15
   

Bernie wants a revolution! But let's not get crazy, right?

 
 
snood
 
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2016 10:51 am
I want to address the Bernie advocates. I want to challenge them on something that has been brought up lately in the news and has caused quite a bit of back and forth in the public domain, but has not caused a ripple on A2K.

I'm talking about Ta-Nehisi Coates' (indirect, because Bernie won't answer Coates' attempts to talk directly) question to Bernie - namely
"Why don't you support reparations?" The Bernie supporters quickly began their flaming of discussion boards and social media with their answers to that question. Those answers are generally these two:
1) This is a total attempt to smear Bernie by the minions of Hillary (they sometimes try to say Coates is a Hillary plant). It is a bogus question about
a bogus, made-up issue, just to make Bernie look bad.
0r,
2) Why does Bernie have to answer this question? No other candidate - expecially Hillary - is being required to answer it,
and that should tell you this is an attempt to make the 74 year old white dude look racist, and turn black people against him.

I want to respond to those 'answers', and I would like the Bernie stalwarts here to respond to my responses.

1) Reparations for the ancestors of slaves in the United States may be a painful, uncomfortable and volatile issue, but it is NOT a bogus issue.
For those who really want to understand the issue, and not just continue to argue their preconceived standpoints I will refer you to Coates' excellent and thorough
"The Case For Reparations" http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/05/the-case-for-reparations-an-intellectual-autopsy/371125/

But for the purposes of this forum, I'll just say that it is an issue that at least deserves discussion. It is about addressing a race-based crime with a race-based compensation.
The discussion would take into consideration the monetary value to this country of the lives and labor stolen by chattel slavery and hundreds of years of theft in the form of government sanctioned job, housing and employment discrimination. It wouild at least speak in real terms to the fact that this country could not exist if not for enslavement and forced labor to produce cotton.

Coates is not a Hillary plant, and did not bring this question up to Bernie as a hit job for Hillary. He brought it up for the same reason he has done every thing that he has said and written in the public sphere for 15 years. He was telling the truth and asking questions he wants answers for.

2) Why Bernie, and not Hillary? Simple - as Coates puts it, because people should actually BE what they call themselves. Hillary's opposition to reparations is unsurprising, what with her incremental approach and her loud stance on preserving the gains of the Obama years. She calls herself "a progressive who likes to get things done".
Bernie wants to be a visionary, "radical" and "revolutionary" - but only for some things... not for reparations.
You can't tell me that Bernie hasn't made other
propopsals that are idealistic to the point of straining credulity. He wants replace the ACA after 50 hard fought years getting just that, and replace it with single payer healthcare.
He wants to eliminate all cost to the private sitizen for college education. He wants to federally mandate doubling the minimum wage. But even the
thought of reparations is "too divisive" or too impossible to implement.

Certain of you have in the past gushed about Coates' analyses of racial issues for this generation. He has deserved the praise, because
he has not been wrong in his methodical unpacking of race in America. He is not wrong in his challenge to Bernie's bona fides as a "radical revolutionary", either. It's only when he scrutinizes Bernie's seeming hypocritical assumption of the "revolutionary" mantle - but not for reparations - an issue which could really use a revolutionary.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 15 • Views: 5,323 • Replies: 144

 
snood
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2016 12:36 pm
Nary a peep. Too deep, I guess.
snood
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2016 12:52 pm
@snood,
Well, since no one's responding to my post, here's more thoughts by Ta-Nehisi Coates on Bernie and reparations you can also not read and not comment on:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/01/bernie-sanders-liberal-imagination/425022/
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2016 01:19 pm
@snood,


In Bernie's case, I picked up a few clues early in the campaign. He wants to help black Americans get better jobs and fair treatment before the law, which will help alleviate their situation. It's not reparations but it is more than throwing them a nod and then get back to business as usual.
0 Replies
 
revelette2
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2016 01:47 pm
I don't know about this subject but off hand I will say that I don't think it is feasible, it would actually harm the country by using money we could use on things needed today. I think we should continue with all the civil rights issue (affirmative action and making sure blacks and minorities are not discriminated against in voting booths and that sort of thing) and improve on them and do the things both candidates say. In other words, sorry snood, but I agree with edgar.
0 Replies
 
puzzledperson
 
  3  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2016 01:48 pm
@snood,
I saw Coates interviewed by Chris Hayes on MSNBC. I had to admit that he was surprisingly cogent. I say that despite remaining unconvinced by the reparations argument. (Both slaves and slavemasters are long dead: there is nobody to compensate and nobody to hold financially responsible. So many generations have passed that the logical link connecting past crimes to a financial payout merely by virtue of race is absent.)

