Alan Keyes for Reparations?!
Chicago Tribune – Keyes has plan for reparations
Speaking at a news conference at the Hotel InterContinental in Chicago, Republican Keyes added to his now familiar talking points his stance on slavery reparations.
Prompted by a reporter’s question, Keyes gave a brief tutorial on Roman history and said that in regard to reparations for slavery, the U.S. should do what the Romans did: “When a city had been devastated [in the Roman empire], for a certain length of time–a generation or two–they exempted the damaged city from taxation.”
Keyes proposed that for a generation or two, African-Americans of slave heritage should be exempted from federal taxes–federal because slavery “was an egregious failure on the part of the federal establishment.” In calling for the tax relief, Keyes appeared to be reaching out to capture the black vote, something that may prove difficult to do, particularly after his unwelcome reception at the Bud Billiken Day Parade Saturday. The former ambassador said his plan would give African-Americans “a competitive edge in the labor market,” because those exempted would be cheaper to hire than federal tax-paying employees and would “compensate for all those years when your labor was being exploited.” Under Keyes’ plan, African-Americans would still have to pay the Social Security tax, because “it’s not a tax in the strict sense,” said Keyes, calling it instead a payment to support a social insurance program.
Keyes has discussed reparations before with statements that seem to contradict Monday’s comments. In 2002 on his short-lived MSNBC show, “Alan Keyes is Making Sense,” he argued with one of his guests, an advocate of reparations, asking, “You want to tell me that what they suffered can actually be repaired with money? You’re going to do the same thing those slaveholders did, put a money price on something that can’t possibly be quantified in that way.” And in a 2002 column titled “Paid in Blood,” Keyes called lawsuits on behalf of slave descendants against large corporations an “effort to extort `reparations’ for slavery from their fellow citizens” and said that “the truth of the Civil War is that the terrible price for American slavery has been paid, once for all,” when Americans gave their lives on the battlefield to end slavery. “The price for the sin of slavery,” Keyes wrote, “has already been paid, in blood.”
Obama responded to Keyes’ comments by saying that the “legacy and stain of slavery is immeasurable,” but that he did not believe that the form of reparations backed by Keyes was the proper method to repair that damage. “I generally think that the best strategies for moving forward involve vigorously enforcing our anti-discrimination laws in education and job training and other programs that can lift all people out of poverty,” Democrat Obama said.
I seriously question Keyes’ sanity. He has long been a rather odd duck, running for president and trying to crash debates just to get attention. His run for the Senate from a state to which he has no connection violates his own, rather recent, condemnation of Hillary Clinton for doing the same thing. Now, he’s adopted an extreme position on race relations that seems in direct contravention to his entire philosophy.
It is quite ironic indeed that Keyes is much closer to Al Sharpton than is Obama. Indeed, taken on its face the concept Keyes proposes is moronic. Regardless of what definition one uses, several generations have passed since slavery ended. The idea that people, many of whom don’t even have a connection to slavery, would be excluded from the most fundamental duty of citizenship for sixty-odd years at this stage is insulting.
Spoons calls Keyes a “racist nutjob bastard” and endorses Obama for the Senate. I haven’t researched Keyes’ family tree and, absent information to the contrary, presume that his parents were married. Otherwise, I must concur.
Update (0842, 8/18): Joe Gandleman has some thoughts on this as well, as a roundup of reactions from around the Blogosphere. If everyone from Oliver Willis to Michelle Malkin thinks you’ve gone off the deep end, there’s a good chance you have.