Dec.12, 2017 - Birmingham, Alabama, U.S. - DOUG JONES, Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in Alabama, greets supporters outside the Bethel Baptist Church on election day.(Credit Image: © Brian Cahn via ZUMA Wire)

A new term in US political discourse has been etched as a result of the Democratic win in Alabama over the scary Roy Moore: a case of credible allegation rather than provable conduct. Beware my dear friends, beware of the slippery slope.

American liberals want to act like Roy Moore was wrong when he stated in no uncertain terms that US greatness is rooted in the historicity of hot plantations, plentiful cotton and slavery. Liberals will refuse to admit this unpopular premise, even in the economic sense, because to some the view is only monstrous.

To understand that American liberals are no different from their fellow Trumpians one needs only make sense of why the mention of the economic “wealth” of the US begotten through Slavery irks so many. Ethical or humanitarian values included, Roy Moore, without the florid fanfare, makes a case for righting US morals: Reparations. But that word is what liberals including Bernie Sanders hate above all else! American liberals do not face facts if it goes to help Blacks, even when they are rescued in elections by the fake accent Imposter In Chief, Barack Obama, who does their bidding in the Black Church.

So although the world of “God” and settled hierarchies (ideas of the Chosen People, Exceptional People) has produced a world of unpardonable iniquitous conduct, today’s liberal dreams of utopia has rather produced a cancerous world with no intention to right the wrongs of the past.

What the US Two-Party State needs hence, for instance, is an outflanking altogether, something that Trump has done, to a degree, albeit in a manner so nauseating, thuggish, roguish and contrarian it beggars intelligence or forethought.

But for whatever it is worth, it is equally thuggish to see Democratic strategists, even after the defeat of the Antebellum Era Romantic, Roy Moore in Alabama, wag their tails on the ever remote distant CNN. These sycophants can still be seen attempting with blinding conviction to suggest that Trump was not even relevant, that the cold grip of the Sodomizer In Chief, who turned Libya to smithereens, Hillary Clinton, still exerts on her party is worthy and credible.

Liberals, more than the unconscionable Evangelicals (who need God), need an awakening. They need to quickly recognize that Trump is a symptom of a deeper cancer, metastasizing in both parties, that requires earth shaking, even shattering reforms beyond the highfalutin lip service they pay to helping America’s paupers; beyond the magniloquent lip service they pay to straightening-up America for good. Many cases of “credible allegations rather than provable conduct” against Republicans ain’t gonna cut it. In fact, it will soon backfire.

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Amenuti Narmer
Narmer Amenuti (Dances With Lions) was born by The River, deep within the heartlands of Ghana, in Ntoaboma. He is a Public Intellectual from the Sankoré School, a Temple of the African Prophetic Tradition. He remains the only surviving speaker of Vebantu, the Ancestral Tongue to most West African languages. As a Culture Critic from the Sankoré School (of Critical Theory) and a Guan Rhythmmaker, he is a dilettante, a dissident and a gadfly, and he eschews promotional intellectualism. He maintains strict anonymity and invites intellectuals and lay people alike to honest debate. He reads every comment. ~ Success Corrupts; Usefulness Exalts! ~ Narmer!

7 COMMENTS

  1. Really provocative piece! Good to read, and quite convincing in it’s rhetorical stance toward mobilization. I might be taking this in a too thought out fashion. But, what the heck, here it goes:

    It’s a really interesting argument, with a few minor touch ups. Sanders isn’t a liberal, so, like asking Sander’s supporters, who also hate on liberals all the time, to become “awakened liberals” is missing something. Sanders is a Democratic Socialist and a progressive. Liberals are Democrats, some progressives are Democrats too, but not all progressives are liberals. You can have socialists, for example, who are progressives, but are definitely not liberals, because they have different ideas about economics. Liberal economics and socialist economics are structurally opposed, from a theoretical level. Just look at Perez or Obama vs. Sanders. The terms and political stances therefore have different implications, and the sooner we recognize that, the faster we get away from the two party mess that this piece aptly critiques as part of the problem.

    I guess, I don’t think that criticizing the two party system and then reframing the argument within the typical liberal-conservative framework, and targeting does anything in the end to the greater structure of the two party system either.

    Let’s say the argument works. We have awakened liberals in support of reparations now. Great! But, liberals are a minority in the current government in almost every key state and office. Even if the tide really is turning… until it actually turns, we are at a structural problem again (even if the liberals wake up!).

    To make the case for pro-reparations, I’d suggest it’s just something that everyone should consider more deeply, and really needs to take to heart the different historical positions.

