Renewed push for slavery apology begins

From the Department of Self-Loathers:

Five states did something over the past 12 months that no state had done before: expressed regret or apologized for slavery.

This year, Congress, which meets in a Capitol built partly by slaves, will consider issuing its own apology.

“We’ve seen states step forward on this,” says Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, citing the resolutions of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Alabama and New Jersey. “I’m really shocked, just shocked” that the federal government hasn’t apologized. “It’s time to do so.”

Harkin says he and Sen. Sam Brownback R-Kan., will propose as early as March an apology not only for slavery but for subsequent “Jim Crow” laws that furthered racial segregation. So far, they have 14 Senate backers, including Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. A similar House measure introduced last year has 120 co-sponsors.

“I think 2008 will be the year,” says Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. He says an apology could begin a dialogue about race that Obama could continue as the nation’s first black president.

“The success of the Obama candidacy underscores the irrelevance of an apology” because it shows “enormous progress” in race relations, says Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a conservative group that describes itself as opposed to racial preferences. “Haven’t we already moved beyond it?”

Not if it can be used as an excuse to create even more government programs the “disadvantaged”:

Apologies are controversial because they could lead to reparations.

They “carry weight” as a step toward racial healing and don’t have to “open the door” to reparations, says Carol Swain, professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University.

Other proponents say an apology should lead to remedies.

“A mere apology doesn’t do anything for me,” says state Rep. Talibdin El-Amin, a Democrat who is lobbying for such a resolution in Missouri.

An apology is a necessary first step because it recognizes a wrongdoing, says Hilary Shelton of the NAACP.

He says it’s “hollow,” though, unless it leads to a remedy for African-Americans, who still suffer economically and educationally from the aftereffects of slavery and segregation.

Remedies don’t have to be monetary payments but could be government programs to help the disadvantaged, Cohen says.

It’s unfortunate that Senator Brownback chose to be a part of this.

How much do you want to bet that this was a move timed to, in part, see if the GOP nominee would/will sign on to it? Because if McCain doesn’t, you know what will happen.

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