Diary

Sweet Social Justice: Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge

Fox News, as part of its “Florida Retiree Morning” series detailing endless cases of hummingbirds given priority over human safety, is making a big deal out of the Harris Neck story. It’s the case of a once “thriving” community (in one of the poorest counties in Georgia), whose landowners were kicked off their land during WWII to allow for the construction of an airstrip.

Several decades ago, it was converted into a National Wildlife Refuge*, despite supposed (but totally unsubstantiated) promises by the federal government to give the land back once the airstrips were no longer needed.

Many of the landowners were descendants of freed slaves, and were compensated on average only 72% of what their white counterparts received per acre.**

Now it’s time for some social justice.

First, let’s just take a few things into account. By my calculation, the youngest that any of these “usurped landowners” could possibly be is:

2010       (now)

-1942      (when the land was taken)

———

68

+18         (reasonable age for landownership)

———

86

Which suggests that there are few survivors at most, all of whom have made their homes for the past 68 years somewhere else. And despite the fact that land was taken from both whites and blacks, it’s become a case of “displaced black landowners”; so, naturally our friends at the NY Times and the AFL-CIO are coming to the rescue.

Once you research this issue, even a teensy-tiny bit, it sounds a lot like the case of the deeply questionable “black farmers” whom Shirley Sherrod helped to loot the federal treasury after feeling they were discriminated against by the USDA.

Harris Neck NWR is ultimately a similar story. The few landowners who actually survive and are pursuing justice–if any of them were even older than children in 1942–are looking for a freebie*** that no other victims of federal land-grabs got. Tennessee Valley Authority, anyone?

There are government-built dams literally everywhere in this country. Canals. Highways. Ports. Airstrips. All of which took vast amounts of land from landowners, some of which had been in families for generations. So why do the descendants of landowners in Harris Neck, Georgia, deserve reparations, while everyone else after 68 years, just has to suck it up and deal with it?

Hmm. Maybe they’re just looking for some sweet, racially-tinged social justice. Get Al Sharpton on the line, and Shirley Sherrod while you’re at it.

@ / Blog

*A shiny spot in an economically starved region: 90,000 annual visitors and pristine, accessible habitat for countless wetland species.

**Which the government blames on the value of the land, not race. Go figure.

***$400,000 worth of land and a government job. I’m not kidding, that’s what they’re gunning for.