We’ve touched upon the duties or whatever of Drax to the descendants of slaves before. Given that those descendants in the Caribbean are better off – by and large, this may well not be true of Haiti for example – than the descendants of the non-enslaved in West Africa then there simply isn’t anything to pay reparations for.
The Observer has an interesting entry into the debate:
Richard Drax cannot be responsible for what his ancestors did 400 years ago. But he is responsible for what he does now. Since his wealth is based on murder, kidnap and theft, the least he can do is return his plantation in Barbados to its rightful owners, the people who live there now. Thus the descendants of a much wronged people can benefit from a new hospital, a well-equipped school or some well-planned housing. He is a privileged person to have this in his gift.
Umm, why does land belong to the people who live there now? I can think of arguments that land should belong to the people who lived there before the land was taken from them. The Caribbean having a certain problem with this as the Arawaks were eaten by the Caribs before either the whites or the blacks turned up.
The base principle on display there would also have certain problems for those of Ms. Singer’s Cambridge contemporaries who own a charming little gite in the French countryside and so on. Mere Anglos should not be allowed to own Gallic ruralness under such a rubric.
The idea would also pose a certain problem for immigration itself. If the land should belong to the indigenes then where are incomers to reside? Are they to be denied property rights?
That is, upon examination this insistence that “rightful owners, the people who live there now” is merely local land for local owners. A remarkably nativist, even xenophobic, idea for The Observer to be printing. But then clarity of thought has never been a feature of that newspaper……