Everybody’s favorite faux edgy woke actor who appears to favor indie projects while actually taking on the lucrative likes of Sherlock Holmes and the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe got hit with a crazy claim around New Year’s Day.
The Telegraph reported that Benedict Cumberbatch may face a reparations claim—as in, slavery reparations—from tiny Barbados. The star of “12 Years a Slave” may have to pay up for ancient slavery.
It was an interesting way for the country to leap into holiday headlines. No doubt millions went and Googled “where is Barbados?”
David Denny, the head of the country’s reparations commission, laid it out clearly enough according to the Telegraph: “Any descendants of white plantation owners who have benefitted from the slave trade should be asked to pay reparations, including the Cumberbatch family.”
About seven grandfathers back in time, Cumberbatch’s family owned slaves and a plantation in Barbados. When the country abolished slavery in 1833, his family was paid for the slaves it had owned. Those slaves were set free, the family said you’re welcome and moved on. Generations came and went and Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch was born in obscurity in London in 1976—well over 100 years after Barbados rightly did away with slavery. His parents were actors and he took to the family trade and earned success.
It’s 2023 and Barbados is slamming down the ultimate grandfather clause. If your ancestors ever owned slaves in the country, you might be hauled into its courts and “asked” to pay up. Governments don’t ask. They demand. With guns.
My god, Rev. Jesse and Rev. Al must love this.
It doesn’t matter if you have never lived there or ever owned a blade of grass or a grain of sand in the tropical country. As Denny said, history over which you had no say may cost you. Even if you’re Doctor Strange with the Time Stone.
After the brouhaha erupted, Barbados backed down. Sort of. They published an op-ed, picked up by the reparations-friendly Los Angeles Times, to say this: “To date, neither [the Caribbean Community’s reparations commission] nor Barbados has officially leveled a Reparations claim against a European family.”
“To date . . . ” So you’re saying there’s a chance?
Barbados officials now say the Telegraph misquoted them but this has the feel of a strategic trial balloon. How would the world respond to Barbados—or any other similarly poorly-run dump—imposing reparations on someone who never owned slaves and could not possibly go back in time and change what his family did? Cumberbatch may portray a time traveler on the big screen, but he’s just an actor reciting lines written by others in a universe of make-believe constructed by others. How is he in any way responsible for slaves his ancestors owned?
The truth is he isn’t responsible and no reasonable person would argue otherwise. But we do not live in reasonable times. The Los Angeles Times went out of its way to note that the Barbados reparations claim against the actor who portrayed the world’s most famous detective “resonated with many.”
“Some applauded the reports as a New Year’s resolution. Many online pointed to the irony of Cumberbatch’s performance as a real-life Louisiana slave owner in the 2013 film ‘12 Years a Slave.’”
“Although Cumberbatch will not be facing reparation claims, the reports and online buzz come amid ongoing movements to push reparations in California, the U.S. and across the globe. And it re-ignited conversations about who should pay.” Skeptics of the notion get no voice.
The Times jumped right past the immorality of forcing people to pay for sins they did not commit, and landed on “who should pay.” And why not force a rich actor to become a symbol of a travesty of a movement built on resentment and greed? If Cumberbatch pays, who could possibly resist?
The Times also ran interference for a greedy government that floated the possibility and then backed away when the heat was on. Those New Year’s headlines weren’t as favorable as Barbados thought they would be.
Here are two truths about reparations: The first is that they are fundamentally immoral and akin to the evil of slavery they claim to address. Reparations are theft by legal means, a robbery at government gunpoint to pay people who never suffered slavery from the wallets of people who never ever owned slaves, with government, of course, taking a cut. That sounds like the mafia, if the mafia were more dishonest.
The second truth is that the immorality of reparations does not matter and that they are not only coming, they are already here. Several Democrat-run cities have already either imposed a form of reparations or are looking at how to impose them. The woke Democrats want some form of them at the national level but they’re quiet about it for now. They want to see if it plays as poorly as “defund the police” played and then adjust their strategy accordingly. They’re also studying how to build grift into the regime so they can get rich from it. The media, with very few exceptions, are not just on board—they are openly militating for reparations. They are openly trying to crush criticism and dissent.
But the idea of reparations doesn’t sit well with most people yet, so we get the idea floated so that it enters the consciousness and becomes a commonly discussed thing. This happened a generation ago with so-called “hate crimes” legislation. Moderates and liberals liked the idea of distancing themselves from hate without any cost to themselves, because they’re into moral preening and don’t consider the consequences. But conservatives and libertarians pointed out that codifying hate into law is a dangerous erosion of free speech and can be weaponized. Here we are in 2023 and even blinking your eyes the wrong way can be interpreted as microaggressive hate speech. Our college campuses are overrun with whiny ninnies crushing basic freedoms with spurious claims of hate speech. Our whole culture has been turned into a cancel culture volunteer police state. We hate each other more than ever, and hate speech laws stirred it up.
Benedict Cumberbatch may as well buckle up. His starring role in two anti-slavery movies and his personal denunciation of what his ancestors did will not matter in the long run. Barbados popped its little trial balloon for now but the idea has been implanted in the culture. Reparations are coming, and it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes or Doctor Strange to see it.