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HBO’s John Oliver Demands Reparations For Black Americans, Argues Against Color-Blind Policies

'Our failure to effectively target solutions based on race has doomed potential fixes in the past'
Dan MacMedan/WireImage/Getty Images

John Oliver, host of HBO’s fake news show, “Last Week Tonight,” believes the U.S. government should pay monetary restitution to black Americans to compensate for the country’s past racism. “The only really strange thing about [it],” he argued Sunday night, “is that we haven’t done it yet.”

Citing Ta-Nehisi Coates’ 2014 Atlantic article, “The Case for Reparations,” the British comedian based his argument not on slavery but on housing discrimination.

Oliver said the history of race and land ownership in America has “many horrifying chapters, pretty much from chapter one when America was discovered from under other people’s feet.”

Despite the fact that the Fair Housing Act, first enacted in 1968, makes it illegal to consider race or skin color in the sale of homes, Oliver contended that minorities still face discrimination when it comes to federal mortgage loans and home appraisals.

The comedian also blasted color-blind proposals like Joe Biden’s $15,000 first-time homebuyer tax-credit and made an argument specifically for race-based policies:

Hold on there Joe. For everybody? That may sound great but it also fundamentally dilutes what you’re actually trying to achieve here. Because we’ve immediately gone from targeted investment in black home ownership to a broad tax credit for everybody. And we sure do suddenly seem to become a rainbow coalition just as soon as the federal government starts handing out cash, don’t we?

Our failure to effectively target solutions based on race has doomed potential fixes in the past. In the seventies we passed the Community Reinvestment Act requiring banks to approve loans in low-income neighborhoods. But we didn’t specify who the loans had to go to.

The 44-year-old then specifically said reparations needs to be a federal policy because “ultimately, this isn’t something cities or states can do on their own.”

“It took the power and resources of the federal government to enforce racism on this scale,” Oliver said, “and only the federal government can truly grapple with the consequences.”

“When you deprive somebody of something, you make it right by paying what you owe,” Oliver concluded, though he admitted that transferring wealth from one group of citizens to another would be a complex undertaking. “Now, figuring out exactly how to pay might well get complicated,” he said. “But realizing that you have to should be pretty simple, because this is a wound that we are actively choosing not to heal ― and it is hurting real people every day.”

Most research on reparations investigates Americans’ feelings on payments for slavery, not housing discrimination, but polling shows the proposal is extremely unpopular. According to a July 2020 survey from Reuters/Ipsos, only 20% of voters favor the idea, including just one in three Democrats. Even among black respondents, only half think reparations are a good idea.

Black Republicans like Congressman Burgess Owens of Utah vehemently oppose reparations on the grounds that it would build dependence into the black community. “Slavery was and still is an evil,” he said in reaction to reparations legislation introduced in the House earlier this year. “Reparation is divisive. It speaks to the fact that we are a hapless, hopeless race that never did anything but wait for White people to show up and help us, and it’s a falsehood.”

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  HBO’s John Oliver Demands Reparations For Black Americans, Argues Against Color-Blind Policies