Virginia Apologizes for Slavery

by Ryan on February 25, 2007

in Culture,Politics

142 years after slavery in Virginia was ended by Robert E. Lee  surrendering his army to Ulysses Grant at Appomattox Court House, VA in 1865, and 400 years after the first English colonists in Jamestown oppressed the local Amerindians almost from their first moments on shore in 1607, the Virginia legislature has officially apologized for these heinous actions!

This comes after an open dialogue on apologies and reparations has been in the air for the last decade.  Perhaps enough time has passed that Virginia can take responsibility for its past transgressions, offer their regrets, and move on.  Segregation was also an issue all Southern states had to come to grips with in the wake of the civil rights movement a generation ago when the Supreme Court and the Federal government dismantled that entrenched system of bias and bigotry. Of course, I agree that these steps are a moral good, but there is a potential issue that America must next come to terms with: the consequence of guilt.

In her book, Londonistan, Melanie Phillips argues that the West is having serious difficulties recognizing the dangers of radical Islam because of a racial guilt complex that has formed over the last 60 years.  In Europe, Phillips argues that it is post-colonial guilt, while in America it’s post-civil rights guilt.  The results?  Phillips believes that the West is still sulking in its truly egregious past behavior to the point where we’re missing the dangers of profiling those who are our stated enemies living in our own countries out of fear that we’ll oppress their rights, as the West has done virulently in the past.  Maybe her thesis is overreaction here in the USA, but in London there is a serious problem with radical Islam and her point is a poignant reminder of this danger.   Every time I hear about the hatred brewing in London and Parisian suburbs, or about how sweet Italian grandmothers take their shoes off at Dulles International Airport I wonder a little about Phillip’s point.  However, if Virginia, the capitol of the Confederacy, can apologize for slavery, I think we’ll figure all this out here in the States.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

rightonoz February 25, 2007 at 5:59 pm

Agree with you in that it’s good there has been an apology.

I believe that it’s time we put an end to ‘white man’s guilt’. OK there were many things happened in all our histories that we have no cause to feel good about, however we should not feel compelled to carry that guilt forever. An apology of this nature is all we can do or be expected to do.

We should also not be so possessed with guilt that we fail to insist on doing whatever is necessary to secure our freedom and security. Sometimes feelings and minor freedoms get bruised. The alternative is just giving in.

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Chris February 25, 2007 at 8:41 pm

On the topics we are discussing, here is a good book recommendation for you all. It can defintely be applied to a lot of what is going on today in the world.

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Anonymous February 27, 2007 at 12:51 pm

where is the apology from radical islam? since they haven’t done anythingp productive in the last thousand years, should they apologize for using the world’s resources without adding any positive back?

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