Often times, like most of us, I come across some rather explicit socially and racially divisive content on social media. One topic that has caught my attention numerous times is the racially-explosive idea regarding reparations for slavery.
Most people are probably at least aware of the topic, but just in case, here is a brief explanation: in short, what proponents of reparations for slavery would like to see is for current, present-day society, as a collective whole, to pay other current members of society for the time that their ancestors spent as slaves.
So, in other words, even though the descendants, who happen to be current, living members of society, who also have not spent any actual time as slaves – advocates for reparations say that they should be paid for the suffering that their ancestors endured while enslaved, and the payments should be made by other current, living members of society who have not spent any actual time during their current lives as slave owners.
Even though I personally do not have a stance on the topic of reparations, for or against, people who oppose this idea offer defenses that I generally agree with. They say things such as: “No living people, black or white, are responsible for what other black or white people did generations ago.”
And then they’ll add further commentary that goes something along the lines of: “Exactly! People are only responsible for their own actions.” Once again, this is a point I can agree with. I mean, who couldn’t agree with that?
Let it be stated that the purpose of writing about this topic is not to provide any additional arguments for or against the idea of reparations for slavery. I really just wish to simply identify the key logical argument used against reparations about how present-day humans can’t legitimately be held accountable for the actions or inactions of other humans, blood-related or otherwise, from the past. Furthermore, it seems quite logical to me that as more and more time passes, the further and further we are removed from the actions of our ancestors.
It seems to me – based on my observations, anyway – that the majority of the people who are proponents of reparations for slavery are of the darker-skin color variety, and those who strongly oppose it are of the lighter-skin color variety.
In all actuality, though, come to think of it – based once again on my observations – the topic seems to not really surface all that much, but, when it does, usually, it’s typically in the form of opposition.
I’ve seen opposition voiced in phrases such as:
“Why should anybody be held responsible for something that they never actually took part in? I never personally owned any slaves.”
“Why should anybody benefit from atrocities that they never personally suffered from? I don’t know of any currently living African-Americans who actually spent any time as slaves.”
“Nobody deserves a free ride – I don’t care what happened over a hundred years ago.”
“Where is the money supposed to come from, anyway?”
“What about Irish slaves? Should we give them reparations, too? Oh wait – we don’t hear of Irish people begging for handouts because we’re not pussies looking for free shit.”
I’ve seen these. You have seen these types of statements, too (more than likely).
And I’ll admit, some of the statements are rather outlandish and vulgar, more so than I typically like to write about, but I feel like they still revolve around the central argument of not being able to legitimately hold people responsible for the actions of others from a long time ago, actions that present-day persons had no say in, and I think that this is a sound defense.
It’s true: people who are currently alive had absolutely no say in the matter of slavery in America; they had no choice; they had absolutely no influence on the outcome of the circumstances at the time. How could one argue otherwise?
You know, the people who owned slaves in America used the Bible as justification for owning other human beings and forcing them to do their bidding. Deny it all you want, but how can you say otherwise when considering verses like these:
5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.
Perhaps I am taking those verses out of context? I suppose it’s possible. Now, I am not going to sit here and list all the Bible verses regarding slavery; you have google, too – just do a quick search. Then, if you want, go ahead and verify the verses by opening your Bible to make sure that Satan didn’t just publish a bunch of misinformation on the interweb to confuse the believers and lead them astray. There are tons of passages regarding slavery in the Bible, i.e. how much they’re worth, how hard you can beat them, how long you should own them, stuff like that.
I like to consider the religious notion of original sin and how – according to sincerely devout religious people, anyway – we all automatically inherit the guilt of the original sin of Adam and Eve; how we are all born sinners because of their actions; we are all unworthy of admittance to heaven regardless of how well-behaved we are during our lives. We all fall short of the glory of god, they say – or some such nonsense like that.
And then, upon further examination of the bible, we’ll find prophesies (that came true!) about a savior who was sent to earth to live amongst the humans to become the ultimate sacrifice, crucified to redeem us of this original sin, and how – in order to get into heaven, anyway – all we have to do is acknowledge this sacrifice and telepathically accept Jesus as our lord and savior so that our inherited original sin from Adam and Eve (plus the sins we accumulate throughout our lifetimes) can be forgiven and washed away by the blood of the lamb.
But then again, I can’t help but think to myself: Nobody currently living had any say in the matter of what Adam and Eve allegedly did, thousands of years ago.
Furthermore, nobody currently living had any influence on the sort of circumstances regarding Jesus or the decision made to crucify him.
No one currently alive had any input on anything that happened 150 years ago, let alone several thousand years ago, yet the majority of people in America – religious people, that is – tend to adhere to the belief that we all bear the guilt of Adam and Eve’s alleged original sin.
In conclusion, I fail to see why the (what I consider to be) logically-sound defense raised in opposition to reparations for slavery couldn’t just as easily be raised in opposition to the religious notion of original sin, hence rendering useless the need for god to mysteriously impregnate a young, teen virgin so he could ultimately sacrifice himself to himself to save us from the original sin he created that we are all supposedly cursed with from birth.
*PS: I still say, based on my understanding of the accounts, that the holy ghost is a rapist.