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Virginia expresses "profound regret" for slavery

AP article wrote:
RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) -- Meeting on the grounds of the former Confederate Capitol, the Virginia General Assembly voted unanimously Saturday to express "profound regret" for the state's role in slavery.

Sponsors of the resolution say they know of no other state that has apologized for slavery, although Missouri lawmakers are considering such a measure. The resolution does not carry the weight of law but sends an important symbolic message, supporters said.

"This session will be remembered for a lot of things, but 20 years hence I suspect one of those things will be the fact that we came together and passed this resolution," said Delegate A. Donald McEachin, a Democrat who sponsored it in the House of Delegates.

The resolution passed the House 96-0 and cleared the 40-member Senate on a unanimous voice vote. It does not require Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's approval.

The measure also expressed regret for "the exploitation of Native Americans."

The resolution was introduced as Virginia begins its celebration of the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, where the first Africans arrived in 1619. Richmond, home to a popular boulevard lined with statues of Confederate heroes, later became another point of arrival for Africans and a slave-trade hub.

The resolution says government-sanctioned slavery "ranks as the most horrendous of all depredations of human rights and violations of our founding ideals in our nation's history, and the abolition of slavery was followed by systematic discrimination, enforced segregation, and other insidious institutions and practices toward Americans of African descent that were rooted in racism, racial bias, and racial misunderstanding."

In Virginia, black voter turnout was suppressed with a poll tax and literacy tests before those practices were struck down by federal courts, and state leaders responded to federally ordered school desegregation with a "Massive Resistance" movement in the 1950s and early '60s.

The apology is the latest in a series of strides Virginia has made in overcoming its segregationist past. Virginia was the first state to elect a black governor -- L. Douglas Wilder in 1989 -- and the Legislature took a step toward atoning for Massive Resistance in 2004 by creating a scholarship fund for blacks whose schools were shut down between 1954 and 1964.

Among those voting for the measure was Delegate Frank D. Hargrove, an 80-year-old Republican who infuriated black leaders last month by saying "black citizens should get over" slavery.

After enduring a barrage of criticism, Hargrove successfully co-sponsored a resolution calling on Virginia to celebrate "Juneteenth," a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Do you think this was the right thing to do? I personally would have voted against it, not because I believe slavery was right, but simply on the principal of apologizing for something that took place so long ago and for which we as individuals are not responsible.

In fact, arguably it worked out for the better.

The United States is better and stronger for the black men and women in her history. And I doubt that many of those citizens today would have rather grown up in Africa than the United States, as they may very well have had slavery not existed 400 years before they were born.

This does not justify slavery, but illustrates how in the long run past wrongs can work for the better (such as the story of Joesph in the Old Testament).

Where do we draw the line? Should Constantine (or even Gordian III) have apologized on behalf of the Roman Empire for the execution of Jesus Christ?

Should the British government apologize to the United States for impressing U.S. citizens into the British Navy for service in the Napoleonic Wars?

Should the United States apologize to Spain for rushing to judgment over the USS Maine and declaring war in 1898 against the Kingdom of Spain?

I simply believe we should spend our time looking forward and working together for the future, rather than making apologies for immoral activity that none of us personally did or for which none of us personally suffered.

I think it's stupid to apologize for something as illusive as the past. What RIGHT do we have to apologize for what our ancestors did? Some were good / bad according to OUR PRESENT STANDARDS but we are here today because of them all! Shocked

US style of democracy is very close to populism and demagogy and makes me think of Socrates' trial where a jury of 501 people found him guilty (280 votes) and sentenced him to death (360 votes... 80 more because they didn't like him). Popularity does not mean good, majority does not mean democracy!

Next: apologize for Columbus for discovering America, for the British because they founded colonies on the East Coast, for US conquest of the West from the natives and of California, Texas, etc from Mexico, for giving money and weapons to Stalin to fight Hitler etc Laughing Laughing Laughing Stupidity is boundless!
Captain Fertile
The English have done a LOT of things in the past for which I am proud, they also did a LOT of things of which I am repulsed.

But I never feel compleled to say sorry for those things, it would be an empty act to pander to the PC brigade.

Everyone does things they regret in the past (or maybe they don't regret) but judge a people on what they do today and tomorrow not what their ancestors did yesterday. It was a different time with different people.

It is time to stop harking back to darker days.

It does the victims no good to keep revisitng the crime.
Because, it gives people whose ancestors were slaves a sense of closure and recompense. Not to mention, it is usually the gov'ts duty to apologize for things it's done in the past.
Captain Fertile
Soulfire wrote:
Because, it gives people whose ancestors were slaves a sense of closure and recompense. Not to mention, it is usually the gov'ts duty to apologize for things it's done in the past.

But how much closure is enough, no matter what is said by an official body there are those on one side who say it should never have happened and there are those on the other side who said the apologgy does not speak for them!

You can say sorry as much as you like the bottom line is that people have to move on and deal with what is happening now, its not like we are short of problems these days.

What next - pay compensation from tax payers for things that happened years ago and was nothing to do with them?

If the PC brigade had their way this is exactly what would happen, if it hasn't already!!!

My long-dead Grandfather lost a lung in the second world war fighting in Tripoli. Should I seek reperations from The UK Governement for conscripting him, from the Libyan government because he was on their land when it happened or how about Germany (or Italy or maybe even Japan) becuase they were on the oppoiste side in the war?

No, and I don't intend to because in the past s**t happened and although certain things shape my life today I am also responsible for how I turn out and what I allow to hold me back.

There are plenty of things able to hold you back in this world and history is rarely one of them!

Saying sorry for things, especially in this contextusualy does one thing, shift the feeling of resentment from one group to the other and further dredge up differences and contruct hew barriers because for some an apology is never enough.
I guess I don't see the big deal, myself. I mean, absolutely, the PC rage is way over the top, but I don't see this issue in that light. To me, it seems that a government, as a whole, is saying it is recognizing it's actions where wrong. I don't think owning up to an error is ever wrong. Maybe late, but not wrong.

To take an extreme example, would it be appropriate for Germany to express publicly, directly after WWII, that it's concentration camps were wrong? (they probably did) How about 20 years later? 50? At what point is it not appropriate?

Does it give closure? You'd have to ask someone whose ancestors were slaves. But even if it is a meaningless measure to those whose ancestors were slaves, I think it is a good thing when a government body can say they screwed up. Just sad it took so long.
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