Call it American history à la carte. Over at the Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates, the magazine’s national correspondent, has written a long and instructive piece titled “The Case for Reparations.” In which Coates supports Congressman John Conyers’s H.R. 40, the Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act.
Let me start here by saying I don’t doubt Mr. Coates’s sincerity. And since one of his objectives is doubtless to launch a serious discussion on the issue of race and specifically the issue of reparations, I’m happy to oblige. This is a long and serious article. Yet for all of the facts and passion, Coates never gets around to the Great Unmentionable. He begins with this subheadline: “Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.”