Angela Davis's 'Banquet of Consequences'

The famous reparations advocate and Brandeis alumna, Angela Davis, recently appeared on PBS's Finding Your Roots and, to her utter chagrin, discovered the truth that "both her mother's father and her father's father were white men and descendants of slave owners."

Davis's maternal grandfather, it turns out, was White Alabama lawyer and legislator John Austin Darden, a descendant of Stephen Darden, who "owned a farm and at least 6 slaves."  Also, farther back on the timeline, Davis finds herself related to William Brewster, a British colonizer and a passenger on the Mayflower.

The Framers of the Constitution — in Article I, Section 9, Clause Three — wrote the following: "No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed."  This is a good thing for the likes of Angela Davis.  A bill of attainder is how a legislative body puts itself in the dual role of judge-cum-jury, bypassing the right of due process, so an individual person or a collective group might be declared guilty of a crime and a harsh penalty exacted.  An ex post facto law criminalizes human actions retroactively, permitting people to be prosecuted for behavior that was legal at the time of its occurrence.

According to Cornell's Legal Information Institute:

The prohibition embodied in this [Constitutional] clause is not to be narrowly construed in the context of traditional forms but is to be interpreted in accordance with the designs of the framers so as to preclude trial by legislature, which would violate the separation of powers. The clause thus prohibits all legislative acts, 'no matter what their form, that apply either to named individuals or to easily ascertainable members of a group in such a way as to inflict punishment on them without a judicial trial[.]

James Madison, writing as Publius in Federalist 44, had this to say:

Bills of attainder, ex-post-facto laws, and laws impairing the obligations of contracts, are contrary to the first principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound legislation.

It is ironic that Ms. Angela Davis — who, in the past, would happily have supported a bill of attainder to punish descendants of slaveholders — now finds herself a beneficiary of the constitutional protections instituted by the Founders to protect all Americans, including herself, from injustice, for it would now appear that Ms. Davis has been recklessly hypocritical in criticizing others for being exactly what she herself has turned out to be: a descendent of colonizers and slaveholders.

If Ms. Davis were inclined to embrace "truth, even unto its innermost parts" — per the motto of Brandeis, her alma mater — she might take comfort from William Cooper Nell, the Black author of The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution, who wrote that "there are black, as well as white, slaveholders, a fact teaching humility to both classes, while at the same time, it proves the identity of both with the human family."

Britain's Daily Mail sums up Davis's situation this way:

A famed Black Panther who's also a communist has faced calls to pay reparations after discovering her ancestors were white puritans who arrived in the US on the Mayflower. ...

[T]he stunning revelations sparked calls for the famously woke Marxist University of California professor to herself pay reparations, having previously called on whites to pony-up in the past.

Robert Louis Stevenson once stated, "Everybody, soon or late, sits down to a banquet of consequences."  Perhaps Davis's knowledge of the truth about her ancestry has set the table for hers.

Paul Dowling has written about the Constitution, as well as articles for American ThinkerIndependent SentinelGodfather PoliticsEagle Rising, and Free Thought Matters.

Image: Mediared, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons, unaltered.

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