Posted on May 9, 2021

Why Reparations for Slavery Are a Crazy Idea

Jared Taylor, American Renaissance, May 9, 2021

Editor’s Note: This is a transcript of a March 22, 2021 conversation between Jared Taylor of American Renaissance and Whitney Dow of The Whiteness Project. The audio version can be listen to here.

Whitney Dow: [00:00:00] Thank you for joining us, Jared, I appreciate your talking to us about reparations.

Jared Taylor: [00:00:13] It’s my pleasure. Thank you.

Whitney Dow: [00:00:16] First, I was wondering how you would describe yourself. How would you describe what your philosophy is?

Jared Taylor: [00:00:37] I would call myself a race realist. And by that I mean I think policy on race relations has to be based on the facts as we understand them, not on some kind of ideology that ignores the facts. And I think that’s frequently the case in the United States: Ideology ignores the facts.

Whitney Dow: [00:00:57] What sort of policy do you advocate as a race realist?

Jared Taylor: [00:01:04] I certainly do not propose that reparations be paid for slavery, for all sorts of reasons that we’ll get into later. But I think that one of the things we should recognize is that racial diversity is not a strength for any society or any institution or any country, and that generally people are happier living with people like themselves. The United States is based, at least currently, on the idea that simply the fact of mixing together people who are as unlike each other as possible is a source of great strength. I would argue, on the contrary, that it’s a source of tension and weakness.

Whitney Dow: [00:01:39] And so do you advocate a particular course of action for the United States along this line? Resegregation?

Jared Taylor: [00:02:00] I believe in complete freedom of association. That is to say, when people are left to their own devices, generally, as I said, they prefer the company of people like themselves. And if the United States government were simply to recognize this as a natural and healthy thing, then there would be policies that did not stand in the way. On the other hand, if people do wish to mix in a racial or cultural or linguistic or religious manner, they’re free to do so. But we should end this current disapprobation of people who prefer to live in a more culturally or racially coherent society.

Whitney Dow: [00:02:38] Is that why I live in the heart of New York City and you live on some sort of idyllic cul-de-sac somewhere in Virginia?

Jared Taylor: [00:02:46] I’ve made a choice and you’ve made a choice and many Americans make a choice. And I would say that the majority of them reflect a choice to live among people who are similar to themselves. And in fact, the people who decry segregation are always complaining that there seems to be so much of it left. Well, why is so much of it left? I believe that’s because it reflects the natural preferences of most people. If you ask most blacks, would they prefer to live around other people who are black? Most would unhesitatingly say “yes.” Whites would be loath to say that, whereas if you look at what they actually do, you find that that is the way most of them live. In fact, one wag, Joe Sobran, used to say that in their mating and migratory habits, liberals are little different from members of the Ku Klux Klan.

Whitney Dow: [00:03:37] So is the community that you live in, is that mostly white?

Jared Taylor: [00:03:42] It’s a typical suburban community. Yes, it’s mostly white.

Whitney Dow: [00:03:46] This conversation is going to be mostly focused on reparations. So I guess the first question is, do you believe in reparations for formerly enslaved Americans? Are you for it or against it? And if so, why or why not?

Jared Taylor: [00:04:04] I’m against it for a whole host of reasons. First of all, there’s no person alive who was a slave and there’s no person alive who was a slave holder. If you were going to make some kind of narrowly tailored solution, you would presumably track down the descendants of slaveholders today and also the descendants of the slaves and work out something between those parties. But there is no legal theory whatsoever to seek compensation for an act that took place between private parties many years ago, in some cases 100, 200, 300 years ago. If, for example, it turns out that your great-grandfather killed my great-grandfather, murder is worse than slavery, but I have no claim on you. Likewise, the people who are actually descended from slave owners – and that’s a tiny minority of the people of the United States. There is no legal theory whereby they can be made to compensate the descendants of the slaves that their ancestors may once have owned.

Whitney Dow: [00:05:23] And what about immediately after emancipation, when there was Special Order 15 and there was talk of compensating formerly enslaved Americans. Do you believe that the formerly enslaved Americans who were freed from slavery in 1865, that they should have been compensated for slavery?

Jared Taylor: [00:05:44] You could make an argument to that effect, but that did not take place. And, as you know, there is a precedent that many people calling for reparations point to, which is the payments by the federal government to the Asians who were in the camps during the Second World War. The payments went to people still alive, not to the children of those people. Relatives, descendants, they got no compensation at all. So you could argue by that standard that the statute of limitations is finished.

Whitney Dow: [00:06:28] I feel like you hedged a little bit on that answer, Jared. Do you believe that it would have been appropriate for former slaves to receive compensation for slavery immediately after emancipation?

Jared Taylor: [00:06:42] The question was, should compensation have been paid at the time of emancipation? I have never studied that question in any detail. It is certainly true that when there were proposals for emancipation, the idea was generally to compensate the slave owners for their property that was being freed. I don’t believe there was ever any much consideration other than the “40 acres and a mule” proposal to somehow compensate the people who were enslaved at that time. That’s, of course, a debate that should have been had then, and I’m sure it was. And it does us no good now to talk about that, because that’s something that we cannot go back into the past and change.

Whitney Dow: [00:07:29] I’m sure you probably know about the Georgetown University story what are your thoughts on whether Georgetown should be compensating the descendants of the people that they sold?

Jared Taylor: [00:07:50] That is entirely up to Georgetown. If Georgetown wants to do that, it’s free to do so. Nobody’s going to stop them. I think that is a rather strange debate insofar as, again, do they really owe a debt to the distant descendants of people that they may have owned at one time? If you as an individual believe that blacks deserve compensation for the fact that their ancestors were slaves, then there is nothing stopping you from starting a 501(c)3 organization asking for donations from the general public and seeking out the descendants of slaves and giving them money. That would be voluntary. The kind of reparations that are proposed now would be to require the United States government to make those payments. And that, I believe, would be entirely unjust.

