Reparations have become a hot-button topic in the 2020 election, as more than a few of the growing legion of Democratic candidates pledge to address persistent racial inequities with some form of accounting—including possible compensation for descendants of slaves. Once deemed radical, the idea of reparations has been gaining political momentum on the left, with candidates like Elizabeth Warren, Julián Castro, Kamala Harris, and Pete Buttigieg vowing to consider the idea.
The right has proven less receptive, offering up a host of excuses—from the problem of how to calculate the reparations to the claim that slavery happened too long ago to warrant redress. And some, as Trevor Noah pointed out on The Daily Show, are even suggesting that American slavery isn’t that bad in the context of slavery in general, since the US eventually abolished it.
“That is one of the dumbest arguments I’ve ever heard,” said Noah. “You don’t get credit for doing a bad thing less than someone else. That’s like R. Kelly saying, ‘Guys, get over it, have you seen the Michael Jackson documentary?’” Noah also calls out the hypocrisy of conservatives dismissing slavery as ancient history while defending Confederate monuments as, well, ancient history that matters.
As for the question, raised on Fox News, of whether newly-immigrated Nigerians would benefit from reparations, Noah knows that’s absurd: “That’s just a stupid question. Nigerians don’t need reparations. They’ve already been paid by Jussie Smollet.”