Matthew J. Cressler is a progressive Catholic, the kind of worldly cosmopolitan modern Christian who won’t have anything to do with any of that anti-semitism, tribalism, or militarism of traditional Christianity. The only vintage Christianity he’ll indulge in is some good old-fashioned blood libel. Of course, keeping up with the times, the sin is now racism instead of killing Christ and the sinner is now White folks instead of the people who killed Christ–and would do it again!
White Americans in general, and especially Catholic Whites like himself, owe Black Americans reparations, according to Mr. Cressler. And we’re not talking about fruity half-measures of working toward closing income and achievement gaps. We’re not settling for renaming historical buildings and samesuch time-wasting. We’re talking about transferring wealth from White bank accounts into Black bank accounts until the accounts are equal. That is reparations!
Two years ago, Ta-Nehisi Coates reignited long-standing debates around reparations. His case for reparations details the moral and material debts Americans have accrued from centuries of profiting off of systemic racism. The country will never be whole, Coates argues, until Americans reckon with the fact that “America begins in black plunder and white democracy, two features that are not contradictory but complementary.”
Honestly, given how terrible we Whites have been and continue to be to Blacks, I can’t help but feel that some sort of punitive damages are in order, over and above mere restitution. Let’s balance all the bank accounts and also give each and every one, including African and Caribbean migrants who were never subject to antebellum chattel slavery, forty acres and a mule (or perhaps a certified pre-owned passenger sedan?).
Reparations, in this formulation, involve a recognition of the nation’s complicity in past and present oppression as well as concrete actions to rectify those historic wrongs, to pay down those debts.
Some will argue that since we’ve already transferred trillions from White America to Black America in the form of socialist welfare initiatives, we’ve already paid that debt down a few times over. Some will argue that our aggressive Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity Employment legislation, and Civil Rights jurisprudence already explicitly reverses the systemic racism, and has for the lifetime of most of our readers. We racists really ought to just knock it off with all the arguments and give “our” money to Black people.
America was, after all, built by slaves. The term “concrete” is etymologically derived from “cotton-created,” as it’s produced by compressing cotton picked by slaves into roadways, buildings, and even the jails and prisons used to harbor all the Black political prisoners who didn’t do nothing.
As a scholar of Catholics in the United States and as a white Catholic myself, I am keenly aware of the fact that white Catholics—the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Catholic immigrants from Europe—are among the most forceful critics of reparations. None of my ancestors owned slaves, the counterargument goes, so why should I be held responsible for paying someone else’s debt?
My direct paternal ancestor actually did own several slaves, so I can’t use this argument. I would perhaps argue that his grievous injuries, extended stay in Hellmira, and loss of his entire estate in the war entails that my debt has already been paid by him. But even then, I probably have even more slavery blood libel on one or more of my maternal lineages. Negro sweat be on my hands, and on my children!
I’ve thus been following recent events at Georgetown University with avid admiration. Georgetown, the oldest Catholic and Jesuit university in the United States, spent the past year confronting its complicity in the institution of slavery.
Wow! That’s excellent! What’s there for an anti-white to complain about there?
Georgetown plans to rename buildings that honor the presidents involved in the infamous 1838 slave sale after Isaac Hawkins, one of the 272 enslaved people sold, and after Anne Marie Becraft, a black religious sister and educator. And to establish an Institute for the Study of Slavery and Its Legacies. And to dedicate a public memorial to the enslaved who built the school. And to offer preferential admissions treatment to the descendants of those enslaved people.
Way to take the lead, Georgetown! True pioneers in anti-White pandering! They’ve really guaranteed that nobody’s going to nag them for even more gimme dats. Nobody can criticize the nature and scope of this restitution!
One can indeed criticize the nature and the scope of the restitution.
Some descendants of the enslaved, for instance, have called for descendants themselves to have a more active role in the decision-making process and have argued for more extensive scholarship support, among other things.
Apparently, it still wasn’t quite enough.
This “revolution of the American consciousness” is at the heart of the case I want to make for reparations, a case I make precisely because I am a white Catholic. It would be all too easy to draw the wrong conclusion from Georgetown’s reparations, modest though they may be. It is tempting to celebrate this moment in American Catholic history as a triumph, to enjoy some self-congratulation.