Whitney Dow: [00:08:44] Now, it’s sort of very direct to talk about slavery and how people who were enslaved were injured and whether they should or should not [have] received something at the time of emancipation. But do you believe now there are no barriers to success for black Americans in the United States?

Jared Taylor: [00:09:06] Oh, I think you could describe certain barriers, but I think they are vastly, vastly diminished, certainly compared to the past in the United States. In fact, you could argue that American blacks are the richest, most long-lived blacks, not only in the world, but in the history of the world. You could also make the argument that Zora Neale Hurston made, the black poet. She said, “Slavery is the price I paid for civilization.” In other words, she was, in effect, grateful for the fact that her ancestors were brought to the United States, and the she grew up here rather than in Africa. Compared to Africa, for example, the life expectancy of American blacks, although it’s shorter than that of American whites, is 10 years higher than the average life expectancy in Africa. And so if you want to make a strictly cost/benefit analysis, the descendants of slaves living in the United States today are vastly better off than if their ancestors had stayed in Africa.

Whitney Dow: [00:10:15] It’s hard to know. It’s an experiment. You can’t actually run the other direction and see . . .

Jared Taylor: [00:10:33] No, you cannot. But you can look at the way Africans live today and the way American blacks live today, per capita income, life expectancy, all of those things. By all of those standards, blacks living in the United States, whether their ancestors were slaves, are vastly better off than blacks living in sub-Saharan Africa.

Whitney Dow: [00:10:54] So what do you attribute the huge disparity in wealth, education, health outcomes, life expectancy, education, homeownership, between American blacks and American whites? The average household net worth of a black American family is about $11,000. The average net worth of a white American family is about $160,000. And [I’m] wondering, do you think any of this comes from the fact that this group of Americans were formerly enslaved?

Jared Taylor: [00:11:37] No, I don’t think any of that differential comes from the fact of slavery. As a matter of fact, if you do a study of the consequences of emancipation, if you compare at the time of emancipation those free blacks living in the United States and those who are emancipated, you will find that: Yes, in 1880, the children of free blacks were much more likely to be literate, to go to school, and also to have well-paid jobs compared to those who were the children of slaves. In two generations, that differential had almost disappeared to the point that if you were to do a study now of the descendants of free blacks and the descendants of enslaved blacks, you would probably find almost no difference whatsoever in their per capita average outcomes.

Whitney Dow: [00:12:33] So you’re saying that there’s no residual effect of it? And it’s not just slavery: We’re talking about generations. You would you also — I don’t know if you would — but we admit that there was institutionalized segregation, government-sanctioned segregation and discrimination, that black Americans couldn’t access the resources [of] this country for generations after slavery for another — over another hundred years — and you believe that there’s no impact left from that institutionalized and structural discrimination?

Jared Taylor: [00:13:03] There is probably some impact. I think it would be difficult to argue that the effect has been zero. However, if you compare the black economic or social success since the civil rights era, you’re talking about more than 50 years now, more than half a century, and you compare that to the boat people who came to the United States with nothing in their pockets, or you compare that to Hispanic immigrants who have come to the United States, many of them also with nothing in their pockets, as well as immigrants from Haiti, Africa — they are doing much better than American blacks. And if you argue that the problem is some sort of structural white supremacy in the United States, it’s difficult to argue why some of these other non-white groups are doing so much better than blacks. At the same time, as, you know, Asian-Americans on a per capita basis do vastly better than whites in terms of average income, likely to get bachelor’s degrees, any kind of advanced degrees, likelihood of being in jail or having illegitimate children, on all those standards they’re doing better than whites. If the United States is somehow structurally set up to advantage whites over non-whites, it’s certainly not working very well.

Whitney Dow: [00:14:25] So are you making the argument that someone who has the fortitude to come as part of a community, that’s incredibly driven to — whether it’s walk across the desert, sail across an ocean to start a business, join a community here — their success, and how they’ve entered into American society is the same as a group of people that were forcefully kidnapped, brought over here and then any sort of entrepreneurship, any sort of independence, any sort of trying to actually establish something was effectively stamped out of that community. And every time a community, whether it’s Tulsa or Wilmington, start to create an economic thing, the white community essentially attacked it and destroyed it. How can you compare the experience of immigrants with the experience of descendants of slaves?

Jared Taylor: [00:15:27] Sure it adds up. As you point out, there were blacks who started entrepreneurial undertakings in Tulsa and many other places. Just because in the case of Tulsa — and that’s the one people love to talk about — did that fact snuff out the entrepreneurial enterprise of blacks? Did that mean it was eliminated? No, it wasn’t eliminated. That spirit, to the extent that it was to be found — and blacks — moved someplace else. And the idea that blacks are somehow hundreds of years later mentally shackled by the fact that they came as enslaved people makes no sense at all. The blacks living here today were born here. Their ancestors were born here. And somehow the idea that there’s some sort of hereditary mental paralysis that comes from the fact that their ancestors were enslaved, that makes no sense at all. Whites who are born here today, yes, their ancestors came freely, but they were born here. They had no particular choice in being here any more than blacks do. So that is an unfair and I think fruitless comparison

Whitney Dow: [00:16:38] And so, your feeling now is that white Americans have zero debt to black Americans? And I think what you’re saying is that black Americans should be grateful to white Americans that their ancestors were kidnapped and brought over here and enslaved.

