The Personal Website of Mark W. Dawson

Containing His Articles, Observations, Thoughts, Meanderings,
and some would say Wisdom (and some would say not).

Reparations are Immoral

Who is responsible for reparations? For this answer, we need not look beyond what the Judeo-Cristian teachings have taught us. The core question is “Are children punished for the sins of their parents?”. The following answer to this question is from GotQuestions,org.

“Children are not punished for the sins committed by their parents; neither are parents punished for the sins of their children. Each of us is responsible for our own sins. Ezekiel 18:20 tells us, “The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son.” This verse clearly shows that punishment for one’s sins is borne by that person.”

I would encourage you to read this entire article as it further illuminates this subject. Therefore, the answer to the question of who should pay reparations is “the sinner”. In the case of slavery, the sinners are those who allowed for slavery and those who permitted slavery to exist. In the case of bigotry and discrimination against black Americans, the sinners are those who allowed for this bigotry and discrimination and those who permitted this bigotry and discrimination to exist. And those sinners have long since died and answered for their sins. To pay reparations from those who did not commit the sins is to vest the sins of the fathers upon the sons, which is immoral.

 As to the debt of slavery, I am reminded of what Abraham Lincoln said in his Second Inaugural Address:

The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

The Civil War is what was paid for the debt of slavery. The deaths, dismemberment, disease, destruction, and the costs of fighting the Civil War were the debt the people of the United States paid for the sins of slavery. A debt that was paid for by not only the people who supported slavery, but by the people who allowed slavery - the American people. A debt that was paid in full as ”God wills” according to Abraham Lincoln.The short book by noted historian Allen C. Guelzo, “Redeeming the Great Emancipator” discusses the issues and concerns regarding reparations for slavery. In pages 91-113, he provides a historical context for reparations and asks several issues that bear on the ways and means of reparations. The main questions to be answered by reparations are ‘Is it to be done by legislation or by litigation?’, ‘Who should the receive the reparations an how much should they receive?’,  and ‘Who should pay the reparations and how much should they pay?’. The answers to these questions illuminate the problems of reparations.

The sins of bigotry, prejudice, and discrimination, after the Civil War, are another matter. Bigotry, prejudice, and discrimination were not only against black Americans but also against Irish, Italian, Jews, Asians, American Indians, and other groups in American History. Do we need to pay reparations to all these groups that have suffered bigotry, prejudice, and discrimination? How are we to determine what the payments are to be, and who would be responsible for these payments? I submit that this is an intransigent problem. A problem because of who was affected, when it occurred, and how much of an impact was the bigotry, prejudice, and discrimination. It is also a problem because of the intermarriage within these groups as well as with the intermarriage outside of these groups. But more fundamentally it is the question that most of these sins were committed by people who are no longer alive. Which brings us back to the immorality of vesting the sins of the father upon the sons.

The personal history of discrimination in 20th century America is reflected in my own family's history. My grandfather was born in 1900 in the United States that was bigoted against blacks and discriminated against the other groups that I have previously mentioned. My grandfather grew up believing that blacks were intellectually and morally inferior, and the other groups only slightly better. As such he was a bigot. The good thing about my grandfather was he also grew up believing that all people should be treated politely and respectfully. His beliefs were expressed inside his own home and never expressed outside his house. Indeed, he would not allow others around him to be anything other than polite and respectful to others, and would often chastise anyone who was not polite or respectful. My father took on his father’s opinions except he did not believe that blacks were inferior, only lazy and that the other groups were culturally unable to achieve their full potential. As such he was prejudiced. However, like my grandfather, he also grew up believing that all people should be treated politely and respectfully, and would allow none around him to be other than polite and respectful to others. I am happy to report that he had a change of heart later in life and lost most of his prejudice. I on the other hand grown-up with no consideration of bigotry or prejudice. I had Jewish friends, Catholic friends, Italian friends, a black friend, Polish friends, and I was friendly to anybody who was friendly to me. I enjoyed learning about their culture and history, not to mention the gastronome delights of their culture. I guess you could call me neutral (but mostly unaware) as regards to bigotry or prejudice. I was too young to be involved in the Civil Rights movement but supported it when I matured. As to my daughter, she has no problem dealing with anybody anyway, shape, or form. Bigotry or prejudice or discrimination are abhorrent to her and she actively opposes it. This pretty much describes the evolution of American Civil Rights in the 20th century, but there are always people who are left behind or choose not to move forward, and we should not tolerate their bigoted or discriminatory words or deeds.

The best atonement for bigotry, prejudice, and discrimination is to not allow it to occur in today's society, which the people of the United States have been trying to accomplish since the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Of course, some bigotry, prejudice, and discrimination still occur in today's society, but when it occurs the people responsible for it are prosecuted or disparaged. If the prosecution is successful, then the sinner must pay reparations to those who were impacted. This is as it should be as the cost of the sin is borne by the sinner.

I, therefore, conclude that to pay reparations to those who were not sinned against by those who did not commit the sin is “Immoral”.


p.s. – Reparations for Holocaust survivors and Japanese Americans who were interned during World War II are another matter. In the case of Holocaust Survivors, the reparations were extracted from those individuals or companies that directly aided the Holocaust and were paid to the victims (grandparents, parents, and children) who suffered the Holocaust. Therefore, the sinner had to pay reparations to those they sinned against. As to the Japanese Americans who were interned during World War II the reparations were paid by the sinner (The United States Government) to those who were sinned against (Japanese American grandparents, parents, and children). Therefore, the sinner had to pay reparations to those they sinned against. These reparations were moral as the sinner had to pay those who they sinned against.