Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s fame created quite a stir on Independence Day when they admonished fellow countrymen to return their land to Native Americans. The backlash was fast and furious, spurring patriots to don their MAGA hats and Trump-Rambo tee-shirts.
Having said this, I must confess I’m at least somewhat aligned with the pathetic old hippies from Vermont on this particular issue in that I believe the treatment of Native Americans for hundreds of years was a tragedy. It’s difficult not to feel empathy when reading about the infamous Trail of Tears, which has become a symbol of Native American oppression.
Today, however, things are quite different for Native Americans. It’s a complicated situation, because there are 574 recognized native tribes in the United States, but by and large Native Americans have the same rights as all other Americans. Different tribes have different advantages, ranging from self-governance to wholly owned gambling casinos and oil-drilling rights, but no Native American is forced to live on a reservation or anywhere else, nor is he prevented from entering any occupation he chooses.
Beyond this, however, there is never going to be any significant transfer of land rights from U.S. citizens and companies to Native Americans. Regardless of your sentiments on the subject, what rules the day is a bothersome little item called reality. Unfortunately, reality is anathema to those on the radical left, because it points to the way the world actually is rather than the way they think it should be.
The desire to repent for the sins of our forefathers is not limited to the belief that Americans should give some, most, or all land in the United States “back” to Native Americans. It’s similar to the desire of many people to pay reparations to descendants of slaves, another issue that will be settled by — you guessed it — reality.
As has often been pointed out, the United States has already paid a steep price to atone for the sin of slavery in the form of more than 600,000 deaths that resulted from the Civil War. As a direct result of this sacrifice, today’s descendants of slaves possess the same rights as every other citizen.
Further, while there are those who insist the system is rigged against people of color, the fact is that millions of African-Americans have succeeded in all fields of endeavor, from law and medicine all the way up to the office of president of the United States. It’s a tough pill for race baiters to swallow, but so-called structural racism simply does not exist in the United States.
Nevertheless, there are millions of people, both black and white, who cling to the past and demand special treatment for descendants of slaves. This is a counterproductive state of mind for those holding out hope that the big cash giveaway is just around the corner, because the promise of major reparations is a cruel hoax that will never happen. That, however, does not mean politicians and race charlatans will stop using it as a political tool in their ongoing efforts to divide and conquer.
Whether it’s giving land to Native Americans or handing out cash to descendants of slaves, the reality of history is that assimilation is much more practical than demands for reparations. A good example of this is England, which was part of the Roman Empire for three centuries. After Rome collapsed, the Anglo-Saxons took control of the country and, finally, the Norman invasion of 1066 A.D. gave England its current political and cultural structure.
None of these occupations resulted in negotiations to return land or pay reparations, and today, nearly a thousand years after the Norman conquest, the legitimacy of the British Royal Family is still firmly in place. For England, it was a case of assimilation winning out over reparations, which has made it the most civilized country on the face of the earth.
Justice Clarence Thomas tells a great story about his childhood that explains in visual terms why racial reparations are counterproductive. He said that when he was a young boy, he often played marbles with friends. During one particular game, two of the boys got in an argument over the rules, which in turn resulted in a brawl that scattered all the marbles in every direction.
Thomas says that after order was finally restored, “We didn’t take the time to try to sort out which marbles belonged to which players. We just wanted to play, so we accepted everyone’s current marble count and continued on with the game.”
The harsh reality is that every country on the globe is now controlled by descendants of people who took control of the country by force. It’s called life, and we all know that life isn’t always fair. That being the case, the best path forward for both indigenous people like Native Americans and displaced people like African-Americans is to assimilate into Western culture and move ahead by emphasizing sound character and accomplishment, not monetary or land reparations for the sins of those who are no longer with us.