Jared Taylor: [00:17:02] I don’t ask them to be grateful. What I’m saying is that it is completely unfair for them to expect the United States government to make payments to them. And that’s the form that almost all proposals for compensation or reparations take: The idea is to go after the government because it has the deep pockets, [but] the federal government never owned a single slave. Slavery was a private practice and slavery began under British rule. If you’re going to go after a government for this, slavery existed under British rule for 157 years, [and] only for about half that time, 89 years, under U.S. rule. If you’re going to blame a government for it, you might as well blame the British government. No one’s even thinking of doing that. Furthermore, if you’re going to blame people in the past for having done this, you should blame the African tribes and African kings who did the slave-catching and sold Africans to European slave traders. No, the idea that the government is somehow to blame — that is the aspect of it that’s absurd to me. Again, if private individuals in the United States think that black people are owed some sort of compensation, then by all means reach into their own pockets and make those payments. But to punish all taxpayers for something for which they had no responsibility, to me, is completely wrong.

Whitney Dow: [00:18:32] Let me make this argument to you then: Essentially, value is like energy. A dollar [amount] — value that was created — in the 1800s is still circulating in the American economy in some way, passing hand-to-hand, accruing value, accruing interest. And so essentially, we have a huge amount of value that was created by people who are not compensated for it — that is still accruing value in this country. Is there no way that you can understand, that you can sort of see the way that some of that value should be passed back to the people who created it?

Jared Taylor: [00:19:12] I suppose you’re making the argument that the United States is wealthy because of slavery —

Whitney Dow: Yes.

Jared Taylor: And that blacks should be compensated for the wealth they created? Well, if slavery was such a huge source of wealth, you would not expect the United States to be particularly wealthy compared to Brazil, for example. Brazil imported 19 times as many slaves as the United States did. We imported only about 300,000 slaves out of the 12.5 million that crossed the Atlantic. The British Caribbean – Jamaica, Barbados, and a few other islands – imported 11 times as many slaves. Why aren’t those places vastly more wealthy than the United States? Likewise, the Dutch colonies in the New World — I bet most of the people who would be listening to this can’t even name one — the Dutch colonies in the new world imported more African slaves than the entire number that went to North America. That’s the Dutch Antilles and Dutch Guiana. So the idea that somehow the presence of slaves was vastly enriching doesn’t hold up under international comparisons.

At the same time, look at the South compared to the North. You could argue, and I think you could argue correctly, that the presence of slavery meant that the Industrial Revolution skipped the South. The industrial production of the South was only 10 percent of all national industrial production. Rhode Island, just before the Civil War, had as much industrial production as the entire South. You could make a strong argument that slavery retarded the development of the entire United States by retarding the development of the South. In 1860, there were 321 public high schools in the whole United States. You know how many there were in the South? Just 30. And Frederick Law Olmsted, who was the fellow who laid out Central Park, he spent five years in the South studying Antebellum society. He was appalled by the misery and the poverty of white Southerners. He also argued, as many abolitionists did, that slavery was economically extremely inefficient. He argued that a hired hand on a farm in the North probably worked about three times as many hours as a typical slave in the South. Many abolitionists were looking forward to applying proper and efficient labor tactics to slaves once they were freed, on the assumption that the labor practices were much more efficient and the nation as a whole would be richer. And so even up until the Civil War and for generations after the Civil War, those parts of the United States that had the largest number of slaves were the poorest. Again, if slavery were such a source of wealth, that would not be the case.

Whitney Dow: [00:22:24] Well, I’m not familiar with your numbers. The numbers that I’ve read [said] that slavery was this huge engine for development. It developed banking structures. It developed shipping. And I think one of the most interesting things is that the cotton gin was developed just in the early 1800s, but an actual cotton picking machine wasn’t developed until the 1920s, I believe. And if you look at how hard field hands work, I think that the average field hand at the turn of the 18th century — I mean in the 19th century — was picking something like 60 to 70 pounds of cotton a day; by 1865 some of them were picking over 400. And so the squeeze point, the hole, was they could process as much cotton. They were building larger ships. They were creating bank instruments that allowed people to create, to mortgage, their slaves . . . more land, to buy more land, to produce more cotton. And the pinch point is the ability — how fast — a slave hand could actually pick. And the only way that you can increase that pick is through torture. And if you’ve read any of the literature of whether it’s slave narratives or the documents, I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the various financial documents in the Schomburg Center, how that actual banking structure, the idea that slavery was not an economic engine . . . I’ve never heard anybody with remote credibility who’s actually studied this stuff hard, make that case before.

Jared Taylor: [00:24:05] Well, would you consider Eugene Genovese? He was a Marxist historian of slavery. He certainly did not approve of slavery or slaveholders. He also wrote that the slave system drastically slowed down the development of the South. Furthermore, cotton exports in terms of U.S. GNP were a tiny amount, a tiny amount. The Southerners had a vastly exaggerated understanding of how important it was. They thought that the British, for example, were going to recognize the South if the Yankees cut off exports. The British didn’t recognize the South. They found another source. Cotton was by no means some kind of jet engine that propelled the United States economy forward. And by 1870, just five years after the end of the Civil War, the South was producing just as much cotton as it had before the war, but with hired labor, not slave labor.

Furthermore, the idea that you could extract a tremendous amount of labor out of slaves is simply wrong. All of the people who described slavery from any kind of objective point of view realized that driving them in this ruthless, cruel way only made them rebellious, only made them more likely to run away. And as I said before, the observation by Frederick Olmsted and others like him was that they seemed to think that black slaves worked in a very, very leisurely way. It was a common expression among Southerners to say it took two slaves to watch one slave do nothing. Also, as far as any kind of industrial production was concerned, it was impossible to get slaves to work in factories because they invariably broke the equipment.