Coates asks why Sanders is willing to play Don Quixote on other issues but not on the Black reparations issue. That's a fair question. Let's examine four possible answers:

(1) Sanders doesn't support reparations; but he needs the Black vote in both the Democratic primary and in the general election (assuming he wins the nomination). If he speaks his mind on a tendentious and divisive issue, his campaign will be sidetracked for weeks if not months, just as primary season begins and his campaign needs its message to be focused on the broad issues that appeal to the widest possible voter segment (including but not just limited to Blacks). That is, things like affordable healthcare, livable wages, and jobs.

(2) Sanders is not opposed to reparations but believes that many Whites and Hispanics among the Democratic voter base are hostile to the idea. If he gains Black votes while turning off an even larger demographic segment, he is shooting himself in the foot. As a politician, he believes that getting progressives elected is an essential prerequisite to social and economic change. Therefore, pragmatism requires making difficult but important choices when marketing himself to voters.

(3) Sanders has no axe to grind on the specific issue of reparation; but as an old-fashioned socialist he opposes identity politics on general principles. He believes that the problems that plague society, including but not limited to Black society, are at their heart economic issues. Good paying jobs in the inner-city will raise living standards, decrease drug abuse, offer opportunities for improvement that decrease the appeal of criminality (e.g. drug dealing), and reduce incarceration rates; and as the Black middle-class expands, both their social status and their political voice will strengthen. As an old-fashioned socialist, he believes that only political solidarity will give the movement the focus it needs to accomplish its goals. If it is splintered by identity politics then the big issues (and solidarity) are lost, as each splinter scrambles for its own particular and limited goals. He's been through the racially polarized New Socialism of the seventies, when groups like the Black Panthers, AIM, and the radical feminist movement (White female) took off on their own eccentric orbits, alienating the general population and fracturing Left politics into an incoherent, ineffective collection of disparate special interest groups.

(4) Sanders genuinely believes that his lofty but broadly appealing goals are at least potentially doable, particularly if the Democrats regain control of Congress; but he considers Black reparations to be a pipe dream that can only distract from goals that can be politically accomplished. Whether Sanders is right or wrong about the practicality of either his own pet projects or that of Black reparations isn't the point. Sanders would hardly be the first to have distorted views of the plausibility of his own goals. Just because Coates has a different perspective doesn't make Sanders a liar (though maybe from Coates' perspective a delusional fool).

0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2016 02:01 pm
@snood,
I mean it's just the usual reparations debate foisted on a candidate for attention, there's no particular reason that this is a particularly relevant to Bernie Sanders and given that it does no favors to his political campaign it should not be exceptional that he is not going out of his way to attach himself to it.

Your logic for that seems to boil down to that he is revolutionary vs incremental but I too tend to prefer sweeping change to incremental change and am not personally in support of reparations. I do not agree that being a revolutionary means to support reparations, that is a non sequitur.

Other than that it's just yet another political position that is not getting as much interest as its advocates would wish, there are many thousands more of those. I find the debate about reparations more interesting than the debate on why it's not getting much attention (the answer to that one is obvious, it's deeply unpopular and is unlikely to ever happen).
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  2  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2016 02:03 pm
@snood,
I don't like to be scolded while I'm having breakfast.

Secondly, I'll be reading the earlier thread on the article today, and then will reread the article, having read it last year. I'll see what I think after that.

http://able2know.org/topic/245664-1
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2016 02:15 pm
@snood,
I agree with Osso.