Less self-congratulation, more self-flagellation.
We can all comfortably condemn the “original evil that shaped the early years of the Republic,” as Dr. DeGioia called it.
We’re not even pretending it’s not straight-up theological blood libel anymore. I imagine the captivity itself would be amended to feature Blacks now if the spot weren’t already occupied by the one group even higher in the progressive stack.
But what about the evils of the centuries that followed? What of the present? How are white Catholics complicit in the crisis facing black women, men, and children today—when black people die at the hands of the police and the state in numbers reminiscent of Jim Crow–era lynchings, when we have to demand that black lives matter in the face of a society that insists otherwise?
Our statistically insignificant genocide of Black youths is just as statistically insignificant as the historical one?
Do Catholics have a unique responsibility to make reparations for racial injustice in America? Even those Catholics who have no direct connection to the slave trade?
Spoiler Alert: YES!
Another counterargument, still compelling to many, is the fact that white Catholics have their own story of exclusion. Our people arrived after slavery, the story goes, and when we arrived we were persecuted.
Shit. Do I owe White Catholics money now, too?
Over the better part of a century, Catholics rose from despised foreigners to the most patriotic of Americans. By 1960 we even had a Catholic in the White House to show for it.
So we’ve demonstrated that people can bounce back from oppression within mere decades? And we’ve confirmed that electing a member of the group to the Presidency proves that the group is no longer oppressed? Blacks have had even more time to recover than Catholics and we elected a black dude just a few years ago. So we’re square, right?
White Catholics count ourselves among the greatest beneficiaries of the American dream and thus dare not think, let alone speak aloud, the fact that our Dream was built on profits plundered from Black women, men, and children.
If the American Dream boils down to taking money from Black people, perhaps we should think twice about granting amnesty to all those illegal immigrant “Dreamer” kids. If they’re all plotting to oppress Black people, let’s build a wall and keep them out. Since every group apparently exploits Blacks, the safe bet is to not allow any more groups in…at least until we figure out what’s going on. A temporary ban.
So how did Catholic immigrants become white Americans? One historical moment provides clear insight into this question: the years following World War II. The distinguished service of Catholic soldiers in the first and especially the second World War placed American Catholic patriotism virtually beyond reproach. And, like many veterans returning from war, Catholics took advantage of the opportunities offered by the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (popularly known as the G.I. Bill). The federal government provided World War II veterans with financial support to attend high school and college, low-cost loans to buy new homes and start businesses, even unemployment compensation.
Black veterans also received the same opportunities. The fact that they squandered them (and would surely squander reparations) is beside the point. We must keep pouring more water into the bucket and not ask about the hole in the bucket.
White Catholics must acknowledge our shared history and embrace its consequences. This is what Coates has in mind when he maintains, “we must imagine a new country. Reparations—by which I mean the full acceptance of our collective biography and its consequences—is the price we must pay to see ourselves squarely. … What I’m talking about is a national reckoning that would lead to a spiritual renewal.”
Could it be any more obvious that American Christianity has been subverted by a bizarre New Age cult which substitutes all of the theology and symbology for anti-White racial politics? The demand that we sell everything we have and hand over our wealth in order to enter a new era of racial nirvana is the American state religion, a religion imposed as firmly and pervasively as any historical despotism’s state religion.
In his address, Dr. DeGioia noted the “substantial financial impact” of the university’s plans to atone for its complicity in slavery. It is well past time for white Catholics to reconcile ourselves to the fullness of our history and the consequences it has for us today. It is time for us to pay our debts.
No. It’s time for us to disentangle ourselves from this death cult and forge our own future. It’s past time, actually. The nightmare swarm of hostile tribes and their brainwashed cultist White liberals are rapidly approaching the point where they can carry out their naked plot to humiliate us, impoverish us, and deprive us of our basic survival conditions. Georgetown just wasted untold millions entrusted to them for education on appeasing a radical political racket which cannot and will not be appeased until the last White man chokes.