Thursday, August 07, 2008

Is there a need for a federal apology about slavery from gov't?

Middletown Mike brings up an interesting issue on his blog. Is it necessary at this point to apologize for slavery in the United States?

The Federal Government has issued an apology to Japanese Americans for internment in camps during World War II. The move was met with mixed reviews at the time (it was during the 1980s). However, I recall there were at least a few people from the Japanese-American community that believed the move was a good one. The fact is that America was wrong in creating internemnt camps and doing what it did to those citizens then and, in a real way, the government owned up to its error, albeit late.

This apology would come much later, true. No one alive actually lived in slavery. But, the stigma of slavery to an entire people, and the destruction of various cultures (African and other) has been a powerful one for black Americans to cope with through the years.

I cannot see how an apology could be bad. If even one person found meaning in it, then the whole thing would be worth it. Slavery in America was an abomination that cannot be scrubbed clean with historical apologists that focus on economic arguments and the necessity of this beastial aspect of American history. America was not truly free until 1968, more than 100 years after the Civil War. So the truth is that salvery was wrong, and how can the government formally acknowledging that be bad?

Race and issues involving race continue to be areas of challenge for our society at-large. Why not an apology? The American Federal Government did sanction the private ownership of human beings. This behavior cannot be mitigated, but it can be apologized for (which is only good manners).

CAPTION: A bust of Union Gen. William T. Sherman resides in the vault of Grant's Tomb, in Manhattan. The vault houses the remains of former Commander of the Army of the Potomac and U.S. President Ulysses Grant and his wife, Julia.

Click on the headline to go to the post at Middletown Mike.

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