The idea, again, that if slaves were such a tremendous source of value: Why isn’t Brazil so many times more wealthy than us? Why aren’t Jamaica and Barbados, where they had far more slaves? Why aren’t they fantastically wealthy? Furthermore, the way slavery worked in those places, why did they have so many slaves? Because they imported grown slaves, worked them to death, and so unlike in the South, they did not look after slaves when they were unproductive children, nor did they look after old slaves after their productive lives had ended. They did not have that problem. How come they didn’t turn out to be remarkably wealthy places, if what you’re describing is correct?

Whitney Dow: [00:26:51] Well, first of all, the idea that slaves weren’t abused . . . I’m having a hard time wrapping my —

Jared Taylor: [00:27:01] I’m not — look, I’m not saying they were treated well. What I’m saying is — I’m not trying to defend slavery at all. I’m simply trying to view it from an objective point of view. Slavery was a terrible thing. I wish it had never happened. But I think you can make a very strong and convincing case that the United States would have developed in a more profitable, more widely industrialized way, certainly would not have had the Civil War if black slaves had not been brought to the United States.

Whitney Dow: [00:27:30] As we were talking about this, I looked [this] up. I think that we produced, in 1860, 80 percent of the global cotton supply. So the idea [that] that’s a fraction of our GDP, I think that when slavery was abolished, slaves represented the largest single asset in this country at the time —

Jared Taylor: In the South.

Whitney Dow: No, no, no. Even in the country. In the country.

Jared Taylor: No.

Whitney Dow: So the idea that somehow this largest asset of the country had no, had a very insignificant economic, value, I don’t think is accurate. I think that . . .

Jared Taylor: [00:28:02] But look at the results. Look at the results! Why was the South poor? Why in the South, even afterwards, before the Civil War, after the Civil War, the more blacks you found in the United States, the poorer the general state of living. And furthermore, the fact that blacks took up so much capital — that was capital diverted from what would have been much more profitable and productive: industry. Again, I repeat, the South had only 10 percent of industrial production in the United States. That’s one of the big reasons it lost the war. It had hardly any railroads. There was not a single factory in the South that could build a railroad locomotive. The arms production of the South was terrible because they didn’t have that kind of industry. No, it’s all very well to say slaves were valuable and companies made money by insuring the lives of slaves. But to then look at the actual product, the actual output of slave owners, you come up very, very short. Besides look at Canada, look at Australia, look at New Zealand, look at Scandinavia. Those societies never had slaves, never had empires. They are, by many standards, wealthier than the United States today. The idea that slavery somehow produced all of this enormous wealth and we must therefore give it back to blacks, it just does not hold up no matter how hard you want to make that argument.

Whitney Dow: [00:29:32] Let me switch tracks here. Do you, do we, have any moral obligation to . . . I think a lot about this, Jared, I think about what is our moral obligation if we look at the way that black Americans have been treated and how they’ve been excluded from so much of participating in the American dream, do we have any moral obligation to make this right?

Jared Taylor: [00:30:03] I think if you personally or other people personally feel a moral obligation, there’s nothing stopping you. For most of us, though, even if we are descended from slave holders, we had nothing to do with all of those bad things that were done to black people. And again, I made the argument to you earlier, if it turns out that your grandfather or great-grandfather or great-great-grandfather had murdered my great-great-grandfather, I have no claim on you, no claim whatsoever. Therefore, the kind of sin being visited onto the next generation or the seventh generation, most white people will completely reject this Biblical approach, especially because so many of them are descended from people who never owned slaves. So many of them came here after slavery was abolished.

What if you turned around and you said, “OK, white people, your taxes are going to go up because we’re going to give the money to blacks.” Do you think that would improve race relations in the United States? On the one hand, you will never get an answer from black people saying, yes, OK, finally, we’ve been made whole. The black reaction will invariably be: “This isn’t enough.” And what do you think the white reaction is going to be? Poor whites in particular? If you are working in Appalachia, if you’ve just got an ordinary middle-class job and your taxes are going to be paid to the children of Barack and Michelle Obama because they’re descended from slaves, how do you think white people are going to react? Or other people, Hispanics, Asians, anybody else who feel absolutely no personal involvement in slavery? Is that going to help race relations? Absolutely not. Again, those who have a personal feeling of obligation or guilt, by all means. I’m sure you could get set up a 501(c)3 to which contributions would be tax deductible. Go right ahead. But the idea of forcing people who feel absolutely no responsibility to reach deeper into their pockets and compensate people who may be living better than they themselves are, that is going to make relations vastly, vastly worse.

Whitney Dow: [00:32:27] Let me take your murder analogy from generations ago. What if that family that murdered your great-great-great-grandfather generations ago, each generation, they came in and murdered the next male descendant and stole their money. And so all for the next eight generations, they’re coming and they’re murdering the head of the household and they’re taking the money. And then when it gets to your generation, they miss it. Now, meanwhile, they’ve taken all that money, invested in real estate and whatever they’ve done, and they built a huge amount of wealth with it. Do they have any obligation to you, if they’ve actually systematically preyed upon your family for generations?

