NY Times: Apologize For Slavery

NY Times writer Timothy Egan offers a compelling argument for a national apology for slavery on the occasion of Juneteenth

Apologize for Slavery

A WEEK of absurdity around a confused racial con artist, and a massacre in a black church brings us to this: Today is the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth, when the last of the American slaves were told they were free. Now, to put it to good use, at a time when a post-racial era seems very much out of reach.

The first black man to live in the White House, long hesitant about doing anything bold on the color divide, could make one of the most simple and dramatic moves of his presidency: apologize for the land of the free being, at one time, the largest slaveholding nation on earth.

The Confederate flag that still flies on the grounds of the Statehouse in South Carolina, cradle of the Civil War, is a reminder that the hatred behind the proclaimed right to own another human being has never left our shores.

BTW, Phillip Klein makes a compelling case for why Conservatives should hate the Confederate flag.

An apology would not kill that hatred, but it would ripple, positively, in ways that may be felt for years.

The Big Question is, would this actually solve anything?

Conservatives would caw — they always do — and say, get over it, don’t play the race card. Liberals would complain that a simple apology did not go far enough, unless it entailed reparations for the descendants of slaves. But words of contrition — a formal acknowledgment of a grievous wrong by a great nation — have a power all their own.

Another Big Question: would it hurt to offer a national apology?

Countries, religions and corporations sometimes do awful things in their names. It doesn’t diminish them to note their failures, their injustices, their crimes against humanity. It elevates them.

Maybe Democrats should apologize for all they did to keep Blacks in shackles, how they instituted Jim Crow and segregation policies and laws, opposed the Civil Rights laws, then decided to simply treat Blacks as an interest group, followed by policies that have left them poor and living in ghettos. OK, a bit off subject.

It’s harder to be contrite than to conquer. Obama had nothing to do with slavery. Most Americans, descendants of immigrants shunned in their homelands, have very little connection to the slaveholders of the American South. So why apologize? Because we own this past. As such, we have to condemn it.

Would this be worthwhile, or simply a waste of words? The majority of citizens had nothing to do with slavery. Few of our descendents were slave owners, and a good chunk of our descendents weren’t even in the U.S. during the time of slavery. Would a national apology help? Would it be accepted? Would it allow the U.S. to move on? Or, would it demand more? Do Blacks, at least those who can directly trace their ancestry to a slave in the U.S., want an apology, and would they accept it?

Crossed at Right Wing News.

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24 Responses to “NY Times: Apologize For Slavery”

  1. Jeffery says:

    Maybe Democrats should apologize for all they did to keep Blacks in shackles, how they instituted Jim Crow and segregation policies and laws, opposed the Civil Rights laws… blockquote>

    You’re right. All the conservative Democrats (mostly from the old confederacy) SHOULD apologize. Their history is appalling.

    And southern states: Take down that appalling, traitorous symbol over your statehouses.

    As a nation we have done great things – and some things not so great.

  2. john says:

    Of course old democrats were socially very conservative and racist.
    Just as were many Republicans.
    However Teach that has changed by and largely.
    Well Teach slavery of course ended. BUT Jim Crow lasted much much longer. Don’t forget the last MASS lynching took place in 1946 in Georgia where 2 men and 2 women were tortured and killed. This was another instance of rightwing extremism and terrorism, and yes the perps were Dems.
    And Teach yes SOME Dems did oppose the Civil Rights Act which but it was passed by a democratic Congress and signed by a democratic POTUS. Ever since doing so the Dems have lost their power in the southern states.
    Teach the Confederate flag should not be flown anywhere or at any time.

  3. Stosh says:

    Count me in as far as reparations being the right way to go, so long as everyone is allowed to be “transracial” and declare what race they feel like today.

  4. john says:

    Sure Stosh if you feel you need it.

  5. john says:

    http://gawker.com/here-is-what-appears-to-be-dylann-roofs-racist-manifest-1712767241
    Here is that rightwing extremist and terrorist waving his Confederate flag
    Sort of explains pretty well why he did it
    which is a bit strange since every GOP clown running for the nomination keeps saying “I don’t know why” when asked about the act of terror.

  6. ruralcounsel says:

    Seems to me that we had a five-year long national apology for slavery from 1860 to 1865 that went well beyond words. My great grandfather, a West Virginian, fought for the Union, including the battle of Bull Run. He was deaf for the rest of his life because of the cannon fire.

    I think the idea of reparations is idiotic. Just hustlers trying to prey on some kind of weird intergenerational guilt trip. Nevertheless, if they insist …

    If the Blacks want reparations for being descendants of slavery, then perhaps they owe the descendants of Union soldiers something as well.

  7. Jeffery says:

    john is right. You should read the document purportedly written by Dylann Roof. It reads like the comments sections of most far-right blogs.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/20/dylann-roof-manifesto-charleston-shooting_n_7627788.html

    Any of the white supremacists who comment here care to point out where they disagree with Roof’s beliefs about Blacks in America?

