August 18, 2004


Keyes has plan for reparations: He would exempt blacks from taxes (Allison Benedikt and David Mendell, 8/17/04, Chicago Tribune)

Prompted by a reporter's question, Keyes gave a brief tutorial on Roman history and said that in regard to reparations for slavery, the U.S. should do what the Romans did: "When a city had been devastated [in the Roman empire], for a certain length of time--a generation or two--they exempted the damaged city from taxation."

Keyes proposed that for a generation or two, African-Americans of slave heritage should be exempted from federal taxes--federal because slavery "was an egregious failure on the part of the federal establishment." [...]

The former ambassador said his plan would give African-Americans "a competitive edge in the labor market," because those exempted would be cheaper to hire than federal tax-paying employees and would "compensate for all those years when your labor was being exploited."

Under Keyes' plan, African-Americans would still have to pay the Social Security tax, because "it's not a tax in the strict sense," said Keyes, calling it instead a payment to support a social insurance program.

That'll have Mr. Obama squirming.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 18, 2004 12:03 AM

Yeah, but it seems to show that Keyes isn't conservative but crazy. This dude will Obama more of a landslide than Jack Ryan. Out of the frying pan, into the fire. and I used to like Alan Keyes!

Posted by: at August 18, 2004 12:15 AM

Of course Ryan would have had a better shot, but Keyes will drive Obama crazy.

Posted by: oj at August 18, 2004 12:21 AM

Were that I were to be alive two generations down the line to see the political gamesmanship that would take place between Republicans and Democrats when it came time to reinstate the federal taxes on African-American descendants of slaves...

Posted by: John at August 18, 2004 12:54 AM

It's genious. Means test it. The blacks who have any need for reparations already don't pay taxes.

Posted by: some random person at August 18, 2004 1:01 AM

This is a great stroke in response to reparations. If Keyes keeps this up, Mr. Obama will be squirming out of a committment to so much as one debate.

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at August 18, 2004 1:17 AM

I'd love to see Keyes' guidelines for determining who qualifies...or who in the hell thought that reparations was an effective strategy for reaching out to black voters. Especially given all the times Obama's mentioned it, which amount to...none.

Posted by: jesse at August 18, 2004 1:50 AM

So when do the American Indians get reparations/no taxes for the broken treaties? Japanese for the internment camps? Catholics for the discrimination against them by Protestants in the 19th century? How about the Irish?

What would Obama get? His taxes cut in half because he's still half-white? Would Colin Powell, as a descendant of Carribean immigrants, qualify or not?

This idea is disastrous. The wind is being sown.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at August 18, 2004 2:39 AM

Keyes' candidacy is a gift to conservative policy wonks. He won't win, but we'll have a lot of fun.

Chris: Slavery is the rock upon which the Republic will founder. Those other issues are the sand on which we walk.

Posted by: David Cohen at August 18, 2004 7:41 AM

This will be like the first post-Thatcher election in the UK where it was said that "Major won the election but Kinnock won the campaign." Keyes is winning the campaign and having a rip-roaring good time doing it.

Posted by: at August 18, 2004 8:25 AM

That was me. Hit "post" too soon.

Posted by: jeff at August 18, 2004 8:27 AM


We compensated the surviving Japanese Americans and the Indians have their own nations. We could always give blacks a couple states.

Posted by: oj at August 18, 2004 8:40 AM

"We could always give blacks a couple states."

We've already given them a complete nation.


Posted by: h-man at August 18, 2004 8:49 AM


Exactly. So now Obama can oppose them, and stay in good with whitey but alienate the activists who support him or come out in favor and damage his national aspirations.

Posted by: oj at August 18, 2004 8:51 AM

As for why he thought it would appeal to black voters, it does:

Posted by: oj at August 18, 2004 8:54 AM

Kerry apparently supports reparations, or at least the preliminary step towards them:

Posted by: at August 18, 2004 9:27 AM


Actually he was against it before he was in favor of it, or is that vice-versa??

Posted by: h-man at August 18, 2004 9:47 AM

Well it WAS just a Kerry campaign response to a questionnaire from the NAACP not an actual speech in the senate of something...but maybe now someone will actually ask him about it.

And I am Marie of Rumania.

Posted by: at August 18, 2004 9:51 AM

Yeah, we may have compensated the original Japanese American interns, but we haven't compensated their descendants. According to reparation ideology, we need to compensate Japanese Americans who won't be born for another 150 years.

And as for the American Indians, we've always broken our treaties with them, and we didn't give them any land, we took theirs. The land they have is simply whatever desolate waste is left over.

But what about everyone else? When does my Irish Catholic family get some government cheese or tax break? "No Irish, No Blacks" was the sign on the door. The Klan burned crosses on their front yeards. The Know Nothings wanted to kick the Catholics out. They were lynched. People denied them jobs. For much of the 19th Century it was obvious that the Irish were not "white," and in one census was even it's own racial category.

If we're going to start giving out money to people simply because they complain loud enough, I'm going to start complaining real loud. And so will everyone else. I hope you got enough money, OJ, to keep the government solvent. You may be the only one still around that pays taxes.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at August 18, 2004 11:45 AM

Those idiot Republicans could have dug up
any old "mick" or "cracka" (with a reasonable clean sheet) and gotten him elected. They have basically dug up a minority fringe candidate to try to defeat another minority fringe candidate.

Posted by: J.H. at August 18, 2004 12:09 PM

And done it as political theater -- something we need in this age of nuance-uber-alles, pre-focus-grouped sound bites, and spin-doctor-micromanaged campaigns.

Let the campaign get wild and crazy -- it's an old American tradition.

Posted by: Ken at August 18, 2004 12:34 PM

Chris M., supra, is on the right track. What we would need to do is to develop a scientific way to determine just what percentage of a person's genetic background was "black."

We could call this "racial science," or in the original German, "Rassengewissenschaft." Surely DNA technology could supplement the traditional techniques of skull measurement and armpit-sniffing used in the good old days.

Posted by: Lou Gots at August 18, 2004 1:12 PM

Keyes sounds like a carpetbagger to me.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at August 18, 2004 1:44 PM

Can you steal something from someone that they don't believe they own?

Posted by: AML at August 18, 2004 5:16 PM

Orrin: would you be sure to post when the debates between these two are going down and what channels they might be carries on? I certainly hope SOMEONE will carry them (Fox News? -- C-SPAN?) because they will be very entertaining and enlightening. THANKS!

Posted by: GG at August 18, 2004 6:01 PM


You'd think Tim Russert would get them instead of Daschle & Thune.

Posted by: oj at August 18, 2004 8:00 PM

Keyes is running in at least his fifth election (lost the last four in his home state) in Illinois. A State where he did not live before his nomination. Surely there is at least one "Good Republican" in Illinois who could better speak for me and my Illinois neighbors.
Keyes has not demonstrated how he would serve Illinois and has no record here to stand on.
At least Jack Ryan had been a servant of Illinois as has Obama. Rhetoric is rhetoric, personally I need an Illinoisian to look out for my families best interest.
I have lost enough elections in more arenas than I will count to not even think about trying it aagain. Maybe Keyes has run so much that he doesn't have a real job now. Opps, I hope he does
or he will not reap his reparation benefit!


Posted by: ek at August 23, 2004 3:46 PM