    My own response is also preconditioned, however. Not because I’m a Vermont socialist further left than Bernie, which may be true. But, rather, because my American family are basically all Quakers (as opposed to the Canadian side).

    Quakers on the east coast made reparations a pre-condition for joining a meeting by the end of the 18th century. So, that community has essentially been pro-reparations since, often making calls for reparations on the national scene.

    All this said, I think people interpret Bernie’s position not quite the way it actually is. He understands reparations to be only paid out to the descendants of US slaves. He thinks that is wrong, because there are still black communities in the US, take parts of Brooklyn for example, where there is still a lot of poverty, but the families are more recent immigrants. Aren’t there probably some descendants of slaves who migrated to the US even after the 19th c.?

    My own response to Bernie would be to raise the question: why do we have to think about reparations in such narrow terms as we often do? We could take Sander’s points about unemployment and educational attainment and use them to construct a more nuanced platform for reparations, for example, but then go even further. I think Coates starts to do this across his several pieces on the issue.

    Theoretically, I would hypothesize that a successful reparations platform in the US would have to take into account a few political realities: 1) the far left is increasingly strong, and critical of liberal positions. 2) The liberals would have to be won over. 3) At least a few conservative/republicans have to be won over. If that coalition can be formed, legislation could pass.

    So, why not take into account the ideals of reparations? Is a family whose antecedents lived as slaves in Brazil working on plantations that ultimately served US markets in the late 19th c., but later migrated to Boston, any less deserving of a family who lived in Mississippi and later migrated to Chicago? Are we to talk reparations while we ignore the structures of American military investment in Africa today, and the continued colonialist plunder of minerals, coupled with environmental destruction?

    These questions suggest the platform for reparations should be complex and multifaceted, in my mind, to redress historical injustices, particularly those that are perpetuated up through the present.

    A nuanced reparations platform would take into account some environmental considerations, which would win over the Green Party. It already has **most** of the Socialists and Progressives behind it. The Democratic Socialists could be won over through broad based platforms that argue for wealth redistribution. The Liberals might have to be won over based mostly on “moral authority” and historical knowledge, which is fine, and the above piece makes a stab toward that position.

    How to get the centrist conservatives, then? Well, the far left and Libertarians tend to get along on a few issues. Libertarians are touchy about American intervention abroad, and hence could be won over through a platform that “narrows big government abroad.” (That’s what you have to tell them anyways?). Libertarians and some centrist conservatives can also be won over to progressive positions if you make fun of liberals first and then propose an idea without telling them where it’s coming from. Because it’s the US, in the end this legislation would have to be packaged in some “this is about the ideals of the Bill of Rights” frame.

    Of course my position has flaws, probably many I haven’t considered, but I’m interested in seeing what passable legislation would look like on the issue.

    PS: The caveat to my kid gloves treatment of Sander’s position is TN Coates article from last year.

    PPS: TLDR, clearly I see reparations as a key aspect of redistribution of wealth and means of production. so, yeah, pro.

  2. Hermann W. von Hesse haha. Thanks, sir. I didn’t get to the larger point at the end, re: “outflanking,” but I’d connect it to the “coalition building” strategy I highlight above. Coalition building could be used for any issue, but, I figured the reparations one was closer to our mutual historical interests in the Afro-Atlantic world.

  3. Billy Noseworthy, you raise some dashing criticisms of my take on liberals. The most prominent one of which is my lumping together of liberals, democrats and socialists into one side of the two-party system that I am often wont to abhor (I think it is a type of dictatorship, although this is beside the point). You are not wrong that there are ideological differences (economic, social and political differences) between liberals and the rest, and the lack of appreciation for such nuances reflect a general lack of perspective towards all political and social policy discourse. Again, you are not wrong. So let’s get to the other issue you raised which I thought was equally vital but which contradicts the ethos of you first critique.

    First, I am opposed to the idea that reparations, the way that most African American scholars now agree on, including Coates, by the way, should be broad. The idea of “broad” serves to water down, or may I say obfuscate the direct essence of the reparations that Coates and so many talk about today, namely: (1) the promise made by the US Federal Government to Black soldiers for victory in the civil war, (2) the promise made by the US Government to right the wrongs of Jim Crow (material wrongs as in the taking over of Black property by white looters mainly in the South after the civil war), (3) the request being made by folks like Coates himself to right the wrongs of Redlining policies in cities like Chicago, New York City, that targeted and defrauded Blacks of their properties. And on. All provable points by decedents of African Americans in each of those instances, charging the American government, the Federal government for the dereliction of its constitutional duty.