Jared Taylor: [00:33:06] Show me any legal theory that would give me the opportunity to launch a civil lawsuit for that purpose. There is none. And if you take that analogy, then you could find dozens and dozens of examples of people who have been dispossessed, maybe even partly exterminated. What about all the North Africans who died when the Muslims came roaring through and converted North Africa to Islam? What about the many millions of Europeans that were captured and enslaved by the Barbary pirates, the North Africans? What about all the black Africans who were transported across the desert and enslaved in the Middle East? If you start looking back into historical wrongs, there is no end to it. What about, even in more contemporary terms, homosexuality has been illegal throughout the United States for almost all of its history. It’s now legal. Should we compensate homosexuals who are punished or suffer discrimination, which was legal at the time but is now illegal? What about the people who got arrested and imprisoned for marijuana in those states where marijuana smoking is now legal? If you want to go back and find people who got the short end of the stick, you’re welcome to do so; there’s an infinite number of them, but this kind of thing is not going to sit well on people who had absolutely no part in that and feel no obligation to make those people whole.

Whitney Dow: [00:34:39] I think that “what about-ism” is not as it seems to be, [it’s] sort of the refuge of . . . I just don’t go down that road, “what about-ism.” We’re talking about a specific thing —

Jared Taylor: Why not!?

Whitney Dow: Because I think “what about-ism” is usually deflecting the idea of the question saying, “Well, what about this? What about that?” We’re talking about something that’s very specific. And now just to address your idea about . . .  because I think reconciliation is something I would imagine that, — you haven’t said it — but I would imagine that you would like there to be a better relationship between white and black Americans, or is that something you don’t care about?

Jared Taylor: [00:35:15] I’m all for improved relations between black and white Americans. And “what about-ism” is a question of consistency. If you’re going to compensate blacks, why not compensate Indians? You could argue that their situation was vastly worse and it went on for longer. They have never been compensated. I think “what about-ism” is an entirely legitimate point of view. You have to be consistent. What’s so special about blacks compared to Indians, for example, or the Chinese who suffered all sorts of legal circumscription of their lives in the United States? And again, as I say, even more recently, people who are living today, people who suffered under marijuana laws, people who suffered under anti-homosexual laws, why not? Look, once you start saying, OK, this particular group, this particular group has some sort of special hold on us, even though slavery ended in 1865, a long time ago, then certainly that opens the door to some kind of logical and consistent thinking. And to dismiss that as “what about-ism” is, I think, just a rhetorical flourish.

Whitney Dow: [00:36:22] Well, you talked about this idea making race relations worse. Let’s say you have offended me or you’ve injured me in some way, let’s say, you said something horrible about me and decided you want to make amends with me.

Jared Taylor: Good!

Whitney Dow: And you come to me and say, “You know, Whitney, I’m terribly sorry I did this. I just want to let you know that I’m sorry for it.” Is my accepting of that apology, is you making amends with me conditional on me accepting that apology?

Jared Taylor: [00:37:17] It depends on the reason I’m doing this. I suppose if I really do feel bad about something I personally did to you and I want to apologize, I would probably feel better if you accepted my apology. Then you might turn around and say, “OK, compensate me.” That might or might not be a legitimate demand. But this argument would support only voluntary private compensation, not government compensation. It should be entirely voluntary, in my view.

Whitney Dow: [00:38:04] I would argue that if I had offended you, I would make an apology. And you accepting it — that is not why I make the apology. I make the apology because I feel I’m a moral person and I want to make amends with you.

Jared Taylor: OK.

Whitney Dow: And then to me, it’s about me. It’s not about you. It’s me. Make me apologize to you. And then I move on. I feel like whether or not you accept it or not, it doesn’t really matter. Now, I can move on freely with my life without feeling in the back [of my head] that, “God, I did this really horrible thing to Jared.” And that’s sort of what I’m trying to get at about race relations. As a white person, I don’t feel making recompense for the exploitation and the discrimination against black people — that’s not about whether it makes it better or worse. It’s what makes me feel, makes me more of a moral human. It makes me able to move on with my life. And so the idea that — I don’t think of it in terms of “well this is going to make things better or worse,” I feel that’s a secondary question. My job is like, OK, I’ve done this thing, I want to move on. This is a way to move on. That’s what I’m trying to get at.

Jared Taylor: [00:39:19] Wow. I don’t think black people would find that satisfactory at all. I don’t think black people would feel that they were compensated simply because white people run around making themselves feeling better by saying, “I’m sorry.” I think they would be quite contemptuous of that. But what good does it do them? That’s simply a way for white people to feel better about something that I believe they had no responsibility for. Why would race relations be better because of that? I think black people would far prefer that white people feel guilty, feel obligated. They don’t want white people to be relieved of guilt simply by saying “I’m sorry.”

Whitney Dow: [00:40:02] Do you believe — are you hopeful for some sort of reconciliation between blacks and whites in America, or do you think it’s something that’s possible?

Jared Taylor: [00:40:14] I think the possibility of reconciliation between blacks and whites or of some sort of completely colorblind society in which we all live as if race can be made not to matter – is not possible. I think the record of the United States shows that it’s not possible. Ever since the Civil Rights Movement, whites, more than any other group in the United States, have tried to set aside any sense of racial solidarity. If anybody in America has tried to live the idea of “We’re all Americans, let’s set race aside,” it’s white people. It’s black people in particular who have been most resistant to that or said, “No, no, no, we’re not just Americans. We are blacks. We have a chip on our shoulders. Society owes us something.” It is blacks and to a lesser degree, Hispanics, and now increasingly Asians who think in terms of racial identity. They are the ones who are promoting the idea that because I am a member of a group, I have certain politics, I have certain demands on society, and you better meet them. White people have tried very hard to say, “No, we’re all just Americans. We’re in this together. Let’s work as individuals.” But as blacks — in particular — and as I say, increasingly Hispanics and Asians move in the other direction, it’s going to force whites, if only out of a sense of self-defense, to say, “Well, wait a minute, everybody else is operating on the basis of racial identity. We better do the same.”

