To commemorate CNN’s recent purge of Don Lemon, let’s revisit one of his saddest on-air moments from a 17-year-career full of them.
Back in a segment featuring a proxy for the British Crown that aired in September 2022, Lemon thought he would squeeze in a rhetorical shot at Great Britain’s past involvement in the global slave trade (emphasis on global, meaning it was not confined to a single European nation).
It didn’t go as planned for Don.
Lemon: “England is facing rising costs of living, a living crisis, austerity budget cuts, and so on. And then you have those who are asking for reparations for colonialism, and they’re wondering, you know, $100 billion, $24 billion here and there, $500 million there. Some people want to be paid back, and members of the public are wondering, ‘Why are we suffering when you are, you know, you have all of this vast wealth?’ Those are legitimate concerns.”
Crown Proxy: “Well, I think you’re right about reparations in terms of if people want it, though, what they need to do is you always need to go back to the beginning of a supply chain.
Where was the beginning of the supply chain? That was in Africa, and when it crossed the entire world, when slavery was taking place, which was the first nation in the world that abolished slavery? The first nation world to abolish it, it was started by William Wilberforce, was the British. In Great Britain, they abolished slavery.
Two thousand naval men died on the high seas trying to stop slavery. Why? Because the African kings were rounding up their own people, they had them on cages waiting in the beaches. No one was running into Africa to get them. And I think you’re totally right.
If reparations need to be paid, we need to go right back to the beginning of that supply chain and say, ‘Who was rounding up their own people and having them handcuffed in cages?’ Absolutely. That’s where they should start. And maybe, I don’t know, the descendants of those families where they died at the, in the high seas trying to stop the slavery, that those families should receive something too, I think, at the same time.”
Because Don Lemon is literally the dumbest man on television, the only response he could muster was: “It’s an interesting discussion” before cutting to break.
He was obviously unequipped to deal with any kind of substantive retort from his guest. All he saw was an upper-crust white woman. So he instinctively moved on her, expecting her to respond with the kind reflexive submissiveness he surely is accustomed to from the white liberal women in his all-white neighborhood.
The crown’s proxy presumably didn’t literally mean that African nations that sold Africans into slavery should be financially liable for the crimes of centuries past.
Rather, her retort exposed the moral rot at the core of demands for reparations for a practice abolished two hundred years ago by Britain – the first nation in history, incidentally, to formally outlaw it.
Reparations, by the way, would be for the benefit of people who were never slaves — not to mention the practical, logistical nightmare of sorting out victim from oppressor, given the human predilection for interbreeding.
Theoretically, the victimhood vetting would be accomplished via DNA testing to establish an acceptable percentage of aggrieved ethnicity.
(I believe there was another political party in the 1930s and 40s that was also into racial purity tests…)
Or perhaps it would require some bureaucratic clusterfuck involving elaborate documentation of familial lineage — which would almost certainly produce a cottage industry of fraudulent document production to serve the new demand for favorable family trees packed with enslaved ancestors.
Will the fake black Social Justice™ activist posing as a field negro, Shaun King, for instance, get paid?
Even as I propose the following, I realize that it’s is a naïve sentiment. Nevertheless, shouldn’t the thing to do be – taking for granted that righting historical wrongs is the actual goal?
Isn’t looking forward to a better world, not to the past to exacerbate racial tensions, the progressive ideal?
Shouldn’t people of goodwill, of all races, unite to ensure that nothing like chattel slavery is ever allowed to occur again in the West, and to establish the material conditions for equal access to opportunity to all people?
The reparations narrative is a recipe for unending racial strife. No amount of dressing it up in flowery Social Justice™ jargon will ever change that.
Normal, self-respecting white people will never submit to the reparations agenda. The only way to ever transform the pipe dream into actual policy would be through force, which would only serve to fray the already-unraveling social fabric of the West.
Perhaps that’s the point of this whole exercise, after all?
Ben Bartee is an independent Bangkok-based American journalist with opposable thumbs.
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