The city of Chicago is proposing a $5.5 million reparations package for those who suffered under the ruthless rule of police commander Jon Burge from 1972 to 1991. Backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the plan would supply victims with free college tuition, counseling for drug abuse and psychological issues, and include a formal apology from the city, according to the Chicago Tribune.
While the plan appears to be an attempt to reckon with part of the city's less-than-spotless past, Thursday evening Fox Business Network's Charles Payne said he's afraid nationwide slavery reparations might be next.
"The news in my mind is a glimpse of really much bigger news that is going to come from the White House," he said. "I think that there’s going to be an official apology from the White House for slavery in America and then there's going to be a major push to get cash. And I’m talking lots of cash.”
Payne, who is black, argued that it would be counterproductive to dwell on the tragedies of the past. He speculated that President Obama would make his push for slavery reparations next year.
“I actually think it would be a major mistake," Payne said. "Instead, Obama should really discuss and focus on all of the progress we have made and how all Americans need to move forward for better days for all of our kids.”
A panel of guests joined Payne, and seemed to echo his views.
"Sure, slavery was a horrible thing that happened, but this is not going to help race relations in the United States today,” Tea Party News Network's Scottie Nell Hughes said. "It would be different if presidents today were affected themselves by something that happened back in the 1800s, but unfortunately, now all its going to do is cause more tension among the races."
The issue of monetary compensation for the injustices of slavery was once again an issue of national debate last year after Ta-Nehisi Coates' reported essay "The Case for Reparations" appeared on the cover of The Atlantic. The piece chronicled the history of Chicago's racist housing policies, as well as the evolution of the author's own thinking on the issue.
"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," Coates wrote. "The recovering alcoholic may well have to live with his illness for the rest of his life. But at least he is not living a drunken lie. Reparations beckons us to reject the intoxication of hubris and see America as it is -- the work of fallible humans."
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