Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) great-great-grandfather owned slaves, which according to NBC News invalidates his opposition to reparations for the great-great-great-great-grandchildren of black slaves in America.
“McConnell has opposed paying reparations to descendants of slaves, though census records show his family, like many others, benefited from their labor,” reads the report. The “though” reveals the reporters’ hand: you can either descend from slave-owners or oppose reparations, but you can’t do both – at least according to NBC.
If our ancestry determines the validity of our political opinions, does this rule cut both ways? California senator and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris has endorsed some form of reparations for the descendants of slaves. But, like McConnell, Harris, too, descends from slaveowners.
“My roots go back, within my lifetime to my paternal grandmother Miss Chrishy (née Christiana Brown, descendant of Hamilton Brown who is on record as plantation and slave owner and founder of Brown’s Town),” writes Harris’ father Donald in a post for the Jamaican Global. If Mitch McConnell’s slave-owning forebears invalidate his opinion of reparations, how can the same not be true for Kamala Harris?
My own forefathers arrived in America in 1620 on the Mayflower. Two of them fought with the Patriots at Bunker Hill. Simon Knowles lived on to spend the winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge with George Washington. In October 1864, George Cobb Knowles gave his life at the Battle of Boydton Plank Road fighting with the Union Army to free the slaves. Do the admirable feats of my forebears validate my own opposition to present-day Democrats’ radical, redistributive reparation schemes? If McConnell’s and Harris’ morally compromised ancestry leaves the question of reparations in a stalemate, does my opposition — thanks to my estimable progenitors — break the tie?
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