    Second, you notice that there’s no mention in the above of “reparations” due to slavery, which is not insignificant but which many more Caucasian Americans, like Sanders, Obama and the Clintons, are wont to abhor since only a tiny fraction of that populace are willing to admit that the country that is now the United States of America must face the direct cost of their own errors (in the past or present). And they may have a point as the era did not clearly have a Federal American Government to begin with, lest charge it for dereliction of duty. More, few African Americans who understand the issues at stake in America, and who understand the sentiments of Caucasians, do not want to mention the idea of getting paid arrears (including interests) accrued over the more than 350 years their ancestors spent working for free, and under the whip, for a bunch of lazy people incapable of surviving on their own in the new world. Few African Americans want to go there because (1) they understand that Americans are yet to be so civilized (as the Quakers of the North East once were) as to want to repent from such a blight on their character and (2) it muddies the argument about the indefatigable need for meeting the demands of reparations in the first point (second paragraph) above.

    It is this muddying that you, in one sense advise against (when I lumped all sorts of democrats together), but which you also seem to fully embrace with the discourse on reparations of all kinds. Why this makes matters worse is simple: It is true that the path of the destiny of African Americans cannot but appall him who surveys only a section of it. And I might do well to keep this commentary to myself. However, the voluminous talk about reparations in its most general terms does nothing but conceal a lack of perspective, and a lack of will, towards resolving the material and violent crimes committed against African Americans by the US Federal Government even after the civil war; it conceals a lack of perspective and a lack of will towards addressing the true nature of racism in America today and the unique manifestations of it in the African American community, which merits as close a judgment as a similar lack of perspective towards democrats.

    Why? An effort to begin solving the more direct consequences of US Federal Government errors can ensue and any hope for America, as a nation, is bound to begin there. Perhaps, from that, a more nuanced discussion can begin on the character of the new world, and what it wants to achieve (civilization or barbarism) moving forward. Which is another way of saying that perhaps then a more nuanced discussion can ensue in the USA and move towards whether it wants to repent at all for its past sinfulness.

  4. Narmer. Excellent points to bring up! Like I said, I’m interested in seeing something passed, like actual legislation on the issue, so appeal and strategy is important. But court cases would be good to see, too.

    I’d just say that Sanders isn’t a Democrat, even though many people treat him as one, to clarify how to appeal to people like Sanders. Communicating with him is more effective when you address his socialist tendencies in my experience. I’ve only really done this in letter form, but I know of others in Vermont who say the same thing. I think he can be convinced, if it is framed around coalition building. Convincing Sanders, and Dem Socialists (who aren’t actually Democrats at all), can actually change the discourse of the further left progressive wing of the Democrats, since they tend to follow Democratic Socialists, who tend to be more innovative with policy than progressive Democrats, like Keith Ellison. The Keith Ellison progressive wing, however, tends to be more innovative than the liberal Obama and Clinton wing, but the progressives have pushed the liberals into the right policy in the past, for example on LGBTQIA rights, so my thought is this strategy of thinking about approaches could be incredibly successful. So, I guess my stance against muddying is merely in terms of political strategy of framing who the platform appeals to and why. I don’t think muddying and broadening are the same thing? Could be wrong.

    I think this platform would have a lot of power if it spoke to multiple groups: Greens, Socialists, Dem Socialists, Dems, Libertarians, and some Centrist Republicans. That way legislation might meaningfully get passed. Why include the smaller left parties? Because they significantly and successfully tug at the moral fibers of the Dems and Reps with activism and policy proposals. I’d say that by broadening the perspective on reparations to accept the historical reality that the implications of the US slave trade and reliance upon the slave economy had long terms impacts that included direct investment in profits of slavery from Brazil, even after slavery was illegal in the United States, and in West Africa and the Caribbean throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century through military and imperial actions, I mean that this allows for a broader appeal. This is what I mean by broad considerations: broad appeal. We would need broad appeal to get support for legislation. In the end, a broader appeal can also create a more focused platform. Let’s consider the implications:

    It sounds to me like you’re saying the reparations platform absolutely needs also to include 1a) a redress of promises to Black soldiers made during the civil war. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve read this should also include a redress of the impact of pensions not paid or long term costs incurred while pensions were delayed. We know there are many of these cases. What else would point 1 include? Does it include other forms of redress to descendants of those soldiers for increased education and economic opportunities (1b)? I’m sure there are other focused considerations I’m not thinking of.

