Elizabeth Warren, a 2020 presidential hopeful, has voiced her support for reparations to the descendants of slaves who were financially harmed by slavery. Reparations are ostensibly considered in the pursuit of justice, but would justice be served by the practice in this instance?
It has always alarmed me how strong some feel on an issue when it involves spending someone else’s money to address it. Elizabeth Warren the politician wants to use someone else’s money (that is what taxes are someone else’s money) to make reparations, but millionairess Elizabeth Warren has not thought once about setting up a reparations trust fund beginning with a sizable donation and encouraging her millionaire friends to contribute. That might cause her campaign fund to suffer, but I digress.
I was in my mid-thirties when President Reagan signed a bill that paid Americans of Japanese descent for their illegal internment in camps in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. It was about $20,000 per survivor for the loss of property and liberty denied them during that time. It was better than nothing I am sure, but far from justice.
In Mosaic law reparation was an integral part of administering justice when it came to property crimes and that is undeniable, but it was clearly practiced when the victim was still alive to be recompensed by the perpetrator.
God told Ezekiel, “The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity,” Ezekiel 18:20. The Judge of the whole earth has shown us it is unjust to hold one generation responsible for the offenses another generation committed.
I do not understand how justice is furthered by having one generation who has never been involved in the practice of slavery, to be forced to pay an arbitrary amount of money to a generation who has never been enslaved. That is not only unjust it is unreasonable; it makes no sense.
Then there are practical considerations. How will it be determined those who are to be compensated? Who will make those decisions? Will current circumstances dictate how funds are distributed? In other words, will an affluent family receive the same amount as a single mother living in poverty? If not, who will decide how funds are to be prorated?
Simply put, the idea of reparation in this instance is flawed in principle and seemingly impractical to implement fairly. It would appear that some wrongs might not be made right in this life.
Some prominent pastors have spoken out in favor of reparation in strong terms. I just do not see how those views are reconciled with what Scripture teaches. I think such views are more visceral than cerebral. Reparation may satisfy our emotions, but does it satisfy the furtherance of justice? That is a difficult question with no easy answer, and I do not think the answer will be found in the political arena; it may only be found in the halls of Heaven.