Booker blasts 'ignorance' of McConnell reparations comments

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerGabbard hits back at 'queen of warmongers' Clinton The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden camp faces new challenges Former public school teacher: Strikes 'wake-up call' for Democratic Party MORE (D-N.J.) said Wednesday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWhite House staggers after tumultuous 48 hours The Memo: Trump's sea of troubles deepens McConnell: Trump's troop pull back in Syria a 'grave strategic mistake' MORE’s (R-Ky.) comments this week in opposition to reparations for descendants of slaves displayed a “tremendous amount of ignorance.”

“You hear things like that, and talking about somehow electing Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaEven with likely Trump impeachment, Democrats face uphill climb to win presidency Clinton suggests Russia grooming Gabbard to run as third-party 2020 candidate The Hill's 12:30 Report: Washington mourns loss of Elijah Cummings MORE was tantamount to reparations. Just leaving that alone — it’s hard to do that, frankly,” Booker told Sirius XM host Joe Madison Wednesday.

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“I think that one of the big strikes of ignorance that he says there is that somehow this is about a compensation, in other words, writing a check to somebody and reducing the urgency of this conversation to simply that,” added Booker, who has introduced legislation to study the issue.

The senator and presidential candidate also noted that advocates for reparations believe they are necessary to counteract not only slavery itself but racist policies that maintained white supremacy after slavery was abolished, such as segregation and housing discrimination.

“The goal for me in pushing this effort is to make sure we get to the end that we seek, which is equality of opportunity, a leveling of economic playing fields, health playing fields, housing playing fields,” Booker said.

In his initial comments, McConnell called slavery “something that happened 150 years ago” and suggested that the U.S. has "tried to deal with" it through civil rights legislation and the election of former President Obama.

Author Ta-Nehisi Coates, who joined Booker Wednesday in testifying about reparations at a House hearing, also blasted McConnell’s comments during his testimony.

“[McConnell] was alive for the redlining of Chicago and the looting of black homeowners of some $4 billion. Victims of that plunder are very much alive today. I am sure they'd love a word with the majority leader,” Coates said Wednesday.