    Reparations should also include 2) righting of the wrongs of Jim Crow legislation. First, you say this has to include righting of material wrongs 2a). I agree. How much? In what form? Is it direct payouts? Is it direct funding to support education? What about political participation?

    2b) To me this sounds like it means that there must be specific legislation targeting the populations of the state where Jim Crow laws were in place, and should include mandating a space for greater political participation.

    For example: many Jim Crow laws were designed to limit voting, because this limited black political participation, making it easier for whites to loot from black communities under the auspices of “legality.” Could federal investment in automatic voter registration (i), increased access to polling places and absentee voting (ii), along with federal mandates to strike down the unconstitutional Voter ID laws (iii), be an additional part of the platform in point two? I would say yes, but I could be wrong.

    Point 3) the impact of redlining. One suggestion is to mandate the restitution through direct civil court action, push for the increases in supplementary federal funds to keep those housing supplies steady, while additionally pushing for federal funds and mandates that encourage the development of mixed income communities.

    3a) I absolutely agree that this should include a redress of wrongs where families were defrauded of their properties in the form of direct restitution. I would assume in this case that this comes in the form of a mandate for civil restitution from a civil court, perhaps a class action case?

    Redlining was also essentially tied to municipal zoning, and social practices and even the rise of voucher education programs as a result of the structures of property values, and how property tax contributes to public school districts. How to further redress redlining? I have some ideas, but I’d like to hear more.

    3b) HUD is an issue here, too. Can we say decrease all funds invested in public housing? The research I have suggests that anything except a 14% increase in public housing and Section 8 funds would amount to a drastic slash of those programs. That could be seen as a decrease in ghettoization, as I’m inclined to see it as. But, another point that was raised to me recently is: a 14% increase in those funds won’t actually lead to any more “project construction” but is rather just “maintenance costs” of current programs based on services associated. Where does housing come in? I’m not sure whether this redress should be included or not.

    3c) Mixed income communities are the antithesis to redlining, as far as I understand them. This would include the push of allowing for mixed use zoning (allowing families to operate a place of employment out of the front side of their home, for example), which is actually **still a zoning violation** in many cities where redlining was practice. This would include the development of new communities, along with specific investment in getting families impacted by slavery, Jim Crow, and redlining into housing stable, and home ownership situations.

    4) Education: redlining and public housing policies of the past led to the public education crisis because state funds for public education are tied to property tax values.

    4a) The State of Vermont attempted to redress a similar issue by creating a property tax pool, where public education funds were all paid into the state, as they already are, and then redistributed, not directly to the individual towns, but redistributed based on a ranking system to redress communities most in need of public education funding.

    4b) Reparations probably needs to include investment in higher education opportunities for the communities that lived under slavery, Jim Crow, and redlining, too, right?

    It sounds to me like if we were to adopt these above platforms, there would naturally be opportunity to word things in such a way that they also created opportunities for the descendants of the slave economies **outside the US** the the US federal government relied upon in the wake of the Emancipation Proclamation. For example, the previous example of descendants Brazilian slaves now living in the United States.

    The last issue I raised initially is American imperial actions abroad in West Africa in a contemporary sense & environmental impacts. There’s a few implications of those. But, targeted divestment of American militarism could be a means to divert those funds away from continued imperialism and toward the reparations platform.

    So, I would include 5) a pull back of American forces from West Africa.

    I’m not sure how to think about environmental impacts, besides thinking about redressing FEMA’s past wrongs. I’d be curious to here more about what that might look like?

  5. Thanks for the details Billy Noseworthy. And I shall continue to ruminate on your policy questions for a long time. Let me make a few quick points in the meantime.

    It is not an insignificant issue you’ve raised here: The point that the withdrawal from West Africa, for instance, of American Imperial Actions (USAFRICOM), could serve to release the needed will, the focus and the funds, towards the reparations platform is not a small matter. I couldn’t agree more, but good luck. Why? US imperial actions in Africa, at least from my perspective, are a direct consequence (or is it a continuation; perhaps not in name, but in form at least) of Western racial exploitation of Africa (and even beyond), of which Africans in the diaspora are now the remnants of its direct victims. That train which left the station in 1492, from Exploration Missions, to Christian Missions, to the Slave Trade (American Industrial Revolution), to Colonization (The Industrial Revolution), to Imperialism (Atomic Power), to Neo-Imperialism (The UN, the IMF, The World Bank), and has now arrived with us in the form of a War On Terror (USAFRICOM on Boko Haram and such).

