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On Tuesday, April 18, Ohio republican Bernie Moreno announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate with an odd pitch. In front of an intimate audience in a local Cincinnati brewery, Moreno took a rather moronic stance on reparations.
The GOP candidate said that descendants of white Union soldiers who died in the Civil War should be compensated for their ancestors’ efforts. This was in response to the rising movement in this country for reparations for Black people that are descendants of slavery, however Moreno did not even take a stance on reparations for slave descendants.
In Moreno’s proposal, he suggested that the Union’s main purpose was to free the slaves.
“Where are the reparations for the people in the North who died to save the lives of Black people?” Moreno said during his campaign announcement reported by NewsOne. He then went on to say, “That same group of people later, white people, died to free Black people.”
“It’s never happened in human history before, but it happened here in America. That’s not talked about in schools very much, is it? They make it sound like America is a racist, broken country. You name a country that did that, that freed slaves, died to do that.”
What Moreno outright neglects to consider is the fact that the Civil War was not just fought over slavery. There was already growing tension between the Northern Union and Southern Confederacy. The North was industrializing and found economic gain through that mechanism, while the South was holding on to capitalizing off their plantations and slaves that did all the work for them. Southern white people proved that old habits die hard and refused to progress along with Union ideals which caused Southern states to secede and the Civil War to ensue.
Even though the “ending” of slavery played a huge role in the Civil War conflict, it was not a priority for a lot of the white Union. If anything, keeping slavery around was more of a priority for the South then ending slavery was for the North. Abraham Lincoln, who was president at the time of the Civil War, even said himself that preserving the Union was more important than ending slavery.
In a letter written in response to criticisms against him, Lincoln said:
“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.”
On top of that, the leader of the Union also did not support equal rights for Black people in America.
“I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and Black races,” he said in a debate on September 18, 1858.
So, who’s to say that many of these white soldiers were really fighting for the main goal of ending slavery?
Another fault to Moreno’s statement is that white Union soldiers were in fact paid for their efforts in the war. Actually, they were disproportionately paid for their efforts compared to Black soldiers that fought for the North, and Black people in the South were also forced into fighting for the Confederacy.
Looking back at his proposal, Bernie Moreno embodies the ignorance many people in this country have towards reparations. His sentiments also showcase the necessity for a bigger conversation we need to have in this country.