Reporters asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-KY) about his stance on reparations as the topic has become a hot-button issue during the 2020 presidential news cycle. On Tuesday, (June 18) the 77-year-old said he doesn't think paying the descendants of slaves "is a good idea."
"I don't think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago for whom none us currently living are responsible is a good idea," McConnell responded. "We've tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, bypassing landmark civil rights legislation. We elected an African American president."
The timing of the question came a day before the House Judiciary Committee would have a hearing on the issue, reportedly, for the first time in a decade.
"I think we're always a work in progress in this country, but no one currently alive was responsible for that, and I don't think we should be trying to figure out how to compensate for it. First of all, it would be pretty hard to figure out who to compensate. ... No, I don't think reparations are a good idea," McConnell said.
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties held a meeting Wednesday (June 19) "to examine, through open and constructive discourse, the legacy of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, its continuing impact on the community and the path to restorative justice."
Between The World And Me author and activist Ta-Nehisi Coates attended the meeting and responded to McConnel's comments.
"We grant that Mr. McConnell was not alive for Appomattox," Coates said, speaking of the battle that ended the Civil War. "But he was alive for the electrocution of George Stinney. He was alive for the blinding of Isaac Woodard. He was alive to witness kleptocracy in his native Alabama in a regime premised on electoral theft."
Coates rose to literary stardom in 2014 when he laid bare the case for reparation in The Atlantic.
"McConnell cited civil rights legislation yesterday, as well he should because he was alive to witness the harassment, jailing, and betrayal of those responsible for that legislation. I am sure they'd love a word with the majority leader."