Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Growing Up Gotti

i) Caucasians sometimes respond to the allegation of white privilege by pointing out they weren't alive back then, or their linear ancestors never owned slaves. 
Liberals retort that you can be a beneficiary of past injustice. Even though you didn't personally do anything wrong, you benefit from the wrongdoing of your white forebears. For instance, Carmine Agnello, Jr., John Gotti Agnello, and Frank Gotti Agnello financially benefit from having had a Mafia Don for a father. 
Likewise, white Americans profit from living on "stolen land." Land stolen from American Indians. Today's white Americans benefit from the economic legacy of slave labor. So goes the argument. 
ii) There are, however, some fundamental problems with the argument. To begin with, it proves too much.
Assuming the premise is true, then it's not just white Americans who benefit from past injustice. Americans of every race and ethnicity benefit from past injustice. It's not just white Americans who are squatters on Indian land. 
And assuming that our economic infrastructure was built on the backs of slave labor (which is a huge exaggeration), it's not just contemporary white Americans who prosper from that legacy. 
iii) In addition, the claim that contemporary Americans live on stolen land is, to some extent, exaggerated or anachronistic. 
For starters, isn't the concept of land ownership more appropriate to farmers than foragers? Take the difference between farmers and ranchers. Ranchers need grazing rights. They don't necessarily need to own grazing land. They just need access to grazing land. Land use rather than land ownership. 
Likewise, some nomadic societies track the migratory patterns of fish or game animals. It's not territorial in the sense of owning the land, but having access to seasonal hunting or fishing grounds. 
I'm not saying that's true of all Indian societies. But that's why we need to guard against hasty generalizations. 
iv) Furthermore, Indian tribes raided other Indian tribes. So the question private ownership becomes very blurred very fast. 


  1. Socialism is in and of itself benefitting from injustice; ie the presumption of entitlement leading to putting one's hand into one's neighbor's pocket.

  2. That raises an interesting question from a biblical perspective. Now, North America is here and what's done is done - the (non-native) people who first started inhabiting America had their own worldview and did what they deemed appropriate for their place and time (presumably, anyways).

    But supposing we could do it again, what do you think would be the best approach for a Bible believer to approach a new country with its own set of inhabitants? Would you do anything differently?

    1. One possibility might have been to trade European know-how (e.g. technology) for Indian land. They had something of value to us, and we had something of value to them. And there was plenty of sparsely populated land for both groups.

    2. A good response, thank you Steve.

  3. This reminds me of the "reparations" that African American Dem congresscritters sometimes demand. But the Muslims used to enslave Africans. Why don't they ask for reparations from Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. The Muslims also tried to invade Europe many times. Given the economic slump Europe is going through, why don't they also demand free oil from the Middle East as well, for reparations.

    It's hard to take these people seriously, since probably everyone belongs to a group that some other group oppressed at one point or another. Can't we just call it even?