That is the future I see for the United States, especially given the remarkable degree to which liberals today are ramping up the whole idea of white guilt, white supremacy. People used to talk about discrimination and they talked about racism. I guess that’s not wild and provocative enough. Now it’s all white supremacy, white guilt. All white people are racist and no non-white person can be racist. When you tell that to people over and over and over again, they’re going to develop a racial consciousness. You’re going to get more and more white people who are fed up with that and say “The heck with this. We have to have white organizations to defend white interests.” So, no, I am not optimistic. Certainly the way things are moving today, there can never be an all-hold-hands-and-sing-Kumbaya kind of racial reconciliation.

Whitney Dow: [00:42:49] Do you consider yourself a racist?

Jared Taylor: [00:42:51] Not at all. Whatever “a racist” means, a racist is someone who has some kind of morally reprehensible view. I don’t think my views on race are morally reprehensible at all. I have nothing to be ashamed of. And if I say that I don’t see a possibility for racial reconciliation, does that make me a moral inferior? No, I believe that makes me a much more objective and realistic analyst of what contemporary American society is all about.

Whitney Dow: [00:43:23] Well, I think that this is someplace we probably agree. I don’t see the possibility of a true reconciliation. And I don’t necessarily see that that’s important. Even as I said before —

Jared Taylor: [00:43:35] That it’s not important!?

Whitney Dow: [00:43:36] It’s not. I don’t think it’s — I think that as a white person, all you can do is do what you believe is right and move forward. I don’t think that the idea that we’re somehow going to reach a reconciliation bill. I am like you in that I am pessimistic, having looked at history.

Jared Taylor: [00:43:58] Well, if that is your view, if racial reconciliation is impossible, should we not work towards some kind of mutually agreed upon separation? If it’s going to be a constant source of tension? If half a century after the civil rights movement, we still have race riots, we still have all of this racial conflict, isn’t it perhaps time to say, maybe this experiment has failed? Let’s declare it a failure and let’s try to engineer some way of giving black people more and more autonomy for their own destiny, for their own policing, their own education, and let whites have autonomy for their own destiny as well. If you really do believe that reconciliation is impossible, why go on with this myth that diversity is somehow a great strength and that we need more and more and more of it? People prefer to separate Why not recognize that and try to move forward in a productive way rather than continuing down this road to nowhere that has led to, in your view, perpetual conflict?

Whitney Dow: [00:45:14] I would say, look, I’m about ten pounds overweight, but that doesn’t stop me from going to the gym and trying to lose it. And if I didn’t, I might become 20 pounds overweight. You work towards because you think it’s the right thing to do.

Jared Taylor: [00:45:35] Well, it’s going to be a futile undertaking. I don’t see how you can have your heart in it if it’s never going to work. In fact, why can’t we just cut the Gordian knot and let people do what I believe they, by and large, prefer to do? You have had many cases in the past of groups separating: The Czechs and Slovaks, they are very similar people, but they decided that their destiny was to be separate. You had all the former republics in the Soviet Union, they were forced to live together under the Soviets. Now they’re happy because they’re separate. There are many cases of this. And I think it is a bad mistake to undertake something you know will fail.

At the very least, I wish our rulers would adopt your view and say, “OK, chances are this ain’t going to work. Chances are there’s going to be conflict forever.” Then what should we do? Shouldn’t we have a discussion on the basis of that rather than, as I say, continuing to have this crazy idea that somehow racial diversity is a great strength, when your admission, in effect, is it’s not a source of strength? Why don’t we admit that rather than continually lying to ourselves?

Whitney Dow: [00:46:52] A couple more things. First, before moving to the next part I want to talk about, I want to talk about this idea of opportunities and what’s happened since the Civil Rights Movement. I feel like it’s a little bit like playing poker with someone for a couple hundred years and they’re cheating at it. And at a certain point, you catch them cheating and they say, “OK, you got me, I cheated. And going forward, I’m not going to cheat. But you better not cheat either. Neither one of us can cheat. We now have to both play by the rules.” But meanwhile, this person has amassed a huge bunch of chips and this other person only has a couple of chips. Is that then a fair game, a fair way to move forward?

Jared Taylor: [00:47:36] There are people who have long argued that that’s not a fair way to move forward. You can go back to, I believe it was 1965, Lyndon Johnson gave the commencement address at Howard University and he says, “Look, what we need is equality of results. We can’t just have equality of opportunity.” He made exactly the same argument you did, back in 1965. That’s quite some time ago. And since then, there have been, in effect, compensatory programs in the form of racial preferences for blacks.

Now, how far do you want to go with this? I recall that during one of the Supreme Court decisions on affirmative action, it was Sandra Day O’Connor who said, “Well, you know, maybe 25 years from now we should be able to get rid of racial preferences.” That was, as I recall, oh nearly 15 years ago. But 10 years from now, are we going to get rid of racial preferences? No. How long do we go on with this stuff? I remember Eric Holder said racial preferences haven’t even got going. We haven’t even started.

There’s been affirmative action ever since the 1960s. How long is that supposed to go on? For how long are white people supposed to feel discriminated against? This idea of compensation by means of preference, this, too, I drives a terrible wedge between people of different races. Furthermore, the people who benefit from these compensatory schemes are almost never poor blacks. They’re middle-class blacks. They are, in fact, the children of people like Barack and Michelle Obama. Is this really the way we want to solve the problem of racial differences and achievement in the United States? None of it has worked out successfully. And I don’t believe that people are going to support this for all that much longer. The Supreme Court may end up saying you can’t do it.

