An African-American author quietly took down his combative black challenger this weekend in a debate over whether the American government owes the black community reparations because of slavery.
Author Shelby Steele argues in his book, “Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country,” that liberal notions of reparations and affirmative action have “damaged the black family more profoundly than segregation ever did” by creating a dependent society.
He met writer Ta-Nahisi Coates of The Atlantic in a debate on reparations, on “ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos” Sunday.
Stephanopoulos began by playing a portion of a speech by President Obama in which Obama claimed income disparity between the races “can be traced directly … to the brutal legacy of slavery.”
Coates wholeheartedly endorsed the president’s comments.
“Well, because history matters. It’s pretty clear to us that George Washington matters. We all get together and celebrate on July Fourth, independence,” he said. “We have a problem talking about history when it disadvantages us. And I think any sort of full consideration of patriotism in this country can’t just talk about history when it favors us. We have to talk about it when it disfavors us, too.”
Steele argued that reparations create “a problem of dependency.” He went on to explain that it’s “the efforts of white America to do well by us” that have created a dependent black American society.
When Stephanopoulos cut in and asked Steele how best to close the income gap between black and white America, he said, “You don’t. You don’t close it. You don’t do anything. You leave it alone.”
He added that if there’s an American struggle, it’s one for individual freedom, not income and wealth equality.
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