, New York state gave at the office.
Or, more precisely, on the battlefields of the most lethal war in American history — fought fundamentally, and successfully, to end slavery.
So it’s just bizarre that seven-plus generations after the Empire State itself abolished slavery — in 1827! — New Yorkers who never owned slaves are to be asked to pony up to “
That last bit is by now a cliché, of course — but this says more about the reparations movement’s growing ubiquity than it does about its moral or intellectual integrity.
Now New York is to get a full ration of reparations bushwa: Albany intends to establish a commission to “study” the matter — though if is a fair measure, the only real question will be the size of the proposed payout.
Oh, for sure, proponents say it isn’t about the cash.
“Reparations is not just a paycheck,” says Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages of Long Island. “It’s much more. It’s atoning.” (Wink, wink.)
Ah, yes. Well sorry, Ms. Solages — New York atoned in advance.
The Empire State was energetically abolitionist long before Fort Sumter.
And, because all war first and foremost is about logistics, it was Wall Street that made possible the morally redemptive conflict that followed.
Then there is this: New York sent more men to that war than did any other state — 465,000-plus, exceeding 20% of its male population. And, astonishingly, fully 50% of its men younger than 30 went to the colors.
Some 11%, or roughly 50,000 soldiers, never came home — again, more than any other state. (By contrast, 3.5% of Americans under arms in World War II perished.)
Plus this: New York’s famed Irish Brigade, the 69th Volunteer Infantry, was drawn largely from New York City’s Irish immigrants.
It effectively was destroyed in combat three times, reconstituted twice and finally disbanded after being shattered yet again in the spring of 1864.
So does the Irish Brigade’s sanguinary history give contemporary Irish-American New Yorkers a pro-rata claim to reparations of their own?
Don’t be ridiculous. All of this happened more than 150 years ago — long enough, blood sacrifices aside, to stamp all bills paid.
This isn’t to suggest African Americans don’t have a claim on America’s conscience.
Clearly they do, and for myriad reasons. But New York and the nation have been struggling with that debt for decades — with largely unacknowledged, yet quite relevant, success.
Enough success, that is, to show that the reparations argument revolves around cynicism, grievance-mongering and political manipulation.
Certainly the claim fails to acknowledge that African-Americans now comprise one of the nation’s most potent political blocs.
Nowhere is this more true than in New York.
Seven of the state’s nine most prominent, powerful office-holders are black: Attorney General Letitia James; Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado; Court of Appeal chief judge Rowan Wilson; Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie; Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins; New York Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Council Speaker Adrianne Adams.
Nobody reasonably claims that New York’s black community is without its problems – but if those folks can’t fix ‘em, or at least make a respectable start, then who can?
But will they? Judging from the current debate on, say, public education and safe streets, probably not.
But will they then pay a price for failure? Also doubtful.
Stirring up rancor with a bogus reparations commission is a much smoother road to reelection than confronting, say, the teachers’ union or woke DAs.
And this, in the end, probably is the point.
So hunker down, New York. Here comes the rancor.