Brutal. Don Lemon may have thought himself clever by jumping onto the woke bandwagon that has followed the funeral arrangements for Queen Elizabeth II. In reality, Lemon brought crumpets to a rapier fight with royal expert Hilary Fordwich, who utterly depantsed Lemon in this exchange over reparations.
Lemon must have thought that British commentators would be as solicitous as American analysts when it came to reparation demands. Lemon posits that “you have those who are asking for reparations for colonialism,” with demands in the hundreds of billions of dollars. “Those are legitimate concerns,” Lemon posits just before Fordwich fires all guns in return.
Can’t wait to see this guy on the morning circuit (via Katie Pavlich):
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) September 20, 2022
“I think you’re right about reparations in terms if people want it though, what they need to do is you always need to go back to the beginning of the supply chain. Where was the beginning of the supply chain? That was in Africa,” royal expert Hilary Fordwich explained. “Across the entire world when slavery was taking place which was the First Nation in the world that abolished slavery? First Nation in the world to abolish it…was the British.”
“Two-thousand naval men died on the high seas trying to stop slavery. Why? Because the African kings were rounding up their own people. They had them on cages waiting in the beaches. No-one was running into Africa to get them,” she continued. “I think you’re totally right. If reparations need to be paid we need to go right back to the beginning of that supply chain and say, who was rounding up their own people and having them hang from cages. Absolutely, that’s where they should start. And maybe, I don’t know, the descendants of those families where they died in the high seas trying to stop the slavery, those families should receive something soon.”
Fordwich didn’t come to make any apologies, clearly. She also did her homework, which is more than can be said for Lemon. Lemon doesn’t have an answer at all to this, except to offer a weak “interesting discussion” at the end. If this was a battle of wits, Lemon went into it not only completely unarmed but also completely unaware as well.
Needless to say, Lemon is hardly the most robust intellectual arguing on behalf of reparations, so don’t take this as the end of the debate. However, it should be, and permanently. The issue of reparations has more resonance in the US over our longer attachment to slavery — and then to Jim Crow, which blocked the normal cycle of wealth-building that took place in other minority communities over the same century. This government-imposed result is what drives the reparation debate here in the US, which is why this question was an even bigger non-sequitur to Fordwich in the context of Queen Elizabeth II.
However, since the end of Jim Crow, the US has embarked on a series of programs that were designed as reparations to correct the wealth-accumulation issue. Affirmative action in employment and education were the primary levers for these reparations policies, among others, including some Great Society poverty programs originally aimed at black American descendants of slavery. They didn’t work well — and in fact, they backfired to a significant extent — and then got diluted by the expansion of these programs to a much wider range of beneficiaries.
Those programs were and are problematic enough. Reparations now layer onto those failures a forced and unjust transfer of wealth from people who had nothing to do with slavery or Jim Crow to people who also had nothing to do with slavery, and few who had any direct harm from Jim Crow policies either. This would also do nothing to solve the problem, as no one who received such compensation would ever claim that the issues were resolved, and the fights over who qualified for the money and how much would obsess everyone for years, and probably perpetually.
The only way to resolve inequality is to level playing fields so that everyone can compete and build wealth based on their ability. That is where our focus should have been for the last sixty years, rather than separate people into demographic categories to fight over subsidies and build competing hierarchies of victimhood. All that does is create results like we see in this Lemon interview with Fordwich, and … that ain’t pretty at all.