Tuesday, March 12, 2019

#71 / Not Even Past

David Brooks, the rather conservative "culture columnist" for The New York Times, has come out in favor of "reparations," by which Brooks means "the full acceptance of our collective biography and its consequences ... [something] more than recompense for past injustices—more than a handout, a payoff, hush money, or a reluctant bribe. What I’m talking about," says Brooks, "is a national reckoning that would lead to spiritual renewal."

Brooks references an article by Ta-Nehisi Coates, "The Case for Reparations," published in The Atlantic in June 2014. Brooks didn't think much of that article when it first came out, he says, but Brooks now identifies himself as a "slow convert to the cause."

Click this link for Brooks' column on reparations.

Elizabeth Warren, United States Senator and presidential candidate, seems to be sympathetic to establishing a federal program of reparations.

Kamala Harris, another Senator - and another presidential candidate - also seems ready to commit.

Other Democratic candidates for president don't seem to be in quite in the same position, or so it would appear. Ryan Lizza, writing in Esquire, suggests that a fight over reparations might tear the Democratic Party apart. Right-wing columnist George F. Will thinks so, too, and Will doesn't seem to be any too upset about that, either!

More than anything else, the stories I have been reading about reparations remind me of the statement attributed to William Faulkner, who is pictured above. "The past isn't dead," Faulkner is supposed to have said; "it isn't even past."

The system of human slavery upon which this nation was founded - and it was founded on that system - continues to impact us still. That is the point of the Coates' article, which is lengthy. It is the reason that Brooks has become a "slow convert" to a "national reckoning" with that past.

When the past "isn't even past," we need to confront that past as though it were a present reality.

Because it is. Both the roots and ramifications of slavery are still profoundly present today, and they affect us all.

Here's the thing about any and every present reality: we need to "reckon with it." That's what Brooks is talking about, and I think he's right. 

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