Whitney Dow: [00:49:53] I don’t believe in guaranteed outcome. I do believe in equal opportunity. And I would say that if you’re sitting at a poker table and somebody’s amassed hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of chips and you have a couple of hundred, then that’s not equal opportunity. The game was rigged. Now we’re supposedly unrigging the game, but you still have to have the asymmetrical relationship in place that you’re —

Jared Taylor: [00:50:22] All right. You can certainly make that argument. At this point, the net worth of Asians is higher than that of whites. And also, you pointed out what’s the median household net worth of whites? About $170,000 a year?

Whitney Dow: Yeah, yeah.

Jared Taylor: Well, how much does each individual white person inherit from his parents? How much of a leg up does a white person have because he’s white, because his parents are better off? You can make some argument that there is a difference, but I certainly didn’t get a leg up in any kind of substantial monetary sense just because I’m white. I think most whites would argue that they did not. And so, OK, yes, whites do start off wealthier, but is that really the decisive difference in terms of what one achieves in the United States? The whole American mythos is from rags to riches. If you work hard, it doesn’t make any difference whether you’re a brand new immigrant, doesn’t make any difference if your parents were wealthy or poor. If you work hard, you can get ahead. And in many respects, that’s the case. People come from El Salvador, some of them, or Central America, a lot of them don’t even speak English. And yet Central Americans have a higher per capita income than black Americans. What are they doing differently? Is it somehow the legacy of slavery that keeps blacks poor? No, I don’t think you can make that argument.

Whitney Dow: [00:51:57] But we’ve seen over and over again these studies where people send out resumes with identifiable black names and they don’t get called back, there’s been so many studies that shows there’s still plenty of discrimination in the system. Would you think your life would have been different if you were born black, Jared?

Jared Taylor: [00:52:14] Of course it would have been different. My life would have been different if I’d been born a a girl rather than a boy. And people often cite the fact that when you ask white people, “How much money would it take for you to accept to be black in the United States? And people then sometimes say, “Oh, well, $800,00, $1,000,000” whatever it is, it’s common to make that argument. Well, what if you would ask black people how much would we have to pay them in order for them to be white? I bet a lot of black people would say you couldn’t pay me enough to be white. This argument never works out in the other direction. What are the penalties for being black in the United States? It’s impossible to calculate them. And yes, there are some cases in which a black person, a black sounding resume, does not get called back as often. But there are many, many cases that we know about in which a black person who is applying for a job or was certainly applying to university, gets preference over white or particularly over an Asian.

Whitney Dow: [00:53:24] I think that one of the things is that that black person, someone who’s born into a complicated economic system, a complicated family system, that the complications of growing up in poverty, especially inner-city poverty, are so prevalent that if you don’t identify them by, fourth or fifth grade, you actually can’t — that you lose them to gangs, you lose them to disintegrating families. You lose them to all kinds of things. What I was going to say is this: The idea that whether they get, once you get to that point where they’re applying to college, there’s actually a really small pool of qualified minority kids because so many of them who would have been with the right support system, would be flourishing. And so, yeah, and so your next question is, “Is that the fault of white people?”

Jared Taylor: [00:54:40] Yes. And after all, don’t forget, we’ve had this massive government program called Head Start that was supposed to make up for those differences. It doesn’t seem to have had that effect. Also, is it the fault of white people that 75 percent of black children are born to unmarried women? Is that the fault of white society? It also makes no sense to call that the legacy of slavery, because back in the early 1900s the black illegitimacy rate was vastly lower than it is today. To keep harping on slavery as the cause of all this, I think really is to dodge the question and invariably it places the blame on whites.

Whitney Dow: [00:55:23] What was your life like growing up? What was sort of the arc that led you to this place where you believe in . .  I mean, it sounds a little bit like white separatism. What was that? Did you grow up in a family of academics? Did you grow up in a poor family? What was the arc of your life that led you here?

Jared Taylor: [00:55:53] I grew up in Japan. I lived in Japan until I was 16 years old. And my parents were very liberal. They were missionaries to Japan, who believed that all humans were equal in the sight of God and should be equal under of the law. And so I was very much a liberal and I clung to my liberal views probably until I was in my thirties. It was a great reluctance that I adopted my current views. I would much rather believe that’s all going to work out, that our government has the best intentions, that our society is based on a correct understanding of human nature and of history. And it was, as I say, with great reluctance that I gave up those views.

It came about as a result of studying, of traveling. In 1970, I spent a lot of time in West Africa and I got a very different sense of what Africa was like from what we’d otherwise been led to believe. One of my awakenings, I suppose, was a conversation I had with a Liberian college student. I had just crossed the border from Ivory Coast. Ivory Coast was flourishing at the time. It was very heavily influenced by the French. The French had many bureaucrats working in the Ivorian government making sure the country was run properly. I crossed the border into Liberia and everything was a mess. And I went to Monrovia, what was my custom in a new country: Go to the capital city, go to the university and talk to young people. And I asked a guy, “I don’t mean to be rude, but why is Liberia in such a mess compared to Ivory Coast?” He says that’s a very easy question to answer. “We did not have the benefit of being colonized by the French.” That was, to me, an absolutely staggering reply. He wasn’t putting the responsibility on whites. He said it’s up to us black people, and that, to me, was a brand new perspective. I was horrified by that answer. But over the years, studying things, observing American society, reading history, that has brought me to what are admittedly unfashionable but, I believe, correct views.

Whitney Dow: [00:58:09] Do you believe that you’ve received any benefits or privileges from being white in America?

Jared Taylor: [00:58:13] From being white? Let’s imagine the United States were an all-white country. I don’t think my life would be the least bit different from what it is today. The fact that there are non-whites, does that somehow give white people privileges? The idea of white privilege to me is absurd. If you go to Iceland, at least until recently, there were no non-whites. Did they have white privilege then? No, presumably not. But if, all of a sudden, you brought in 200,000 Somalis, would Iceland be better off? Would the Icelanders now somehow have white privilege? No, I think it would be absurd. It would be terrible for Iceland to import 200,000 Somalis. Likewise, in the United States, the presence of blacks is not a benefit for whites. The presence of blacks does not mean that our lives are somehow better. That kind of argument makes no sense at all.

