Each of these texts argues against reparations claims, albeit in drastically different forms. The two pieces by David Horowitz, a conservative writer from the United States, argues that reparations claims are racist, in that they generalize African American experiences of racial discrimination, and would produce unwanted racial separatism. John Torpey’s book, while acknowledging the history of racism and segregation that underlies claims for reparations, argues that these claims are backwards looking and that addressing racial inequality requires forward looking political projects. Adolph Reed argues against reparations from the left, critiquing the racial essentialism that underlies such claims. Finally, Stephen Kershnar argues against reparations from a legal scholar’s perspective.
Horowitz, David. “Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Blacks is a Bad Idea for Blacks – and Racist Too.” Published online, January 3, 2001.
Horowitz, David. Uncivil Wars: The Controversy Over Reparations for Slavery. San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2002.
Kershnar, Stephen. Justice for the Past. SUNY Press: 2004.
In this book, Stephen Kershnar examines the legal and political arguments for reparations for slavery and affirmative action and argues that they are not justified on that basis.
Reed Jr., Adolph. “The Case Against Reparations.” The Progressive (2000).
Torpey, John. Making Whole What Has Been Smashed. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006.
John Torpey offers a skeptical appraisal of the reparations movement in the United States through a global perspective. By examining the aftermath of reparations movements throughout the globe, Torpey suggests that reparations claims may ultimately disempower efforts to bring about a better future. However, unlike bad faith critics of reparations, Torpey does not dismiss the grounds for reparations claims altogether.