    Only a fourth to a third of people in the South owned even one slave. Yet every White person is treated as if they had a slave owning ancestor. This applies to in the states where slavery never existed, as well as people whose families immigrated after slavery was abolished. I have read hundreds of slaves narratives from my state. And almost all of them were positive. One sticks out in my mind where an old ex-slave recounted how the day his mistress died was one of the saddest days of his life.

    Segregation was not a bad thing. It was a defensive measure. Segregation did not exist to hold back negroes. It existed to protect us from them. And I mean that in multiple ways. Not only did it protect us from having to interact with them, and from being physically harmed by them, but it protected us from being brought down to their level. Integration has done nothing but bring Whites down to level of brute animals.

    But what constitutes a “good school”? The fact is that how good a school is considered directly corresponds to how White it is. I hate with a passion the whole idea of the suburbs. To me it represents nothing but scared White people running. Running because they are too weak, scared, and brainwashed to fight. Why should we have to flee the cities we created for the security of the suburbs? Why are the suburbs secure in the first place? Because they are White. The pathetic part is that these White people dont even admit to themselves why they are moving. They tell themselves it is for better schools or simply to live in a nicer neighborhood. But it is honestly just a way to escape niggers and other minorities.

    Anyone who thinks that White and black people look as different as we do on the outside, but are somehow magically the same on the inside, is delusional. How could our faces, skin, hair, and body structure all be different, but our brains be exactly the same? This is the nonsense we are led to believe.

    Negroes have lower Iqs, lower impulse control, and higher testosterone levels in generals. These three things alone are a recipe for violent behavior. If a scientist publishes a paper on the differences between the races in Western Europe or Americans, he can expect to lose his job. There are personality traits within human families, and within different breeds of cats or dogs, so why not within the races?

    In a modern history class it is always emphasized that, when talking about “bad” things Whites have done in history, they were White. But when we lern about the numerous, almost countless wonderful things Whites have done, it is never pointed out that these people were White. Yet when we learn about anything important done by a black person in history, it is always pointed out repeatedly that they were black. For example when we learn about how George Washington carver was the first nigger smart enough to open a peanut.

  8. Jeffery says:

    From Teach’s citation about conservatives ditching the confederate flag as a symbol, the author says:

    The Confederacy was formed to preserve and expand the brutal institution of slavery, and then its proponents subsequently tried to disguise their motivations in lofty language about states’ rights.

    and

    For instance, the Mississippi declaration (of secession) reads at the outset: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world.”

    These were the ideals that were being fought for on the battlefield under the banner of the flag that some people still claim as a symbol of courage. Fighting courageously to preserve a monstrous evil is nothing to celebrate or honor, which conservatives should be the first to recognize.

    and

    Even though the flag no longer rests on the top of the South Carolina capitol dome, it still remains on the grounds of the capitol, serving as an ugly reminder of dark legacies in American history that continue to haunt the nation and damage the cause of limited government. It’s long past time to tear down this flag.

  9. Jeffery says:

    The majority of citizens had nothing to do with slavery. Few of our descendants were slave owners, and a good chunk of our descendants weren’t even in the U.S. during the time of slavery.

    It is the United States nation that would apologize, not the individual citizens. To all in America except the right-wingers, the nation is more than a random collection of individuals trying to steal from each other.

  10. david7134 says:

    Jeff, and John as well I guess,
    Do either of you ever read? Do you have any idea of history beyond grade school? The Confederacy was formed to continue the institution of slavery? That is so ignorant that it is painful to think that people actually are that lacking in knowledge. The CSA was formed after about 40 years of terrorist activity by Northerners. Slavery was one of many issues that divided opinions. It actually was the least. Think about this, the US as it existed after secession was a slave holding country that started a war with the CSA to stop slavery. Does that make sense to you? Note that Lincoln did nothing to free slaves, his emancipation proclamation was a joke and only meant for political purpose. What the war and the secession was all about was a desire by those in the South for self-determination. That is something that the US says is great, but not for those countries that the US wishes to control. There are many of us that think the stars and bars represents a desire for freedom. If you think you are living in a free country, then I pity you even more.

  11. Jeffery says:

    dave,

    I give your lunatic ravings the same consideration I give those of any white supremacist neoconfederate.

    Over the months, you have typed many of the same thoughts that Dylann Roof used to justify his cowardly terrorist attack on innocent churchgoers.

  12. drowningpuppies says:

    Dylan Roof believed in man-made global warming.

  13. Jl says:

    Why don’t the early West-African slave traders, mostly who were black, apologize first?

  14. drowningpuppies says:

    Roof’s dad now recieving death threats.
    Guess little jeffy and retarded Johnny have no problems with that.