The basic premise of this thread seems to be, since; Since Bernie Sanders is revolutionary in some topics (i.e. economic inequality, and racial disparity in law enforcement) that he is somehow obligated to be revolutionary in all topics.

This basic premise doesn't make sense to me.

Bernie Sanders is pushing forward on several issues that are important. He is addressing many issues in ways that go beyond Hillary (or any other candidate).

- Single Payer health care.
- Racial justice in law enforcement, education and opportunity.
- Campaign finance reform.
- Income inequality.
- Climate Change.

Take Bernie for what he is. He is taking strong, courageous, progressive stands on many issues. The fact that you think there should be one more doesn't take away from this.

(I do think that this is a slick, insincere, talking point from the Hillary establishment.)
maxdancona
 
  5  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2016 02:26 pm
@maxdancona,
I also think that reparations are not only unreasonable, but would also be damaging to us as a nation.

Imagine trying to divide the country between former slaves and former slave owners, not to mention the Americans who are descended from both (and yes, there are many cases that have nothing to do with rape). And then mix in Hispanics (many of whom were treated injustly) and the Chinese and the Native Americans all of whom were treated barbarically through history.

I believe that the way to deal with our history is to invest in the parts of our society that are now disadvantaged now... particularly focusing on educational injustice, law enforcement and economic opportunity.

Bernie seems to agree with this, as is his right. For Mr. Coates, or anyone else, to push their own political agendas on Bernie Sanders is ridiculous.

I would invite Mr Coates, or anyone else, to compare Sanders' record with that of Hillary. He marched on Washington. He was arrested protesting segregation. He has published the most comprehensive statement on racial justice now.
Foofie
 
  -3  
Reply Tue 26 Jan, 2016 03:10 pm
@snood,
snood wrote:

Nary a peep. Too deep, I guess.


I alway read that 40 acres and a mule were the intended reparations. If those freed slaves got cheated, how does being born Black today give a Black person the right to be the creditor of ancestors? There are so many injustices in history that were never resolved, and later generations were limited by the suffering of those prior generations. Perhaps a good example are future generations of those Syrians that wound up in Europe, having to start their economic life from scratch.
maxdancona
 
  3  
Reply Tue 26 Jan, 2016 08:51 pm
@Foofie,
Foofie, This is complete nonsense!

First of all you don't mean "creditor" (which doesn't make any sense), I am pretty sure you mean "beneficiary".

Of course you are the beneficiary of the privilege of your ancestors (and yes, we descendants of European Jews have quite a bit of inherited privilege and financial wealth in modern America). That is the valid part of the argument that Ta-nehisi Coates is making.

White people in American today benefit greatly from the economic power amassed by their descendants during the time of slavery. Much of this power was developed as a direct result of the injustice of slavery. White people still have between 10 and 20 times more wealth that Black Americans (wealth that was created during the time of slavery and passed on from family to family).

Add to that the fact that there is still active economic racism built into the system seen in areas from education, to housing, to law enforcement. White Americans do owe a debt to history.

The discussion here is how to best address this continuing injustice. There is a reasonable discussion on this.

To deny that this injustice exists and continues... or to pretend that it doesn't need to be addressed is pure nonsense.



Foofie
 
  -2  
Reply Wed 27 Jan, 2016 01:54 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

Foofie, This is complete nonsense!



Well, taken from another angle, as Snood stated in another thread, the Confederacy was about slavery. Going with that definition, what was the Union (Army) about? I think it was about limiting the definition of the Confederacy, by victory and then Emancipation. Since 250,000 Union lives were lost due to fighting the Confederacy, one can make an argument that "blood equity" was already the reparations made to Black slaves, so they could be freed.

The fact that there is a great inequality of wealth in this country, based on race, ignores that people of the same background, that are not American Blacks and also have an inequality of wealth. However, they seem to want to stay in the U.S. nevertheless.

And Jews that came from Czarist Russia, which comprises the bulk of American Jews, came here as poor as church mice. Their success came from valuing education/risking capital/knowing how to get non-Jewish customers by offering "a discount" in whatever retail establishment (or pushcart) they had.