Whitney Dow: [00:59:09] Well, even though you think when you applied to school, if you look at the structure of admissions to the, especially, the elite schools, it’s changed, as you know, as you’ve said. But when you were in school, I think you were probably in the early 70s. What percentage of your class was black?

Jared Taylor: [00:59:29] I don’t know the exact percentage. But even in 1968, when I went to Yale, it was well known among whites that you’d be much better off if you were black. Even then, people were saying, “Well, gosh, if I pretended to be black, I’m more likely to be admitted.” In fact, the fellow who ran the admissions program at Yale, his name was Inslee Clark. He was famous for trying to get diversity, even then. And I suspect that I was admitted to Yale not because I was such an impressive student, but because I was applying from Japan. That was some kind of perhaps affirmative action for me that was not race-based, but it was part of this idea of getting people from the southside of Chicago, getting people from rural Texas, getting black people, getting Hispanics. I was probably a beneficiary of affirmative action, geographic distribution rather than racial.

Whitney Dow: [01:00:36] It’s the first time I’ve heard that somebody said in the sixties [that it] was better off to be black,

Jared Taylor: Oh, gosh!

Whitney Dow: But I think I’ll take your word for it.

Jared Taylor: [01:00:43] Believe me. High school people took that for granted. You’d be much better off if you’re applying for college if you’re black.

Whitney Dow: [01:00:59] But don’t you think you have to put everything on the scales, Jared, like you say? Well, I might be able to get a better job. I might have a better chance of getting into a college. But if you put my health outcome, the fact that my mortgage is higher, the fact that I am excluded from certain neighborhoods — because there was still redlining going on in 1968, as you know, that I’ll put everything on the scale. Is it balanced because I might get into college a little more easily?

Jared Taylor: [01:01:27] To come up with an accurate and precise accounting of all this is impossible. All I’m saying is that white people in the United States, much as we like to talk about white privilege, have no advantage in life because there are black people living in the United States. It is not advantageous to white people to have a group within the population that is poor, more likely to be on welfare and likely to commit crime, to have illegitimate children. No, it’s not an advantage to whites.

Now, do whites have an advantage compared to blacks? Well, it’s often said that when a black person goes into a store, the store detective is more likely to follow him around. Why is that? It’s too bad for blacks who are not going to be shoplifters. But the fact is, the people that the store detectives are most likely to find shoplifting are black. They don’t follow around little old Asian ladies, because they don’t shoplift. Is that an unfair advantage to little old Asian ladies? Or is it simply a matter of playing the odds?

So, yes, in certain respects, whites have an advantage because people are less likely to assume that they’re going to be muggers or shoplifters. Is that the fault of whites? No, it’s not the fault of whites. I would argue it’s the fault of blacks. Even Jesse Jackson; he said that one of the things he regrets most is that when he is walking down the street at night and he hears menacing sounds behind him and he turns around and he sees white people, he feels relieved. It’s because he knows he is much less likely to be attacked by a white person than by a black person. Everyone in the United States understands that, no matter how unwilling they may be to admit it. So in that sense, yes, whites have an advantage that they’re less likely to be suspected of being criminals. But that is because there are statistical differences that everyone understands in terms of who’s likely to be a criminal.

Whitney Dow: [01:03:34] I think that everything you talk about correlates to poverty. And I would argue that the economic position of black Americans is because they’ve been systematically excluded from economic opportunities in this country for generations and generations. And so saying that they’re more likely to — everything you said, everything you talk about — correlates to poverty. And so I think that if people are poor, yes, they have these negative things in their lives. But I don’t think that it’s because they’re black. I think it’s because they’re in poverty,

Jared Taylor: [01:04:08] The correlation with poverty certainly exists. But if you control for poverty, you still find very considerable differences in behavior. Chinatown, certainly in the 1950s, was the poorest part of San Francisco. Poverty did not make the Chinese more crime-prone. Furthermore, the Great Depression, threw a whole lot of people into poverty. They suddenly did not become more crime-prone? Not at all. And take someone like Rodney King. He walked away with – what – about four million dollars after the civil suit with the city of Los Angeles. Did that suddenly stop him being crime-prone? No. He went on to commit all sorts of crimes. Poverty is not the problem. Poverty is not a good thing, but it’s not necessarily the cause. But we have come far afield from the idea that somehow blacks deserve compensation for slavery.

Whitney Dow: [01:05:15] I appreciate how much time you’ve given us this morning. I realize we’ve gone much longer than I originally thought, and I appreciate that time. Is there anything that we haven’t touched on, Jared, that you think should be said about reparations?

Jared Taylor: [01:05:30] Well, I would just repeat a point I made earlier, and that is that I do not think that if not non-blacks are forced to pay for compensation for something for which they do not feel responsible, that is not going to help race relations at all. And in fact, I don’t think that Congress would even vote for that, because even the liberal Democrat-controlled Congress realizes how much opposition there is this idea of being shaken down. That was the attitude that most non-blacks would take: They’re being shaken down for something that’s not their fault. And so, again, I would say that for those people, white or non-white, who think that they owe something to blacks, then they should voluntarily make those payments and set up organizations to facilitate that. That, I suspect, is what’s going to be the future of compensation in the United States, no matter how much the media promote the idea that the federal government should be making payments.

Whitney Dow: [01:06:29] Great, well, thank you so much Jared.