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.
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.