By the way, Russian Jews from Czarist Russia were the property of the Czar, just like they were the property of the King in medieval Europe. Even in the Soviet era, Jews had "Jew" on their ID card, as their nationality; they never became Russian.

In my opinion, you are mixing the question of reparations for slavery with the current condition of the American Black demographic. Do you have an explanation for the comparable economic success of the West Indian demographic in NYC? I think it has something to do with having an educational system in the West Indies that is based on the British model, and a level of self-esteem based on not living through the Jim Crow era.

But, all the inequality of wealth is becoming of less concern, as the U.S. is populated by more non-whites of various demographics. American Blacks, in my opinion, might just follow the example of white ethnics that got their first decent employment as a civil servant, and then the next generation got enough education to be employed in the private sector.

And, the initial question of this thread was in context of Bernala not broaching the question of reparations. Why wasn't Hillary kept to the same standard?
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Jan, 2016 02:25 pm
@Foofie,
Do you really think that victims of a holocaust owe "blood equity", expressed economically, to soldiers who war against the people harming them?

This seems rather obscene to me.
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Jan, 2016 05:38 am
@maxdancona,
I always believed that many social programs including affirmative action were our country's financial and social responses to the lasting results of slavery. I wouldn't say the debt has been paid. I would say the debt for slavery can never be paid.

Have any of the other former slave-owning countries handled this issue appropriately?
Setanta
 
  5  
Reply Thu 28 Jan, 2016 07:16 am
@Lash,
I have always found Britain's attitude both amusing an disgusting. They "abolished slavery" in the 1830s, with Parliament buying the freedom of the African slaves in the West Indies. You find Brits online taking a high moral tone on this when addressing Americans. Of course, those sugar plantations still needed to be worked, and they were a major source of British revenue. What was their solution? They rounded up entire villages of coolies in India and had them sign indenture contracts. These were, of course, illiterate peasants. They were shipped off to the West Indies, British Honduras (now called Belize) and Guyana, where they replaced to former slaves. They were, for all practical purposes, slaves. So the Brits ended African slavery. I won't make th is too long. France's record was not much better. Slavery had always been illegal in the Spanish colonies, but enforcement was lax. The worst of the bunch, though, were the Belgians. The Dutch had some slave colonies, but they made their money in the slave trade. It was a Dutch ship that first brought Africans to the North American English colonies in 1609.
revelette2
 
  3  
Reply Thu 28 Jan, 2016 07:52 am
@Lash,
The debt has not been paid because bigotry still exist. Those same types of people who discriminated against blacks (Where ever they come from) would still do it today unless there was something in place to prevent it and a way to address it if is not prevented.
0 Replies
 
Foofie
 
  -1  
Reply Thu 28 Jan, 2016 02:47 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

Do you really think that victims of a holocaust owe "blood equity", expressed economically, to soldiers who war against the people harming them?

This seems rather obscene to me.



You seem to be miscontruing my thoughts. I never talked about Jews in the Holocaust. Nor, can I equate Black slavery to genocide against Jews. European Jewry is a skeleton of what it was prior to WWII. American Blacks suffered inhumane treatment; but let's not call it pre-meditated genocide. Talk to someone else, please.
maxdancona
 
  3  
Reply Thu 28 Jan, 2016 03:14 pm
@Foofie,
Quote:
Nor, can I equate Black slavery to genocide against Jews.


Really Foofie? Do you know what Slavery was? It was every bit as horrific as the holocaust. And yes, it was premeditated and systematic.

People were flayed alive or fed to dogs. They were bound and packed into ships like sardines where they couldn't move for the weeks, a substantial fraction of them died on the trip (which was considered a business expense). They were raped, killed and hunted.

How can you not equate Slavery to the Genocide against the Jews?
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  3  
Reply Thu 28 Jan, 2016 03:20 pm
@Foofie,
I will say this again Foofie. This is the problem I have with your arguments on threads about race.

I believe that you value the lives of some races over the lives of others. You consistently state that some races deserve to be dominant, and you consider atrocities against certain races as barbarism where equivalent atrocities against other races aren't so bad to you.

It is very difficult to have a discussion on racial issues without an explicit agreement that all humans are equal regardless of their race.



 

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