“We would hire you today but you’re the wrong sex and the wrong color.”
That was the shortest job interview I ever had, and it was also the first. Straight out of college with my newly-printed journalism diploma, I approached a Portland radio-TV station that employed a former University of Oregon J-school colleague. He was two years ahead of me at the U of O, but we’d been acquainted tolerably well so I gave it a shot.
That was in the 1970s. As in, forty-plus years ago. In those days anti-white bias was accepted as “reverse discrimination” in which “reverse” is the adjective and “discrimination” is the noun. Just thought I’d mention it. But today we’re riding the same semantic merry-go-round again.
Now we’re hearing a great deal about the wider matter of White Privilege and “reparations” for slavery. So what are we to make of the 360,000 or so white Union soldiers who died to free the slaves? If “reparations” are to be paid to descendants of slaves, logically (!) compensation should be made to descendants of those who died to free them because those soldiers’ relatives received almost nothing.
I asked some history colleagues and Veterans Administration sources about Civil War “GI insurance” for Union KIAs. Apparently there was none. This is the most detailed response, from a friend finishing the history of a Wisconsin regiment:
“The family would get whatever money was due to the soldier, such as pay and enlistment bonus. Certain next of kin: widows, parents (if they could demonstrate need), and minor children if orphaned could apply for a pension, but it was not always automatic. Rates varied over time but they were not generous.”
My VA source (a Vietnam War platoon leader) is a retired attorney who says the first wartime death benefits arose in World War I.
Now, for some personal perspective, here’s the lowdown:
Two of my paternal great-grandfather's older brothers from Ohio served in the Union Army and survived. They were the fortunate ones. (Their cousin born in 1863 was named in honor of Copperhead politician Clement Vallandigham. His northern party favored a negotiated settlement with the South, resulting in a military tribunal, imprisonment and deportation.)
A brother of my maternal, Barrett, great grandfather from a Maine regiment died in Confederate captivity. Two Union Tillmans from Maine and Massachusetts (cavalry) died of other causes, plus another in U.S. Colored Troops. Another distant kinsman, Private Tillman Westfall, died in an Ohio cavalry regiment.
Sothen: what are we to make of “reparations” as one of many routes to offsetting White Privilege? We The People are expected to dip into the U.S. Treasury (already billions in debt) and pay atonement money to people who were never slaves and who have never known anyone who was a slave. In fact, it seems uncertain how the recipients of Reparations would prove eligibility. And for that matter, what degree of consanguinity would apply? How many generations and how many tenth cousins six times removed?
Some definitions are required. Would reparations only apply to descendants of black American slaves from 1776 to 1865 or from 1619? And where’s the documentation?
Would payments be based upon the number of slave ancestors, or do recipients get the same amount whether they had just one such ancestor or ten, or one hundred? Some phenotypically “white" Americans have black slave ancestors.
I'd guess that most non-black Americans today don't have a slave-owning ancestor. Is it fair for taxpayers all of whose ancestors arrived here after 1865 to contribute to this fund?
What about black and American Indian slave-owners? Many if not most black Americans descend from slave owners.
How about American Indians, Asians and Latinos?
How would the total amount be derived? No matter how high, it would never be deemed enough. Abolitionists wanted every family of freedmen to receive forty acres and a mule, but few did. With four million freed slaves, there might have been a million such families. The value of forty Southern farmland acres and a mule today would run around $120,000, thus about $120 billion en toto. At present possibly eligible population of perhaps 40 million, that's only $3,000 per person, which probably wouldn't be acceptable.
And how many additional Reparations will ensue? (In ’86 Reagan foolishly signed a one-time good deal amnesty on behalf of illegal immigrants. Yeahright…)
You see where we’re headed…
Usually I allow myself 1,000 words for each blog but this month I don’t see any point in expounding beyond what I’ve already written.
Besides, I’m working on two more books that I hope will enhance my self-employed, non-pensioned White Privilege.