  15. Jeffery says:

    dp,

    Did you really just type that derp?

    So death threats trouble the far-right but a terrorist act where nine innocents were murdered by a right-wing white supremacist coward does not.

    Decent people would consider death threats inconsequential in light of a murderous terror attack on nine citizens at a Christian prayer meeting by a cowardly right-wing white supremacist.

    Only another cowardly right-wing white supremacist would type what you did. You’re more pathetic than I thought.

    j typed: early West-African slave traders, mostly who were black, apologize first?

  16. drowningpuppies says:

    See.
    Told you he doesn’t have a problem with it.

  17. Jeffery says:

    derp,

    Why do you have a problem with claimed, unproven threats but not have a problem when one of your own cowardly white supremacist right-wingers commits an act of domestic terrorism, murdering nine unarmed Black citizens?

    You’re worried about people maybe saying bad things to a brutal, cowardly murderers father? Waah!

    Making excuses for a cowardly murderer… you should be ashamed.

  18. drowningpuppies says:

    Funny that no excuses were made by me concerning a heartless savage who murdered innocent people.
    That’s all in your vile leftist imagination.

  19. Jeffery says:

    Funny that no excuses were made by me concerning a heartless savage who murdered innocent people.
    That’s all in your vile leftist imagination.

    Yay! Finally, one of our resident right-wingers says a bad word about one of their own!

    Your excuses are ignoring the terrorist while equating tales of a telephone “threat” with a terrorist act resulting in the deaths of nine Americans, each of who was a far better person than the terrorist, and the assassination of a SC Senator.

  20. Jeffery says:

    dave,

    In the words of Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens:

    African slavery as it exists amongst us is the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted.

    The prevailing ideas entertained by him (Jefferson) and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away… Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error.

    The white supremacists and neo-confederates who have once again crawled out of the fetid southern swamps are the ones denying history.

    The secessionists were not American heroes; they were traitors. Their old symbols are not honorable, and are definitely not the best of America.

  21. gitarcarver says:

    Jeffery has comprehension issues again.

    The term “immediate” as in “immediate cause” means “closest,” or nearest in time.” Therefore there are more reasons for the southern states to secede other than slavery. Historians recognize this as many feel the causes of the Civil War are numerous.

    It is the left and people like Jeffery who have tried to deceive people into believing that the only reason for the Civil War and succession was slavery.

    Jeffery also makes the false statement that the “secessionists were traitors.” There existed at the time a well founded debate on whether a state could withdraw from the Union. There were states in the South whose approval of the Constitution was based on the ability to withdraw from the Union at any time.

    While the term “traitors” was bantered around at the time, there was no legal basis for the charge and once again, it is only through the lens of the left today that teaches a false history.

    The reasons for secession were varied and broad as the land itself. There were those who did believe in the idea of “state’s rights” which encompassed a wide variety of issues including that of the self determination of the ability to allow slavery. It is interesting to note that in the North, there were loud voices that supported the idea of slavery.

    The left relies on the ignorance of people today and feed on that ignorance in a variety of issues including this one.

    One must wonder why the left hates the truth so much.

  22. Jeffery says:

    gitarcarver has comprehension issues again.

    All I did was provide a quote from one of the principals, who clearly stated the immediate cause was slavery. Most of the state’s statements of secession also mentioned slavery (see earlier statement from Mississippi).

    In fact it’s southern revisionists such as yourself who want to expunge America’s history of slavery.

    The hateful white supremacists are wrong and dangerous but will eventually be extirpated.

  23. gitarcarver says:

    All I did was provide a quote from one of the principals, who clearly stated the immediate cause was slavery.

    These words aren’t yours as well?

    The white supremacists and neo-confederates who have once again crawled out of the fetid southern swamps are the ones denying history.

    The secessionists were not American heroes; they were traitors. Their old symbols are not honorable, and are definitely not the best of America.

    Anyone can see that a quote was not “all [you] provided.”

    In fact it’s southern revisionists such as yourself who want to expunge America’s history of slavery.

    By “revisionist,” I am assuming that you mean people who are interested in the truth rather than people like you who are interest in denying the complex reasons for the Civil War.

    The hateful white supremacists are wrong and dangerous but will eventually be extirpated.

    So when are you going to die, Jeffery?

    You are the one that sees every issue in terms of race. You are the one that hates other races? You are one of the racists that you claim to hate.

    I don’t expect you to keep your word anymore that one expects you to be honest or know history.

  24. Jeffery says:

    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/csa_scarsec.asp

    SC articles of secession. You’re right, it’s all about states rights. The state’s right to practice slavery.

    I suspect it’s the same for the other states, too.

    So the treasonous states and the treasonous officials of the newly formed confederacy all say it’s all about the slaves.

    But the neo-confederates and the confederate apologists and the white supremacists wish to revise history and say it wasn’t about slavery. But why?

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