"This would be an easy thing to dismiss" is a lot different than just saying "I just dismissed it! Wasn't that easy"
No, it's exactly the same thing except that if someone calls you on it, you can come back "I meant that there's a trivial dismissal, I just didn't have time to write it down just then". And if nobody calls you on it, you get to "easily dismiss" something. Well, here I am, calling your bluff. Let's see your dismissal. Put up or shut up.

quote:
I presented a pretty good case for an example of effective and meaningful reparations over an injustice that was enacted by and initially suffered by now-dead people.
No, you didn't. You said "X would be a good reparation". You offered no argument for this except "the opposing case is easy to dismiss". That is a simple assertion, which I am entirely comfortable just dismissing; "nuh-uh" to your "uh-huh". If you have an argument, let's hear it. Otherwise, yep, you're going to get "nuh-uh", because that's what your post is worth as it stands.

quote:
By which I mean, when you no longer see significant statistical differences in poverty levels
Suppose, arguendo, that there are statistically significant racial differences in intelligence, even after all environmental factors have been evened out - that is, differences that are not due to lead paint, lack of books in the home, or any other environmental factor, but are purely genetic. Then it seems like you ought to expect differences in poverty even in the fairest possible society, unless you would also level out differences due to intelligence within races. Would you accept such differences?
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
quote:
Well, this is essentially what we already do. And I would caution not that I think it's a good thing, but rather it is too dangerous to consider retroactive assessment of damages for crimes that were not crimes. That is in itself highly questionable, and unconstitutional.
Are you assuming that reparations will involve punishment for certain offenders or their descendants, rather than being something we fund collectively.
If you view reparations as punitive measures, then yes. If you view them as public expenditures, then I suppose not. I am not an expert on the proposals that have been made. I think I would generally be in favor of reparations as public expenditures in the form of educational and housing funds.

quote:
Lyrhawn: Even if we decided tomorrow that direct reparations were something we wanted to do, it'd take decades to sort it all out, at the end of which half the country would likely, for whatever reasons, still think the process was unfair. And for all that, the money might never add up to widespread, overall improvement of their situation.

I think it'd be better spent on huge, fundamental changes. That, of course, is just my opinion.

With which I generally agree. But there are fine lines between expenditure for economic development (which I think is needed and fair), and punitive measures, or even measures that may be seen as punitive. By your lights, we might as well become a socialized country to address deep racial inequalities, and do away entirely with who is really to blame. I would still agree with you, but you can see where some would take that line of reasoning, and why they would object to it. To wit: many black people would see this as a mere obviation of white responsibility for institutional racism because it *isn't* punitive and also, conservatives would see it as a socialism, which is what it is. I have no innate problem with socialism, other than the pragmatic knowledge that it is not politically feasible in the United States right now.

[ June 02, 2015, 03:54 AM: Message edited by: Orincoro ]

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
[QUOTE]it's exactly the same thing except that if someone calls you on it, you can come back "I meant that there's a trivial dismissal, I just didn't have time to write it down just then".

so then it's exactly the same thing, except it ...isn't exactly the same thing

ok

thank you

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Samprimary
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anyway, reparations to a class of people that are based off of correction of rights, property, or land entitlements whose current order of possession is the direct product of clear discrimination, is meaningful at bare minimum in that it can help correct an inherited socioeconomic pattern. Take land, property, and rights necessary to secure an equal potential economic situation to the racial majority away from a group, and it is entirely unsurprising that they will be navigated down a road that maximizes the potential exploitation of that group. To return land that was clearly unfairly taken from a tribe in an established pattern of treaty annulment is an easier example than most, since land allows property rights, individual agricultural or industrial use, mineral and water rights, to be returned to the controlling authority of a group that should have had it in the first place even by U.S. law at the time. If I'm the controlling business interest/owner of some land that might go back to a tribe that has successfully petitioned for reparations, it would be a pretty stupid and desperate argument to say "no, that's not meaningful reparations" or "no, there's no victims here because it happened so long ago" especially if circumstances had changed well enough that I couldn't pull a BLM on them and try to limit their options for utilizing the land. I would just be trying to prevent reparations from occurring so that I could continue profiting off of a situation I get to inherit because of past intentional crimes.

Coates' excellent article which again should be read again and again unsurprisingly hammers home the importance of real estate discrimination and how, again, the correction of a lopsided set of economic standards based on a clear and evident discriminatory pattern (illegal, even) can be meaningfully corrected, if we just wanted to. We'll just see if we can get away with not, because we're like that.

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