    The way this has worked it seems is that the material gain in the looting of Africa and in the looting of African skill/labor has more than often returned monstrous profits to the Western Elite, and offset more than the direct cost to the ordinary Caucasian citizen. In some sense they have all over-dosed on the sugar and cotton. Asking these Mafiosi to quit “the sweet tea” and “the dry cleaning of their oversized tuxedos,” is to beg the next question: How does a nation handle the withdrawal symptoms—how do Americans and America cut back? If one requests for reparations in its most general terms (especially with the value of the interest accrued since), how is one not asking for the radical redistribution of the profits amassed from African resources and African skill/labor since 1492? Or else, where will the funds be immaculately conceived for the reparations project?

    On one hand, this makes your point about the global reparations agenda. We cannot think of one and not the related other. I accept. Yet, it also marks the beginning of a conundrum: Is the withdrawal of USAFRICOM (that is, is the fair treatment of African nations on the global market after the withdrawal of the Gestapo USAFRICOM watching over) itself to be perceived as a kind of righting a [past] wrong, a kind of reparation? Is this enough? Is no longer committing a crime enough to assuage the direct costs to the victims of crimes committed prior? A Duboisian Paradox arises: is the treatment of other human beings as human beings itself supposed to be commended without payment for prior inhumanity? Is asking for payment for crimes committed in the past a handout? Which brings me back to the point of the essence of the reparations that African American citizens are immediately asking for. They are not in the first instance I raised on my previous comment, only asking for fair treatment now and in the future (since a person’s fair treatment is not another person’s property to give or take). They are not even at the moment asking for payment for centuries-long crimes against their humanity. They are asking to be given back what property belonged to them after it was unlawfully and violently taken away after the civil war. They are asking also for the spoils of that civil war (in like manner as the Northerners enriched themselves), but which spoils seem rather to have been restored to the defeated criminals of the Confederate South over the victors (African Americans).

    So on the other hand, although global reparations remains a lofty task to which African Americans are largely committed, it takes away from the very idea, the more immediate and pertinent demand, for state-wide, national reconciliation and reparations, specific to the conditions of the United States of America alone and its second founding (during the civil war). In that respect, the arrow of moral justice points in the direction of immediate reparations if the US Government and Caucasian Americans in general are serious about American Democracy first. Since, even if one were to accept as normal the immoral topology over which slavery transpired for over three hundred years in the Americas (which clouds judgement on the issue and which seems to require, and I can agree, a broadening of coalition for acceptance), one cannot deny the immorality of the dereliction of duty, the broken promises made by the US Federal Government to African Americans who fought and died for the second coming of America (post-civil war). That need for immediate justice, reparations for African Americans, cannot be predicated on broadening coalitions since the issue at hand, i.e the paying back of promises made and broken by the US Federal Government, is as legitimate and clear cut as the second founding of the United States itself through civil war. The reluctance by Bernie Sanders and the rest to comprehend the nuance here remains frustrating among African American scholars, notably Coates.

    This is why I suggest that broadening the reparations project through the various fragmented coalitions in the beginning, in some sense, is muddying the water. It takes away from the fact that the US Government is already at the least ignoring a matter of supreme importance. It takes away from the fact that what happened to African Americans after the second founding of the United States of America is without a doubt, a crime. Crimes against humanity. Those have to be fixed pronto if there’s any hope for a global reparations agenda that even reaches back some 350 years. Furthermore, the water I am referring to is the geopolitical waters and the tributaries that feed into US Imperialism in general. In other words, a global reparations agenda from start will also be asking for too much to begin with: that is asking for a total reconstitution of the mentality of the US Elite, or asking for an about-turn on US posturing in the world today (especially at the back of a rising China and a puffing “cantankerous ally” in Russia) will be asking for far too much too soon, while ignoring the pressing issue of immediate nation-wide reparations for African Americans. I suggest that a step-wise approach, starting from within (which is where all good things begin), on a state-level and expanding outwards, and perhaps eventually leading to the commitment to the global reparations agenda will be like using a scalpel to perform the surgery piece-wise, fixing American Democracy one piece at a time, rather than using a machete to dismember the looting arm.

    That said, the spirit of your generalist approach (which is what I think of it; I could be wrong) is not without applause. African American citizens are happier for it also. Who wouldn’t embrace with the cry of Sam Cooke (Free At Last), and from the bellies of the alligators of The Mississippi, the total repentance of the US Government? Although, we would prefer that this repentance start from Memphis! That in itself—if not for the material corrections of crimes committed in the past against them and their families—will mark the “Birth of a New Nation,” a brighter spot in the larger expanse of the barbarism they have suffered thus far in Western hands and American lands.

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