Fusion: Cut 'Excessive Defense Spending' to Pay Reparations for Slavery

On Tuesday's America With Jorge Ramos, Fusion's Nando Vila advanced the left-wing cause of reparations to the descendants of slaves in the U.S. Vila asserted that "the moral case for reparations is a clear one. Black people are 16 times poorer than white people, because white people have systematically stolen wealth from black people for hundreds of years — through slavery, Jim Crow, housing discrimination, and various other crimes." He later suggested that one way to pay reparations would be to "pull it from elsewhere in the budget...like our excessive defense spending." [video below]

Vila led his report by bragging about how he "caused a bit of stir when I asked Bernie Sanders about reparations." Sanders replied to the Fusion director's question by revealing that he didn't support reparations. Vila played up how leftist author Ta-Nehisi Coates, whom he labeled "the most important political writer in America," was apparently "not happy with his [Sanders's] answer."

The Fusion contributor, who recently compared Ted Cruz to Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars, continued with his slanted "moral case for reparations." Vila also claimed that "reparations have historical precedent. In 1988, Ronald Reagan authorized reparations to Japanese Americans who were forced into internment camps during World War II. And immediately after the Civil War, we came very close to giving 40 acres and a mule to freed slaves."

Vila spent the second half of the segment by outlining a possible plan for reparations. He cited Duke University Professor William Darity and deceased Yale Law academic Boris Bittker's proposals for paying the descendants of slaves. He also dropped his "excessive defense spending" line in a list of ways of funding reparations.

The contributor concluded the segment by noting that "if you're left balking at the dollar figures thrown about, there's good reason for that. There are hundreds of years of slavery and Jim Crow and other forms of systemic racism. We owe a lot — more than we could ever pay." He added that "reparations are not just meant to repair the financial injury; but also, the moral one. America has never formally apologized for slavery, and has never gone through a reconciliation process. American democracy was built on the plunder of black people. It's time that we acknowledge that, and begin the process of atoning for it."

This isn't the first time in recent weeks that Fusion, the joint project between ABC and Univision, has boosted the cause of reparations. Back on January 11, 2016, Rembert Browne, who was moderating the network's Iowa Brown and Black Forum, asked Hillary Clinton, "Do you think 2016 is the year — kind of, on the federal level, we should start studying reparations?"

The full transcript of Nando Vila's report from the February 2, 2016 edition of Fusion's America With Jorge Ramos:

JORGE RAMOS: The 2016 presidential campaign will likely be decided by issues like gun control and immigration and abortion. But what about reparations? The controversial topic is already part of the news cycle.

So America contributor Nando Vila put this piece together for us to give it all some thought.

NANDO VILA (from pre-recorded interview): A lot of African Americans are starting to call for reparations for the many years of stolen labor through slavery. Is that something that you would support as president?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. I don't think so.

VILA (on-camera): So I caused a bit of stir when I asked Bernie Sanders about reparations. Ta-Nehisi Coates, the most important political writer in America, was not happy with his answer.

TA-NEHISI COATES (from MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes): It was dismissed on pragmatic terms. But those are not the terms of the rest of Bernie Sanders's platform!

VILA: The moral case for reparations is a clear one. Black people are 16 times poorer than white people, because white people have systematically stolen wealth from black people for hundreds of years — through slavery, Jim Crow, housing discrimination, and various other crimes.

And it's worth noting that reparations have historical precedent. In 1988, Ronald Reagan authorized reparations to Japanese Americans who were forced into internment camps during World War II. And immediately after the Civil War, we came very close to giving 40 acres and a mule to freed slaves. Those efforts were abolished after Lincoln's assassination. And since 1989, Congressman John Conyers has introduced a bill in every Congress, called H.R. 40, which would formally study the issue of reparations. It has never made it to the House floor.

But what would reparations actually look like? There are a few scholars who have been studying this issue for a long time. One is Dr. William Darity from Duke. He says the first step is to establish a criteria (sic) for eligibility.

WILLIAM DARITY, DUKE UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: I've come to the view that there should be two criteria. The first is that the individual should have to establish that he or she had an ancestor who was enslaved in the United States. And then, the second criteria would be, for at least 10 years before the onset of the reparations program, that, in some official document, that he or she indicated that they were racially either black, colored, Negro, or African American.

VILA: Then, you have to study how you valued reparations. Now, obviously, no amount of money could ever redress the horrible crimes committed upon African Americans. But here's Darity's suggestion—

DARITY: The baseline, from my perspective, is the present value of the 40 acres and the implements or the mule.

VILA: Another suggestion came from Yale Law Professor Boris Bittker, who wrote a book way back in 1973. He proposed calculating a total sum for reparations by taking the number of African Americans in the country and multiplying it by the difference between white and black per capita income. Back then, the number was $34 billion — which he suggested pay out every year for ten to twenty years.

Well, the next glaring question is, how do we pay for this? Well, there are a few options — one: non-blacks could pay extra taxes; or we could borrow the money by issuing bonds; or we could pull it from elsewhere in the budget — you know, like our excessive defense spending. I know; I know.

Now, these are just some proposals that are currently on the table. They're not the only ones. If you're left balking at the dollar figures thrown about, there's good reason for that. There are hundreds of years of slavery and Jim Crow and other forms of systemic racism. We owe a lot — more than we could ever pay.

Reparations are not just meant to repair the financial injury; but also, the moral one. America has never formally apologized for slavery, and has never gone through a reconciliation process. American democracy was built on the plunder of black people. It's time that we acknowledge that, and begin the process of atoning for it.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center