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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Of apologies and regrets: Alabama legislature apologizes for slavery

Yes, you read it right, Alabama's state legislature has apologized for slavery, but the state Senate and House wrote different versions. If the two ever agree (I'm sorry, I need to catch my breath after laughing that hard; Alabama politicians agreeing on something?!), I suppose that, by the time it's all done, there'll be a slew of spending bills attached to it as riders.

Now that I've gotten the lighthearted cynicism out of the way, I have a few serious thoughts to add on this subject. Some people are afraid that this may open the way to lawsuits against the state. I happen to think that's full of shit, but in today's cartoonishly litigious society, that's not entirely impossible. No, my opposition to this is that the apology is several decades too late. The year is 2007. How many people are still alive who were victims of slavery, a practice which ended in the United States in 1865? What good will it do to the victims of slavery for their descendants, several generations removed, to be given an apology due not to those descendants, but to the victims themselves? I know, well, that is, I know as well as any American born in the last century, how awful slavery must have been, how inhumane and unforgivable it was. I am sickened by the fact that this is among the most shameful parts of this nation's past. I think that there was a time when an apology would have been meaningful to the victims of slavery. I just think this is a case where it's too little, too late, and issued by the wrong people. I realize that this is a topic for debate, and some may disagree, but this is what I think.

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